E-file is one of the top-rated tax platforms available today, mostly because this product offers high value to taxpayers at an affordable price. If you, for example, have to file a federal tax return and are eligible for Form 1040EZ filing, you will be able to prepare and file your tax return with this software at no cost whatsoever.
Don’t confuse E-file, the software we are reviewing today with e-filing, the IRS’s general process of filing returns online.
E-file is, generally speaking, more affordable than its competitors. It follows a do-it-yourself- approach to an extent, and if you are completely inexperienced with filing taxes with software, you may find the interface’s user-friendliness to be somewhat lacking.
How it Works
Although the interface asks your questions to determine your tax situation, you will have to do a lot of the work yourself. When you prepare your return with this platform, you will notice that the entire process is divided into sections pertaining to income, deductions, and so forth.
Each section is divided into subsections. For example, in “income” you will find segments for investments and small-business activities. Before you start working on a particular section, you will have to answer a series of questions so that the interface knows which forms and schedules it should present to you.
If you are an experienced tax filer and know exactly which forms you should file, you can skip the questions and continue on your own.
The plan you selected may not be entirely suited for your unique situation. In cases like these, the software will recommend that you upgrade your account. If you had a simple tax situation but chose a high-tier version, E-file will automatically downgrade your account, and you will not have to pay for services that you don’t need.
100% Accuracy Guarantee
If there are calculation errors in your return preparation process, the IRS may slam you with a penalty or interest. Like many of its competitors, however, E-file offers an accuracy guarantee. If the calculation error is the result of a software glitch, E-file will accept responsibility to protect you.
If you filed your tax return with E-file during the previous year, you will be able to import it directly to the return that you are currently preparing. This feature helps to save time, and it makes it easier for you to prepare your return without making mistakes.
Filing Return for Past Years
If for some reason, you didn’t file your tax return for the previous year, you can use E-file’s platform to file those returns now. Filing returns for earlier years with E-file doesn’t cost anything, and you will be able to claim a tax refund for the past three years as well.
E-file offers free audit assistance to their clients that include corresponding to the IRS on your behalf and providing you with information and status updates throughout the entire audit process. This service does not include audit representation, however.
Like most other tax software providers, E-file offers tax and tech support via email and a support ticket. Unfortunately, E-file doesn’t provide customers with live chat or phone support. If you contact E-file’s support team via the support ticket, you can expect them to respond within one business day.
The help sidebar is probably one of the most helpful features to inexperience taxpayers. The sidebar provides users with basic information about the tax topics they are currently working on. The help sidebar will also advise you on how to proceed after completing a section or subsection.
Pay with Your Refund
Aside from paying with your credit or debit card, you also have the option to pay for E-file’s tax return preparation and filing services with the refund you receive from the IRS. Many users prefer this option as it allows them to pay E-file without having to provide their credit card details upfront.
Three Plan Options
With E-file, you can choose from three software versions, namely Free Basic, Deluxe, and Premium. Your specific tax situation should play a crucial part in determining which plan is right for you. Each version allows you to file as many state returns as you like without having to pay more.
Let’s take a detailed look at each version.
All versions require that you pay $19 for state tax filing. The good news is that if you file in multiple states, you only pay the one time $19 charge.
The Free Basic plan is suitable for single and joint filers who have no dependents and who don’t have to file additional schedules. In other words, if you are eligible for filing form 1040EZ, you can prepare and submit your return with the Free Basic plan.
A prominent feature of the Free Basic plan is that it offers free federal filing.
Deluxe – $24.99
The Deluxe version offers all the features that the Free Basic plan does. Also, single or joint filers who have dependents and who have to file specific additional schedules will also be able to use this edition without any problems. Federal filing is not free with the Deluxe version, however.
Premium – $45.99
People who have complex tax situations should use the Premium version. Included in this plan is all the features of the Free Basic and Deluxe plans as well as filing for investment, rental property, and small business income.
If you need the Premium plan, but selected the Deluxe of Free Basic editions, the software will recommend that you upgrade your account.
TurboTax – You aren’t talking about tax software without TurboTax being mentioned. TurboTax is the most recognized name in online tax filing.
FreeTaxUSA – A completely free option for all federal returns. FreeTaxUSA has a nice niche, but is lacking a little in the bells and whistles.
TaxSlayer – With a long history and highly competent team, TaxSlayer has emerges as a top tax filing option.
- E-file’s paid plans are affordable in comparison with the competitors’ programs that offer the same features. State return filing is also affordable, especially if you have to file in more than one state.
- The interface is not crowded with a lot of information, save for the help sidebar. Many experienced tax filers prefer this interface over one of the high-end competitors.
- E-file offers a wide range of features, including prior return importing, paying for services with a refund, and an accuracy guarantee.
- You can’t file your state tax return for free, not even with the Basic Free version.
- Customer support is limited, and you can’t access the support team via phone or live
- Users can’t import W-2 forms or tax returns from third party software.
E-File Review Bottom Line
E-File offers a useful and well designed product. They are not as user friendly as some of their competitors, but they charge less for higher level services than those competitors.
Overall, E-File.com should be a consideration as a top online tax service, especially for those who are filing in multiple states, but otherwise have fairly simple returns.
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