Maybe you’ve decided that it’s time to get your act together when it comes to your taxes. Sure, you can hire a professional accountant to work out your taxes for you, but it’s costly.
Most of the time, if you put a little effort into it, your tax return is nothing that you can’t handle yourself.
Let’s be honest; wading through the various tax forms can be pretty tedious. They don’t call it red tape for nothing and if you’re not fluent in tax law, it can be confusing. TaxAct promises to make things simple for you.
This TaxAct review will see whether it lives up to that promise.
How It Works
It’s fairly simple: choose the right option for you, and then go through each of the steps. You’ll need to answer a series of questions. This will help the program decide what you are going to need to file and to identify credits or deductions that you may qualify for.
You can work through the form at your own pace, and you have TaxAct’s accuracy guarantee. Should the software make a mistake that causes you to receive a penalty, the company will pay the penalty and interest.
Aside from guiding you through the process of completing your return and telling you what credits might apply, there are some other useful features.
Tax Return Status App
Do you want to know how far along your tax return is? Has it been received by the relevant authority? When do you get your refund? This app will tell you that.
All you have to do is to download it, and it will give you updates. It’s available for anyone – even those not using the software.
This is a particularly useful app. You can take photographs of any documents that you might need for your taxes. The app allows you to edit and store up to 3GB of data. This app is also available free to everyone.
Data Archive Service
This is a service that allows you to access your returns from the last three years. You’ll need to pay a once-off charge of $13.99 per return. Once that’s paid, you can amend the return and file it.
You do need to have subscribed to one of TaxAct’s plans to be able to amend or complete the data.
Prepaid Visa Card Refund Promotion
This is a collaboration with American Express. Through this, you can opt to receive your refund on a prepaid card. There is a monthly fee of $4.95 to keep the card, and you’ll have to pay to withdraw money, but this is a good option if you don’t have a bank account.
This only works for federal refunds, not state refunds, however.
When you file, you’ll pay the price that applied when you first created your account. This applies even if you don’t complete the return until a few months later.
There aren’t many things that can strike fear into the heart quite as effectively as a tax audit. The audit support service provides a wide range of information about what you need to do if you receive notice of an audit.
This feature puts you in touch with people who can assist you if you’re being audited. This is more than just information, but rather someone who can help you negotiate with the IRS.
It’s included free of charge with the Premium plan. For all other plans, you need to pay $49. You’ll need to pay for this upfront when you file, but you have the option to cancel it within thirty days of buying it if you aren’t audited.
There are several options to choose from.
You can file your returns free of charge. This is a good option for someone with a very simple return. You won’t be able to import a prior tax return or claim deductions. Functionality is limited. If your situation is simple and you have no dependents, this option will work for you.
You do have access to the support panel and to the technical support desk. You’ll also get recommendations on where you might be able to save on taxes going forward.
Basic – $9.95
This is the cheapest paid plan. You get everything that that’s on the Free plan and also:
- The ability to claim dependents
- The ability to import your previous tax return and the info on it. It must be in PDF format. For this, you’ll pay an extra $5.
- The ability to handle more information.
Deluxe – $29.95
This is a lot more robust than the simpler plans and can handle a more complex return. You get everything that’s on the Basic plan, and:
- Free importing of your previous year’s tax return
- The ability to itemize deductions
- Schedule B for amounts of interest or dividends more than $1500
- Schedule D for income that constitutes a capital gain
- Income from rentals or royalties
- This is a product that helps to detect identity theft and helps to restore your good name. This by itself may be worth the cost of the plan.
- Donation Assistant. You can use this to help keep track of charitable contributions that you have made throughout the year.
Premium – $34.95
The Premium plan offers everything that the Deluxe package does with the addition of prioritized customer support and the ability to import all of your stock data at once. You can also clearly itemize your deductions.
Self-Employed – $49.95
This is ideal if you work for yourself. It includes the Deduction Maximizer too and comes with a guarantee worth up to $100,000. You can use it year-round for advice on tax planning.
In addition to the packages listed above, the company offers several plans for businesses and organizations that have a more complex tax situation.
Tax Act Competitors
- Tax Slayer – Not as well known, but a solid competitor. Tax Slayer has a long, storied history and is a great option.
- TurboTax – The most well known tax software, TurboTax is a top option and worth checking out.
- H&R Block – The best combination of online and in-person tax prep, H&R Block is a great platform and a top option for anyone.
- DocVault helps you keep track of forms
- Price locks in when you sign up
- Some great features
- Prepaid card options for refunds
- Lower price means fewer features.
- Free option is very basic, without ability to claim deductions or credits.
- You can’t easily access prior returns. If you want to, you’ll need to pay the fee per return.
- The support system takes some getting used to, and the company doesn’t seem to want people phoning in. The contact number for support is difficult to find.
- It times out pretty fast.
- You can only import previous returns from TurboTax or H&R Block.
Tax Act Review Bottom Line
If you have some groundwork in the tax process and know what you’re doing, you won’t miss the extra explanatory features that come with higher-priced tax preparation products. Similarly, if you’re in a very basic tax situation with no dependents, TaxAct might be right for you.
Those in more complicated situations who need a little more help may want to look elsewhere. The limited ability to import data could be a time waster, and customer support is limited.
This is where you must balance affordability with the features you need to make tax time as stress-free as possible.