One could argue that TaxACT is the working person’s tax software. In other words, while other tax prep services focus on features like audit defense and protection, and more comprehensive reviews of filings through a tax professional – TaxACT sticks to the basics.
It realizes that not everyone is concerned about getting audited, and many personal filers don’t need to consider many different deductions or credits. Furthermore, they are not small business owners or self-employed, so they just need a program that is basic and straightforward.
Let us introduce you to TaxACT which is very suitable for certain taxpayers, and not nearly as applicable for others.
- Affordable tax service compared to its competitors
- Brand new design for 2019 looks more professional
- Automatic upload of W-2 data to tax documents
- Unlimited email and phone support on certain plans
- Good audit defense available for three years with extra fee
- Lacks some of the more comprehensive features of TurboTax and H&R Block
- Support is not nearly as robust as other competitors
- Costs an extra fee to apply a refund to the paid services you used through TaxACT
If you have used TaxACT in the past the first thing you are going to notice that its presentation is significantly different for 2019. Like the U.S. tax system is getting an overhaul in 2019, so is the design of TaxACT.
Though users are still getting a feel for the new layout most will agree that the design is a drastic improvement over the previous edition. Gone are a lot of unnecessary stock images and fonts, as everything is much more simplified as well as mobile-friendly.
Along with the better design, information is also more straightforward and informative. TaxACT has incorporated more tips and red flags if something gets missed during the filing process.
Despite the new changes, TaxACT still has a far more simpler interface than TurboTax and H&R Block, but that doesn’t mean its severely inferior. The budget-friendly tax service is still straightforward and rather simple to use.
Like most online services for tax prep, the company also has W-2 import functionality. Long gone are the days where one had to enter in all the W-2 information manually. Now, you just take a photo and the data is automatically uploaded.
Though the app may not have all of the features of some higher priced competitors, the planning tools and tax calculators provided are a nice touch.
Furthermore, you can also prep your taxes from a smartphone or tablet while on the go.
TaxACT provides a basic form of guidance for an audit through its FAQ page.
It is possible to invest in an actual audit defense by paying for Protection Plus, which currently costs $49. The coverage does provide three years of audit services after the year of the return, which is a little longer than some defense packages.
TaxACT can help walk you through the audit process, handle communication with the IRS and state government, deal with denied tax credits, and also deliver tax fraud assistance.
It’s a fairly good audit defense service, however, like insurance you need to buy it as a preventive service because it is only available at the time you file the returns, not after the fact when you receive notice of an audit.
Tax Return Options
There are a number of ways you can receive your refund from the federal and/or state government:
- Provide a bank account number for direct deposit (the fastest option)
- Receive a paper check by mail
- Transfer to an American Express Serve prepaid debit card
- Apply the refund to next year’s taxes
- Direct the IRS to buy U.S. Savings Bonds
The company also has its own Refund Marketplace where you can spend the money on gifts for you, or another person. TaxACT rewards these customers by adding up to $100 to your refund when you keep the money internally through the marketplace.
Lastly, you can pay for the services you used through TaxACT, but the company charges an additional fee for using a refund in this manner.
TaxACT is considered affordable for an online tax software provider.
Additionally, its ‘price-lock’ guarantee promises that even if you are start your tax preparation months in advance, and the price changes on the version you are using in the meantime, it will observe the original price whenever it is time to file.
The service offers a free version that allows you to file a new Form 1040. It will also allow a few select credits to get applied to the filing without jacking up the costs.
Paid versions are more applicable to homeowners and those that are itemizing their deductions. They also are a necessity for self-employed freelancers and small business owners.
Another great aspect of the paid plans is that it allows you to import last year’s TaxACT return in order to get through the filing process quicker. The paid options include:
- Basic+ – $9.95
- Deluxe+ – $29.95
- Premier+ – $39.95
- Self-Employed+ – $59.95
NOTE: State filing does cost extra for even the paid plans.
TaxACT has a lot of variety in its support types even if it’s not quite as robust as other providers.
The email assistance for tax questions on paid plans is a nice feature, as is the unlimited phone support with tax specialists. The screen sharing for Premier+ and Self-Employed+ is another positive introduction to their support.
Though TaxACT is upfront in that not all of their tax support staff are certified accountants, the website does note they have prepared taxes before and taken related courses. The specialists have also received 80-100 hours of in-house training.
The specialists do not, however, provide tax advice. For example, they will not tell you whether you should take a particular deduction. Instead, they may help you understand what forms you need and provide relevant information.
The support is not 24/7, though it does open its doors every day of the week including weekends.
TaxACT Review – How does it help you file a return?
You may not get all the features and live support of higher priced competitors, yet if you just need a no-frills, affordable way to prep and file taxes without a lot of hassle – TaxACT is very good.