Like all tax software programs, TaxACT has a wizard that asks you questions in order to make the process more intuitive and less stressful. The thing that sets TaxACT's wizard apart from the rest is its ability to let users answer questions in any order they wish. For programs like H&R Block, you're obligated to answer questions in a certain order, so if you're waiting on a specific piece of information it can hold up the process. With TaxACT you can do your return piecemeal and no such restriction will occur. Other features like internal bookmarking allow you to mark specific sections of the wizard to come back to later.
TaxACT offers the same free federal tax preparation as H&R Block and TurboTax. If you use the free edition, state is also free. However, if you upgrade to the paid federal plans (Plus for $27 or Premium for $37), you'll have to also pay for your state return. Still, TaxACT is a good deal costing only $33 to file state returns. The free version will let you import your W-2, however if you wish to upload previous tax returns, you'll need to upgrade to one of the paid plans. In most cases the free version will be sufficient for your needs. TaxACT says its Plus plan is best for investors and property owners while Premium is for people reporting self made income from self-employment.
TaxACT offers a simple, easy-to-use interface that takes you through step-by-step instructions to file both federal and state taxes. It starts with Basic Info that includes your personal information, and goes on to Life Events that might affect what you owe in taxes. It then moves on to Federal Q&A and State Q&A to assess any further deductions you can claim. Lastly, TaxACT lets you review your information and choose to either file electronically or by mail.
Each step is simply laid out for maximum comprehension, and the interface offers tips along the way for those not familiar with any of the steps.
All versions include email support and the paid plans also include phone support. Similar to H&R Block, you can try the higher edition tools and pay when you file. Users of the free edition no longer have as many support options as they use to. They cannot pay for additional support, like in the past when you could add on phone support to your service.
TaxACT does not provide audit support as part of its filing plans, but you can purchase a separate Tax Audit Defense protection plan for $44.99 that provides full-service audit representation for as long as your return can be audited. You can also have access to a segment of the site that provides a knowledge base Auditing, dubbed "Audit Assistant." If the information within Audit Assistant isn't helpful, you can send the items directly to TaxAct and they will contact you to help.
We highly recommend TaxACT for any consumer who is looking for a simple and economical way to prepare and e-file taxes. While its audit protection is pricey, it's standard filing options are some of the most competitive we've seen. Considering how reputable TaxACT is and how solid its features are, we think this is a pretty good deal.
|Online Federal Tax Products:||Free Federal: Free|
|Federal Only Fees:||$27.00-$37.00|
|State Only Fees:||Free with Free Federal; $33 for all other editions|
|Support Options:||Unlimited email support; access to Answer Center; Phone support included with paid plans|
|Audit Protection:||Tax Audit Defense protection plan for $44.99|
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