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November 12, 2015

Online Tax Software

TaxSlayer Review

TaxSlayer has found the right balance between guided wizards and user freedom. With competitive pricing and the fundamentals covered, TaxSlayer is well-designed and deserves to be considered as one of the best online tax products.

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The Good

Choose to be guided or to handle sections on your own

TaxSlayer gives you the choice to be guided or to handle processes on your own for major sections like Income and Deductions. For those who are unfamiliar with the tax process, having a guide can be an extremely useful feature. If you have been filing similar taxes for years or you're confident in the tax process, being forced to participate in guides or wizards can be an annoyance and ultimately just drags out the filing process. Having a choice is nice.

Life events guide

The life events guide walks you through a series of major life events that could potentially impact your tax return. Some form of life events guide is a common feature found in several online tax software products, but the TaxSlayer interface is particularly strong. Events that are covered in the guide include: home, family, job, business, investments, and rentals. One great feature in the life events guide is the ability to skip areas you know have not changed and dive deeper into areas of uncertainty.

Prior-year comparison

TaxSlayer provides functionality to compare current-year returns with the prior year. For most people, taxes don't change significantly from year to year. Comparing current tax returns with previous years allow you to identify any unexplained anomalies and ensure your return is what you expect it to be. If you have filed with TaxSlayer in previous years, returns can easily be accessed. If you have never filed with TaxSlayer before, you can still make the comparison by manually entering your data.

Movement between sections

Some online tax software like to have complete control over the process and force you to move through each section linearly. TaxSlayer displays a small progress menu across the top of the screen and allows you to jump forward or backward at your leisure. You can also utilize reminder notes/placeholders to mark uncertain or unfinished sections to return to later. Working ahead has its risks, as data entered early in the process can help identify deduction topics to address in later sections, but having the option to move forward is a nice convenience.

Military edition

TaxSlayer provides a military edition that allows those in the armed forces to complete their taxes for free. While this is considered a specialized feature, it will be much appreciated if you are in the military.

Audit risk meter

Not all online tax software provides an audit risk meter. Audit risk meters are not indicators of whether or not you will be audited, but they do measure potential risk factors and alert you to potential red flags. Being able to address high-risk characteristics before they become a more serious problem is an excellent feature, especially if the red flags are caused by erroneous data.

The Bad

Limited facilitation features

TaxSlayer has most of the fundamental tax features covered nicely, but when it comes to more complex functionality, TaxSlayer is still a little behind the curve. Some of the more advanced products have tools specifically designed to better assist with charity donations and rental properties, or to identify industry-specific tax deductions. Having some of these more innovative resources can be especially helpful to those with more complex tax needs.

No percentage-completed meter

The menu and submenu items help communicate the different types of tax sections that will need to be addressed and provide a general idea of what subtasks can be found in each section. However, without a percentage-completed meter, the ability to gauge where you are in the process is limited.

Limited support

To be fair, TaxSlayer does provide phone, email, and audit support, which are probably the most common in the industry. However, for those moments of uncertainty when a little extra guidance could help, having a quick exchange through live chat is much more appealing that working through an automated phone menu, or waiting a full day for an email response.

No user forum

TaxSlayer doesn't provide a forum where you can interact with other tax filers and tax professionals. Forums can be a useful resource in terms of getting answers to common questions and getting guidance from both amateurs and professionals. TaxSlayer does provide a fairly comprehensive knowledge base, but a user forum would be a helpful addition.

The Details


  • Editions: Free Federal Edition, Classic, Premium, Military
  • Federal Price: $0 - $34.95
  • State Price: $0 - $23.90


Free Federal Edition

  • Federal Fee: $0
  • State Fee: $23.90


  • Federal Fee: $12.95
  • State Fee: $12.95


  • Federal Fee: $34.95
  • State Fee: $12.95


  • Federal Fee: $0
  • State Fee: $0

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