We tested Express Tax Refund again this year with two tax scenarios to see how accurate of a return it could create and how easy it was to create that return. This online tax software was able to create an accurate return down to within $1. However, we had the advantage of knowing exactly what credits and deductions we could claim and what income we had to report. If you did not have that knowledge, as many taxpayers do not, this service is not the best for helping you discover what you can claim. It does not have a life events questionnaire to help determine what you can claim, and even if you know what you can claim, it charges extra for everything. If you have child care credit to report it costs an extra $10, moving expenses another $10 and electronic filing another $20.
Our 1040 with deductions test return, which we considered an average scenario, ended up costing $79.95 using Express Tax Refund plus $20 to eFile and another $20 for a state return – for a total of $119.95. This is much more than other online tax services. This tax preparation service charges $10 each extra for common things such as child tax credit, itemized deductions, earned income credit and self-employment tax. They also charge an extra $29.95 for bank refund processing. If you want them to reduce the fee from your return, the total would be $159.95 plus a $29.95 bank fee. Even our top-ranked tax services charges much less than this for a more comprehensive product.
If you use this service, it is best if you know beforehand what you can claim since it doesn't have a life events survey. Life events surveys ask you simple questions such as, did you change jobs last year? Did you move? Do you own a home? Your answers to these questions would help the software deduce the credits and deductions you can claim, but it doesn't offer this assistance. For example, in our test scenario we had $4200 in childcare expenses of which $3000 can be claimed. Using Express Tax Refund when you enter $4200 as the amount paid it responds with a warning saying the amount entered cannot exceed $3000, which is misleading. Other services will allow you to enter $4200 and then tell you that only a portion of it or $3000 of it can be claimed.
Express Tax Refund offers free telephone support. When we clicked the Contact Us link, we found the IRS Refund Status Hotline and the Express Tax Refund customer services phone numbers and a mailing address. We expected to find an email address, but we did not see one. Though we appreciate that they offer free telephone support, we would like to see more options such as an email address or chat options, as well as posted support hours. We also question their rating of having a “Perfect 5 Star Rating, 11 years in a row,” when they offer no reference as to who granted them that award.
Online they post a few FAQs but that is about it. The link for the Help Center is called “FAQs, Tax Guides & Tax Tools," but we only found a few FAQs. We tried the Help Center when logged into our account to see if it offered additional information, but it did not. We also found little explanation or guidance in the software itself.
Though Express Tax Refund can create an accurate basic return, they charge more for common add-ons and do not provide enough tax education to help filers know what they can claim. They have not improved much on the past few years or added a noticeable amount of new information to their website. If you need to file a simple return you can do it for free using our top tax services, and if you have a more complex return with itemized deductions, our higher ranked products will help you create the most accurate return as possible.
This tax preparation service was able to create an accurate claim for our test return and they provide free telephone support.
This service does not let you file for prior years. It also cannot import your returns from previous years, and it costs more than other online tax software.
Even if you only have a simple 1040 or 1040EZ return to file they cost more than other services. Our higher ranked services are easier to use and have better pricing.