Preparing tax returns is the bane of every U.S. citizen’s existence, so it’s not surprising that more and more people are turning to tax prep solutions. These services certainly can help you deal with taxes in no time, but nowadays this just isn’t enough. In fact, it’s actually the little features and extras with which companies try to convince newcomers that are the most important things to consider. This is exactly what these two services, TaxSlayer – one of the oldest tax companies around – and TaxAct manage to do. However, whereas the former focuses more on a traditional approach with smaller extras, the latter tries to impress its clientele with convenience.
|Free Versions||Free Versions||Free Versions|
|Filing for Deceased|
|Previous Years' Returns|
|Covered Tax Topics|
|Forms & Attachments|
|Email Confirmation||Filing only|
|Software & Platforms|
|State Tax Price|
|IRS Audit Assistance||$49|
|ID Theft Protection||$39.99 ($79.99/yr after first year)|
|Available Payment Methods|
Although TaxSlayer cannot be considered the best of the bunch, it still has its own merits, particularly if you look beyond the typical features of such a program. In fact, very few tax prep solutions contain clever extras like video tutorials embedded on certain pages or the Quick File function that assembles a list of forms to be filed and, therefore, lets users navigate to the necessary topics with a single click. Additionally, TaxSlayer can easily handle data importing from previous years’ returns or documents prepared by competing services, a feature that works even better when the program fetches information from federal forms and ports it over to the state returns. To make things better, TaxSlayer is available with any kind of browser as well as on mobile with a bespoke app – although this version has fewer features despite the fact that it is able to capture and process printed W-2s with the device’s camera.
But when it comes to paying for TaxSlayer, it doesn’t offer much since its prices are pretty average, whether we’re talking about the product itself or any of the extra services – which also include third-party services. However, there is one major advantage of TaxSlayer that virtually no other tax prep solution provider offers: its free product, Simply Free, allows users to file their 1040EZs alongside one state return entirely for free. And as a nice addition, there is the option participate in the company’s referral program, although it’s worth noting that these perks only include eGift cards and not discounts or deductions on any of the available products or services.
Despite being decades younger than its competitor, TaxAct is the prime example of how to put together a tax prep solution with the express purpose of making tax returns a breeze. Not only is the software a powerhouse with one of the most straightforward interfaces ever seen but it’s also equipped with a plethora of additional features like the appropriately named Donation Assistant or the handy deduction maximizer. But this is just the beginning for this service as TaxAct is capable of bookmarking topics – to be revisited later on – and provides an extensive help tab so that nothing goes unanswered. The program asks its own questions, too, requesting users for permission to upgrade to a higher-tier product, while the quiz related to taxes are thorough and easily understandable. Granted, the mobile app may not function on all platforms, but TaxAct is available on any kind of browser – smartphones included – without any limitations. And to top it all, the account – which can house multiple tax returns – has such advanced security that it’s virtually impossible for someone to tamper with your data without you knowing it.
Unfortunately, TaxAct’s free version is a bit limited and the company only provides one extra service, Audit Defense. However, its other products are quite cost-friendly, allowing users to enjoy many TaxAct features for as low as $14.95. And to make the deal even sweeter, if you receive a referral from another user, then there is the option to reduce those base prices by another 20%.
It’s quite a challenge to choose between these two tax preparation solutions because they have many things in common, especially where the less integral features are concerned. So, it’s best to ask the question: would you prefer the more traditional program with a better free version or the software that has mastered convenience. TaxSlayer is the more down-to-earth solution, though it still provides many little extras with which taxes can be dealt with in a jiffy. Plus, it’s quite rare that such a service lets users of its free program file a state tax return without paying, too. TaxAct, on the other hand, cannot pull off this trick, but instead it provides neat bonuses like a joint account for multiple tax returns and a straightforward program with so many features of convenience that it could easily turn the nightmarish process of tax return preparation into a simple and pleasant experience.
Best Tax Software of 2020