THE GOOD

Clean and modern interface:

ESmart made some major design improvements to their 2014 edition, most notably a totally redesigned interface. This redesign includes new forms, a simple and intuitive filing process that walks you through federal and state taxes, and a new help menu is visible throughout the tax filing process. These updates are a major improvement over last year's version and help eSmart stand out as a top contender.

Retail location for extra assistance:

If you start to work through your taxes and decide you would rather work with an accountant, eSmart is owned by Liberty Tax and extra guidance can be received at a retail location. You can easily find a Liberty Tax location by clicking a simple link inside the eSmart Tax software.

Import prior-year tax forms:

You can import last year's tax returns from a lengthy list of other online tax software products while using eSmart. Some of the companies include TurboTax, TaxACT, H&R Block, FreeTaxUSA, efile.com, and others. Having the ability to import makes it easy to switch to eSmart if you have never filed your taxes with them before.

Affordable prices:

If you have simple tax needs, the free version of eSmart is a great option. If you're taxes are a little more complex, prices for the mid- and upper-end versions of eSmart range from $9.95 - $29.95 and are among the most affordable among top online tax software. They may not have the name recognition of some of the major players, but with a price tag that can be up to $20 cheaper, eSmart may be the way to go this year.

THE BAD

Missing some of the fundamentals:

The software is missing some of the more common features like a life events advisor and tax calculator. ESmart does have a series of questions that help identify some of the major life events, but relative to competing online tax products, the life events section comes up a bit short. A tax calculator can help you understand what to expect with your taxes and is another common feature that is missing from the software.

Limited deduction discovery resources:

There's no section dedicated to deduction discovery within eSmart Tax. The section works by asking a series of questions and guides you through deductions that might be applicable. However, deduction discovery is an important part of online tax software, and many competitive products have superior tools. For those who consistently file similar taxes, identifying new deductions might not be a priority. For those that may have more complex tax needs, an alternative solution might be warranted.

THE DETAILS

Details
Editions Basic (Free Federal Edition), Deluxe, Premium
Federal Price $0 - $49.95
State Price $9.95

FEATURES

Title
  • Accuracy Guarantee The software company guarantees your taxes are accurate.

  • Double-Check Returns The software automatically double-checks your tax return to ensure it is accurate.

  • Maximum Refund Guarantee The software guarantees you will get the maximum refund possible.

  • Real-Time Balance Meter The software provides a real-time meter displaying the balance of your refund or the amount you owe.

  • Audit Risk Identification The software indicates your audit risk and recommends solutions to minimize the risk.

  • Prior Year Comparison The software automatically compares the current tax return with the previous year's return and highlights any differences.

  • Tax Calculator The software has a tool that allows you to estimate your tax refund or the amount you will owe.

  • Business Owner Deductions The software identifies deductions specifically for business owners (Schedule C).

  • Charity Donations The software allows you to deduce charity donations.

  • Depreciation Summary The software allows you to enter depreciated items and provides you with summary figures (form 4562).

  • Itemized Deductions The software allows you to itemize your deductions.

  • Rental Property Deductions The software allows you to deduce rental property deductions (Schedule E).

  • Standard Deductions The software supports the standard deduction method.

  • Vehicle Deduction Methods The software allows you to deduct actual expenses or standard mileage rates for your vehicle.

  • Check Your tax refund can be disbursed via check.

  • Direct Deposit Refund Your tax refund can be deposited directly into your bank account.

  • Multiple Account Deposit Your tax refund can be deposited directly into multiple accounts.

  • Pre-Paid Card Your tax refund can be disbursed via a pre-paid card.

  • Savings Bonds Your tax refund can be used to purchase savings bonds from the U.S. government.

  • Asset Depreciation The software compares asset depreciation methods and indicates which option will be most favorable.

  • Charity Donation Tool A tool exists to help you identify, value, and process charity donations.

  • Deduction Discovery The software searches available deductions to ensure you get the maximum refund possible.

  • Information Transfer You can pull information from previous tax forms directly into current year forms.

  • Interview Guidance The software asks you questions and uses your answers to automatically complete the appropriate forms.

  • Prior Year Returns You can access your return from a previous year.

  • Reminders You can flag or bookmark any areas of uncertainty and return to them at a later time.

  • Rental Property Tool A tool exists to help you identify and process deductions associated with rental properties.

  • Step-by-Step Guidance The software provides interfaces that guide you step-by-step through the tax preparation and submission processes.

  • Industry-Specific Tax Deductions The software provides a walk-through of industry-specific deductions.

  • Life Events Advisor The software has functionality that helps you identify major life events and understand how these events impact your taxes.

  • Costs Deducted From Return Any fees associated with preparing and filing your taxes can be deducted from your tax refund.

  • E-File Extensions You can e-file an IRS tax extension.

  • E-File Federal Returns You can e-file your federal tax return.

  • E-File State Returns You can e-file your state tax return.

  • Free Federal Edition You can e-file your federal tax return for free.

  • IRS Confirmation You receive confirmation that the IRS has received your e-filed tax forms.

  • Amended Tax Returns You can access, prepare, and/or print paper copies of amended tax returns.

  • Prior Year Filing You can access, prepare, and/or print paper copies of prior year filings.

  • Head of House The software supports filing under head of house status.

  • Married Filing Jointly The software supports joint filing for married users.

  • Married Filing Separately The software supports separate filing for married users.

  • Qualifying Widow(er) The software supports filing under qualifying widow(er) status.

  • Single The software supports filing under single status.

  • Alternative Preparer Import You can import forms prepared by other companies or software solutions.

  • Import 1099 Forms You can import 1099 forms.

  • Import Prior Year Returns You can import your prior year tax return.

  • Import W-2 Forms You can import W-2 tax forms.

  • Automatic Import You can automatically import your tax forms from partner organizations.

  • Import 1098 Forms You can import 1098 forms.

  • FAQ The company provides a list of answers to frequently asked questions.

  • Glossary The company provides a glossary of tax terms.

  • Knowledge Base The company provides a knowledge base of detailed help articles.

  • Forum The company provides an interactive forum where users can post questions and answers.

  • Video Tutorials The company provides video tutorials.

  • Audit Support The company will provide audit support if you get audited in the future.

  • Email/Tickets The company has an email or ticket system dedicated to support.

  • Live Chat The company offers live chat support.

  • Phone You can contact the company by phone to get support.

  • Retail Locations You can get in-person support at local retail locations.

  • Social Media You can contact the company with questions through social media websites.

  • Video Conference You can prepare your taxes with a tax professional through a live video conference.

  • Android Application You can download a native Android application of the software.

  • Apple Application You can download a native Apple application of the software for use on your iPhone or iPad.

PRICING

Basic (Federal Free Edition)

Federal Fee: $0
State Fee: $9.95

Deluxe

Federal Fee: $29.95
State Fee: $9.95

Premium

Federal Fee: $49.95
State Fee: $9.95

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