TaxAct Review - What You Should Know Before Filing

Take a look at what we loved and thought could use some improvement

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The Bottom Line: TaxAct may be an ideal fit for someone who's seeking a budget-friendly tax filing option online, with the added convenience of a mobile app.

Pros

  • More affordable than other tax filing programs

  • Accuracy is 100% guaranteed and backed by $100,000

  • Users can import PDF files of 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ returns

Cons

  • Online users can't import W-2s

  • Excluding free file, an additional fee applies for state returns

  • Fewer bells and whistles compared to other tax filing software

Introduction

TaxAct provides tax preparation software that's designed to fit a variety of filing needs, ranging from consumers who are looking for a way to file a simple federal return for free to self-employed business owners, freelancers, and contractors who want to maximize every deduction. There are five filing products available for consumers, but for testing purposes, we used the online Deluxe+ version, which TaxAct touts as its most popular option. Dive into our review to learn more about the features, pricing, support, and ease of use to help you decide if TaxAct is the right tax filing software for you.

See our other picks when it comes to the best tax software programs to use before you file.

TaxAct Pricing and Packages

As mentioned earlier, TaxAct offers five online filing products for consumers. The following table highlights one, along with its pricing and the add-on rate for filing state returns.

TaxAct also offers a downloadable software version for consumer tax returns. The downloadable version is suited for households that need to file multiple returns for different taxpayers. Free filing isn't an option but there are four other programs to choose from:

Pricewise, TaxAct's online filing versions are easier on the wallet compared to other tax filing programs. For example, a homeowner would pay $29.95 for the Deluxe+ version with TaxAct while some of its competitors charge $49.99 or $59.99 for the same tier product.

One great thing TaxAct offers that some of the other tax prep software companies don't is a Price Lock Guarantee. It's pretty simple: the price you lock in at the time you choose which software program to use is the same price you pay when you actually file.

So if you start your Deluxe+ return in February but don't file your return until May, the price won't change. One thing to know, though. You only get this perk with TaxAct's online software products.

TaxAct Features

There are some tax programs out there that come with lots of extras. For example, you might find a program that integrates with TurboTax's ItsDeductible app so you can easily add deductible expenses. There are also programs that integrate with income and expense tracking apps to make tax filing easier for freelancers and independent contractors.

TaxAct, unfortunately, doesn't come with those kinds of add-ons. It really is a no-frills filing software that's designed to help you prepare your return.

That's good if you want a simple and easy-to-use program but it's also a drawback because one thing you can't do with the online version is import W-2s. That's something many of TaxAct's competitors include with their software programs. If you want to be able to import W-2s, you'll need to spring for one of the downloadable TaxAct versions instead.

In terms of protections, TaxAct does offer a few nice perks in addition to the Price Lock Guarantee. Here's a quick look at how they compare:

TaxAct Guarantees
$100K Accuracy Guarantee/Maximum Refund Guarantee TaxAct guarantees that its software is 100% accurate so you can get your maximum refund. If it ends up not being accurate, TaxAct will refund your software costs and pay any difference in your lower refund or higher tax liability, plus cover any legal or audit costs up to $100,000.
Satisfaction Guarantee If you're not 100% satisfied with any TaxAct product you can discontinue using it prior to completing the billing step without paying anything.
Money Back Guarantee TaxAct download users can get a full refund of any product they're not completely satisfied with within 30 days of receipt. This guarantee doesn't apply after you use the downloadable software to print or e-file a return that's accepted by the IRS or a state tax agency.

Ease of Use/Design

The TaxAct website gets high marks for being simple to use. To get started with TaxAct, you first choose which online product you want to use, then create an account.

You'll need to enter your e-mail and verify your account using a code TaxAct provides. From there, you choose a username and password and select three security questions you want to answer. The final step is agreeing to TaxAct's terms and conditions.

When you get into your online account, you're automatically taken to the My Taxes screen, where you can add a new federal tax return. If you're ready to prepare your return, there are five tabs to complete:

Basic: On this tab, you'll enter your:

  • Name
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Occupation - Dependent information
  • Filing status
  • Life events (such as getting married or having a baby) that could affect your filing

Federal: This is where you'll enter information for your federal tax return, including:

  • Income
  • Deductions
  • Credits
  • Additional taxes owed
  • Miscellaneous tax items, such as estimated taxes paid
  • This tab concludes with a federal tax summary and an estimate of your federal refund or taxes owed. 

