Editor's Note: Online e-filing services often change what features and prices they offer throughout the tax season. We will update the Online Tax Software reviews as needed throughout the 2014 tax season as new versions are released.
Using this online tax preparation service, you can prepare, e-file and print your federal return for free. State returns are inexpensive, and you only have to pay for your federal return if you want additional assistance such as free phone support or prior-year import ability. We find it refreshing that TaxACT has made tax time less burdensome for all taxpayers, not just 1040EZ filers. This tax preparation service has maintained its edge on the competition and earns our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for online tax software.
This tax service provides three editions and low-priced bundles that include state e-filing. It offers a free federal edition, a Deluxe edition for $12.99 and an Ultimate Bundle for $17.99. The free and Deluxe versions require an additional fee for state filing, and the Ultimate Bundle includes one state and one federal filing. Also offered are downloadable and CD software editions ranging from $21.99 to $28.99 that can prepare and print unlimited federal returns. The best deal this tax service offers is free 1040 e-filing and state filing for only $14.99. TaxACT can help you file prior-year federal and state returns back to 2000.
This online tax software was able to create accurate returns using our test tax scenario. To get a good idea of how well tax services can create accurate returns for our readers, we created a typical tax scenario of a dual income family, with one dependent, a house and a few itemized deductions, as well as a simple 104EZ situation. TaxACT created returns accurate to the exact dollar amount.
To help tax filers discover all the credits and deductions they can claim, TaxACT guides them through 35 life changes that affect tax status; meanwhile, TaxTutor Guidance provides over 2,500 tax tips. The Deluxe and Ultimate Bundle editions also come with a tool that can track charitable donations, including estimated cash value for over 1,300 frequently donated items. They also provide a tax glossary that includes definitions for more than 300 tax terms to ensure that you understand line items correctly.
Even first-time filers will find TaxACT simple to use. The service offers a variety of helpful hints to those preparing a return. For example, in the Life Events section you can read about multiple-state filing. TaxACT clearly explains how most states handle multi-state filing in general, and it answers common questions regarding this circumstance. There is also a section of help info about nonresidential returns. We like that the information is arranged in a logical manner so you can usually find the answers and explanations you are looking for from within the tax software. You can use bookmarks to mark sections that you want to come back to later, and the site suggests ways to maximize next year's refund.
Similar to other easy-to-use online tax services, TaxACT is arranged in an interview format; for example, in the Life Events section you can choose topics and answer a series of questions that help TaxACT select the right forms and highlight any credits and deductions that you qualify for. In terms of basic features, this online tax software provides everything we were looking for, including a refund/owe meter, error checking and alerts, prior-year filing and importing, and free audit support. The Deluxe and Ultimate Bundle versions also offer assistance calculating the monetary value of your non-cash donations such as used household items, and even your driving distance.
To make the process quick and painless, this tax preparation service can import from more tax software than any other online tax service. When you switch to TaxACT, it imports data directly from TurboTax and H&R Block. It can retrieve data from PDF files created by TurboTax, H&R Block at Home, TaxSlayer, IRS Free File Fillable Forms and eSmart. It can also import information from GainsKeeper and popular stock services such as OptionsXpress (via Gainskeeper), TD Ameritrade and ShareBuilder.
We looked at the kind of help TaxACT offers for those who need assistance using the software or service. TaxACT can be contacted via web form or by instant chat when you're logged into your account. Its help topics online cover topics such as e-filing, browser issues, OS compatibility, and download and installation instructions. Also covered are technical issues such as how to print your returns and import tax data from other software. About 20 video tutorials cover common topics such as canceled debt, 1099-MISCs, amending your return and so on. Telephone technical and customer support comes with the Deluxe and Ultimate Bundle editions, and is available to free-edition filers for a one-time fee of $7.99.
Save your anxiety and money for more pressing matters. With TaxACT you can easily prepare a simple or complex federal return for free without preparation and e-file fees eating away a piece of your much-anticipated refund. If you end up owing the IRS or your state, you can rest assured that you will have to pay the least amount possible. If you need assistance, you can take advantage of the bundle offer and utilize free telephone support, W-2 importing, tax tips, a stock assistant, an audit assistant and more.
Most can file their federal returns using e-file for free. State refund filing is low-priced at only $14.99. TaxACT only charges more if you need additional assistance or business tax filing.
The tax preparation service does not provide free telephone support for its free customers, and it does not yet provide mobile versions.
If you need to file a 1040EZ or a fairly simple 1040, TaxACT provides the best-priced option – free. It is also easy to use and it does not require a lot of tax knowledge to prepare returns.