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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
$0 - $32.95
$0 - $20.90
Free Federal Edition, Classic, Premium, Military
Audit Risk Identification - The software indicates your audit risk and recommends solutions to minimize the risk.
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.
Prior Year Comparison - The software automatically compares the current tax return with the previous year's return and highlights any differences.
Real-Time Balance Meter - The software provides a real-time meter displaying the balance of your refund or the amount you owe.
Tax Calculator - The software has a tool that allows you to estimate your tax refund or the amount you will owe.
Accuracy Guarantee - The software company guarantees your taxes are accurate.
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.
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.
Life Events Advisor - The software has functionality that helps you identify major life events and understand how these events impact your taxes.
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.
Step-by-Step Guidance - The software provides interfaces that guide you step-by-step through the tax preparation and submission processes.
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.
Industry-Specific Tax Deductions - The software provides a walk-through of industry-specific deductions.
Rental Property Tool - A tool exists to help you identify and process deductions associated with rental properties.
Amended Tax Returns - You can access, prepare, and/or print paper copies of amended tax returns.
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.
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.
Import 1098 Forms - You can import 1098 forms.
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.
Alternative Preparer Import - You can import forms prepared by other companies or software solutions.
Automatic Import - You can automatically import your tax forms from partner organizations.
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.
Video Tutorials - The company provides video tutorials.
Forum - The company provides an interactive forum where users can post questions and answers.
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.
Phone - You can contact the company by phone to get support.
Social Media - You can contact the company with questions through social media websites.
Live Chat - The company offers live chat support.
Retail Locations - You can get in-person support at local retail locations.
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.
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