State: TaxAct automatically transfers information from your federal return over to your state return. On this tab, you just have to choose the state you want to file and answer the Q&A. You'll need to tell TaxAct:

  • Which county you live in
  • Your residency and veteran status
  • Additions to federal income or deductions
  • Credits and nonresident tax payments you'd like to enter

Similar to the Federal tab, the State tab concludes with a summary of your state filing, including your refund or taxes owed.

Review: The Review tab allows you to review your federal and state returns for three different types of issues:

  • Red alerts: Incomplete or inconsistent information
  • Yellow alerts: Potential inaccuracies
  • Green alerts: Potential tax savings

You'll sign and date your return here. Once you've done that you can view a personalized financial savings report showing future tax savings opportunities. You can also compare your federal returns year over year here and see how your tax filing compares to the national average.

Filing: This is where you'll actually file your return. If you opt to e-file, you'll need to enter your payment information. If you'd rather file a paper return, you can print your tax forms from this screen.

New Year: This tab walks you through different things you can do to get prepared for next year's tax filing, such as determining your W-4 withholding allowances and estimating your tax liability in different scenarios.

Overall, the online site is very easy to navigate, as there aren't a ton of menu options to choose from. Basically, you can file your taxes, update your personal information, verify your login history and use the tax calculator to estimate your return.

Bottom line, even if you're brand-new to filing your taxes, TaxAct's online software doesn't overwhelm.

TaxAct Support

TaxAct is happy to offer customer support by e-mail or phone to answer questions or guide you through any tax prep issues. Here's how you can get in touch with a TaxAct service rep:

TaxAct Support Contact Information
Type of Support By Email By Phone Phone Support Availability
Tax Help taxquestion@taxact.com (319) 373-3600 Mid-April to Mid-January: M-F 8 AM to 5 PM CST; Mid-January to April filing deadline: M-F 8 AM to 8 PM CST, Saturday 9 AM to 5 PM CST
Customer Support assistance@taxact.com (319) 373-3600 Mid-April to Mid-January: M-F 8 AM to 5 PM CST; Mid-January to April filing deadline: M-F 8 AM to 8 PM CST, Saturday/Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM CST (Until 12 AM on April filing due date)

TaxAct doesn't offer live chat support for online or downloaded versions. They do offer Protection Plus audit assistance if the IRS flags your return. If you need help during an audit, TaxAct will communicate with the IRS or your state tax filing agency on your behalf, assist with denied credits and tax debt relief and assist with tax fraud. Assistance is available for federal and state audits and covers your return for three years after you enroll and file.

TaxAct Mobile App

TaxAct Express is TaxAct's mobile app. The app is free for iPhone and Android users. Some of the best features of the app include:

  • W-2 capture
  • Touch ID/Face ID support for a secure log-in
  • IRS refund tracking
  • Free federal extension filing
  • Enhanced support with live chat

The app supports all of TaxAct's online products and you can seamlessly switch from the app to desktop without losing any of your progress when preparing your return. Returns prepared and filed through the app come with the $100K Accuracy Guarantee. You can get personalized product recommendations and notifications when the IRS and state have processed your returns.

TaxAct updated its app to cover a wider range of tax situations, such as dependent credits, education credits and deductions, interest and dividend income and the Earned Income Credit. If you want to combine convenience with live chat help, the app delivers both.

TaxAct vs. The Competition

This review has already touched on some of the differences in pricing and features between TaxAct and competing tax software. To recap, here's a look at how TaxAct stacks up against two other well-known online tax filing programs:

Competitive Analysis
Considerations TaxAct TurboTax H&R Block
Cost Range $0 to $49.95 for federal returns; $19.95 to $36.95 for state returns $0 to $89.99 for federal returns; $39.99 for state returns $0 to $79.99 for federal returns; $36.99 for state returns
Best Features Clean, easy to navigate design; mobile app W-2 capture; import federal tax returns filed with other tax software PDF form; Price Lock and Accuracy Guarantees; Protection Plus audit assistance Integrates with ItsDeductible; import tax returns filed with other software in PDF form; professional tax prep assitance with TurboTax Live; simplified, free expense tracking for self-employed filers Mobile app W-2 capture; import tax returns filed with other software in PDF form; five percent refund bonus when you load some or all of your refund to an Amazon gift card; Tax Identity Care fraud protection
Download/Mobile App Available? Yes Yes Yes
Customer Support Phone and e-mail for online and download users; live chat help available with the TaxAct Express mobile app Chat, phone and through the online TurboTax community, fees apply to speak to a live tax expert Phone, Twitter and in-person at more than 11,000 H&R Block locations

Conclusion

TaxAct's online tax filing software is best for both first-time and experienced tax filers who want a simple, cost-efficient way to prepare their taxes. It's also a solid choice for mobile users who want the added touch of live chat support on the go.