TaxAct Review 2023: A Premium Alternative
Where To File is dedicated to helping you make the best decision when it comes to filing your taxes online. While many of the products featured here and in other articles are from our partners, this doesn’t influence our reviews. Our opinions are our own, and what may be the best for one person, might not be the best for another.
TaxAct is typically seen as the budget filing option, but how much you save depends on the filing options you pick. Where you save money with TaxAct is on customer support. Unlike TurboTax or H&R Block, TaxAct packages include both technical support and tax help. TaxAct also made some serious improvements to the 2020 software (2019 tax year) to compete more directly with the bigger tax brands. The overall user experience has been improved while keeping the interface simple and efficient. Support by email and phone is included with all paid packages. Additional support tools like screen sharing and in app chat are available with Premium+ and Self-Employed+.
If you’re worried about filing taxes or have a complicated tax return we recommend TurboTax. Though it costs more, their quality of support and user guidance are the best. If you’re situation isn’t too complex, but you still want some tax help, TaxAct can save you money. Other filing services require an upgrade for advice on your tax situation.
- User friendly and efficient interface.
- Customer support through phone and email included with all paid packages.
- No upgrade needed for tax help and advice.
- Limited access to tax experts
- Context-sensitive help lacking
- Expensive state filing
Why Consider TaxAct?
Tax help and advice is included with all paid packages.
Most companies provide free technical support and require an upgrade for tax help. When you file Deluxe+, Premier+, or Self-Employed+ with TaxAct you won’t have to pay more for tax help and advice. The difference between these support types is important, especially if your 2019 tax situation changed.
Tech Support: Limited to account and software help. Think, how to reset a password, or where do I enter a form, type help.
Tax Support: Agents can discuss your tax situation and give advice. Questions such as, does this child qualify as a dependent, or how should this business expense be classified.
If you have a few tax questions, but don’t need frequent on-demand support we recommend TaxAct. Their level of tax help isn’t the same as TurboTax or H&R Block, but should be enough for most tax returns. You’ll also save money by not paying to upgrade.
What Are the TaxAct Packages and Prices?
TaxAct offers 4 packages, including the free edition. Like most online tax software TaxAct packages are priced based on the forms you need to file. If you have a complicated return you’ll likely need more than the basic package. If you file using Premium+ or Self-Employed+ you’ll also get priority support, including screen sharing.
The free edition allows you to file Form 1040, but you won’t be able to file schedules 1, 2, or 3. Only the simplest of returns will qualify. If you have a simple return and also need schedules 1, 2, or 3 we recommend you try H&R Block’s free edition. You can always start with a free edition to see if you qualify. If you don’t, the software will let you know you need to upgrade.
Covers the most simple tax returns and includes a free state return. If you need to claim anything beyond dependents or student tuition you’ll likely need to upgrade.
Includes itemized deductions and several other tax credits, adjustments, and deductions. Unlimited email and phone support is also included.
Covers most tax situations except business income. If you have stocks, investments, or rental property you’ll need this package. You’ll also get priority support by phone, some in-app chat, and screen share capabilities.
Meant for freelancers and self-employed. Includes priority support, year-round tax support and planning, and the tools you need to report business income, expenses, and depreciation.
Please note, we’ve reviewed TaxAct based on pricing at the time of writing. TaxAct and many other tax websites start off with lower pricing at the beginning of the season. Prices to file with TaxAct are subject to change without notice. We’ll update prices as they change, but you can verify current prices by clicking through to TaxAct’s site.
Completing a paper tax return can be frustrating and confusing. TaxAct, like other online tax software, aims to reduce the complexity of filing taxes. The online interview process removes the sometimes complicated calculations you’d experience on your own and the back and forth between forms. Instead of wondering about what forms you need, or how numbers are calculated, you simply answer questions about your tax situation, or enter numbers from forms you’ve received, like a W-2. Similar to working with a friend who knows taxes, the software will handle the calculations and forms in the background.
The feel of the TaxAct interview is more direct than the friendly approach of TurboTax. The interface of TaxAct is also more simple, with fewer animations, bells, and whistles. To some this may be overly bland, to others it will feel much more efficient. You can get around the site using the navigation bar on the left-hand side that holds the main sections of the tax return. As a best practice we recommend following the interview process rather than jumping around to sections or forms.
TaxAct Tax Tools
TaxAct offers a variety of tools to help speed up the tax filing process.
W-2 & 1099 Import: You can save time and reduce the risk of errors by importing your W-2 or 1099. To import these forms your employer or financial institution needs to be support by the TaxAct system (many are). If they aren’t, you’ll need to enter the information manually.
Donation Assistant: TaxAct offers a donation assistant to help you track charitable donations and provide values for donated items. The assistant will help you maximize your tax deduction and eliminate the guess work of donations values.
Deduction Maximizer: Self-Employed+ includes a tool to help you maximize your deductions by looking for commonly claimed deductions based on your line of work.
Competitor Import: If you’re looking to make a switch from TurboTax or H&R Block you can import data from PDF files of your 1040.
Flexible Filing: On the go or at home, flexible filing allows you to prepare your taxes at your convenience. Access your TaxAct return anywhere you have an internet connection. If you prefer to use a mobile device, TaxAct has an app.
How does TaxAct compare to TurboTax?
TaxAct has the potential to save you money, but savings depend on the package and support you need to successfully file. If you’re worried about your tax return, starting with TurboTax might be worth the extra cost.
Simple interface without many design elements.
A tax filing process that flows naturally.
Free tax and technical help, but limited support options compared to TurboTax.
Offers the most flexible and complete support options and filing guidance.
Less expensive, but still more expensive than most filing options.
Similarly priced, unless you upgrade to TurboTax Live.
TaxAct Support Options
Most of the support options offered by TaxAct are included in their package pricing. Specialty products like TurboTax live aren’t generally available on TaxAct, but unless your return is complicated you might need such robust features.
Free Support Tools
These options are included with the free edition of TaxAct. If you want tax help you’ll need to upgrade.
Basic Support Tools
Premium Support Tools
If you file with Premium+ and Self-Employed+ you’ll get these additional features.
Getting Your Tax Refund
The fastest way to get your tax refund when you file with TaxAct is through direct deposit. Other options include a paper check, applying your return to next year’s tax liability, or buying U.S. Savings Bonds. You can also have the refund deposited on an American Express Serve prepaid debit card.
You can also pay for your tax return with your refund, but it costs an additional $49.95 to do that.
What Else Should I Know About TaxAct?
TaxAct offers a $100,000 Accuracy Guarantee for online e-filed tax returns. If an error in the software results in a smaller refund, larger tax liability, penalties, or interests TaxAct will refund you and/or cover costs up to $100,000.
A Safe Pick
If you want to file without paying more for tax help and want an interface that’s similar to the more expensive brands, TaxAct is an ideal choice. You won’t find as many robust support options, but for most returns the general support tools should be enough. The TaxAct software is a simple and reliable. If you expect a lot of advanced features and on-demand support, you might want to shell out for a more expensive program like TurboTax.