TaxBrain Review: Online Tax Preparation and Filing
|Solid, streamlined service but interface and pricing are a bit confusing|
TaxBrain doesn't have a lot more to offer than the top tax preparation services, especially given its confusing pricing and interface. But it does offer a streamlined tax prep experience without many of the annoying questions other tax prep services ask.
We were initially confused about TaxBrain's pricing. When we completed our tax forms, they said it would be $14.95 to file our federal taxes, which is free for other tax prep services. But upon further review of the site, we found that e-filing federal taxes is in fact free. (They charge $14.95 if you aren't e-filing.) If I hadn't been looking, I would have never found that information. For state taxes, TaxBrain charges $29.95, which is actually cheaper than some of the bigger tax prep services.
Like most other tax prep services, TaxBrain also offers Deluxe ($36.95) and Premium ($69.95) services for those who have more complicated tax returns. You can also decide to purchase a tax expert to help. To talk with an expert for a half hour, you can pay $19.95. If you want someone to file your taxes for you, you can pay $129.95 for the full service, which is guaranteed.
For the most part, TaxBrain's interface is simple and easy to understand. There is a main page that details all the major steps that you must complete. After each step, you are taken back to the main page, and a green checkmark signifies which sections you've completed.
There are a few confusing parts, including if you have more than one W-2 to enter. And unlike other big-name services, they don't go into detail about the different credits and deductions that you could be eligible for; they assume you will know what information to enter. If you already know all your information, this is a nice break from the never-ending questions from other tax services. If you don't know, you might not get the most out of your tax return.
TaxBrain also doesn't autofill your first W-2 with the information they've already collected (such as name and address), which is frustrating. Additionally, they make you autosign your return before they calculate your return or give you the cost of the service, which made us nervous. (They don't charge you or process anything without your approval.)
TaxBrain offers unlimited tech support through a variety of options, including live chat, email and phone services. Sadly, the live chat service isn't always available, as we tried to access it a few times and it was down each time. But we were promptly given a response to our email and the phone service was very helpful.
Many things about TaxBrain can be confusing, from the interface to the pricing. But if you can navigate it all, it is a solid service that offers streamlined tax prep and strong tech support.
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Here is NextAdvisor's review of TaxBrain: http://www.nextadvisor.com/online_tax_preparation_services/taxbrain_review.php