PROS / TaxSlayer is simple to use; it provides an easy-to-navigate interface.
CONS / Our testers struggled to create an accurate return using our controlled test scenarios.
VERDICT / While we found TaxSlayer simple to use, you'll want to carefully prepare your return using this program to obtain an accurate return.
Editor's Note: The personal tax deadline for the 2015 tax season was April 18, 2016. You can still use this service to file your taxes late or file an amendment online; however, we will not update this review until the start of the 2016 tax season in January 2017.
NASCAR fans know TaxSlayer; this tax preparation service sponsors Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car, which is often seen racing against Danica Patrick's car, which is sponsored by TaxAct. TaxSlayer can help you prepare most types of federal income tax returns, and active duty military members receive a 50 percent discount on both federal and state e-filing fees. While not everyone has heard of TaxSlayer, it has been around in some form or another since 1965, making it one of the first software-based tax preparers.
This online tax preparation service offers a few different versions of its program. There's its Free Basic version in which 1040EZ filers can create their federal return for free and then just pay to create and e-file the accompanying state return. The next version is the Classic version, which includes prior year import abilities. This version can create any type of return; however, it does not include the additional support that the Premium version provides. TaxSlayer can help you receive your refund check, if owed, by check, direct deposit or debit card.
In our tests, our team of evaluators had a difficult time creating an accurate return using this online tax software. Once they resolved the issue of applying that credit, they were more likely to create an accurate return. On average, it took our testers just shy of 40 minutes to prepare a standard 1040 return. In terms of catching our deliberate, built-in errors, it caught about half of them during testing. It was also able to flag typos and other simple entry errors.
Our testers thought TaxSlayer was simple to use and most took advantage of the guided interface, which they found quite helpful. The interface and layout, however, received mixed reviews. Some testers liked the uncluttered layout, while others felt it was more difficult than competing programs to find the information they were looking for. Most testers reported that the language the software used was simple to understand and that they rarely had to look up terms they didn't understand.
Our tests of TaxSlayer revealed poor accuracy scores; it caught only half of the mistakes we deliberately introduced when completing our federal tax return. While most mistakes are due to user error, tax software should be able to help the filer, as best as possible, create an accurate return regardless of the user's past experience using online tax software. Our testers found TaxSlayer simple to use, but they struggled to obtain the accurate numbers we were looking for.