Even with the possibility of a refund dangling in front of us, most of us hate to do our taxes.
Online tax prep and filing services significantly ease the burden without paying personal-accountant-level dollars. But of the many available tax preparation companies, which is the best?
In this review, we’ll cover TaxAct, one of the lesser-known income-tax filing programs — but a frugal filing option you’ll want to check out.
Here’s what you need to know about TaxAct.
How Does TaxAct Work?
TaxAct offers DIY online tax software that helps you file your tax returns neatly, completely and accurately. Even if you’re a tax whiz, having a guide streamlines the process and could save you time and money. These services scan hundreds of credits and deductions to ensure you get the biggest refund (or lowest tax bill) possible.
Compared with the better-known e-filing products, like H&R Block and TurboTax, TaxAct is pretty scaled down — and thus, more affordable.
Rather than inundating you with options, tools and features, this program is all about getting down to business and getting your taxes done, as quickly and cheaply as possible.
TaxAct offers four pricing tiers based on your tax situation: free, Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed. Here’s everything you need to know about each (current as of February 2022 and subject to change).
If you’re a “simple filer,” you can take advantage of free preparation for federal and state returns with TaxAct’s basic product.
This tier covers W-2 income; tax breaks for dependent deductions, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and child tax credits, education expenses for current students, and retirement income.
Cost: Free to file a federal return, plus $39.95 per state tax return.
TaxAct Deluxe offers everything you get with the free version as well as coverage for itemized deductions, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, student loan interest, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and adoption credits.
Cost: Starts at $24.95, plus $44.95 per state return.
TaxAct Premier covers all the basics from the Deluxe version, plus options for investors, people earning royalties or K-1 income, rental property owners and foreign bank account holders.
Cost: $34.95, plus $44.95 per state return.
If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, you already know you’re going to be paying more in taxes, and have access to more complex deductions and credits — and that may mean you need more support to fill out your return accurately.
TaxAct Self Employed customers get everything at the Premier level, as well as the ability to calculate personalized business deductions, calculate depreciation and access year-round planning resources.
Cost: $64.95, plus $44.95 per state return.
All TaxAct customers get access to its suite of basic features, guarantees and goodies. Those include:
Tax Pro Assistance
Through Xpert Assist, all filers — even free filers! — get access to help from a live professional over the phone, in case you need a little more personalized guidance about your tax situation. Unlike most competitors, TaxAct charges no additional fee for this feature.
If you want a tax pro to take all the work off your hands, you can opt for Xpert Full Service. You’ll upload your documents online, the expert will fill out the paperwork, and you’ll review it together before they file it for you. Full Service costs are tiered just like the DIY versions:
- Basic: $99.95 including a state return.
- Deluxe: $169.95, plus $44.95 per state.
- Premier: $249.95, plus $44.95 per state.
- Self-Employed: $279.95, plus $44.95 per state.
No matter who did your taxes last year, TaxAct makes it easy to import your information— including data coming directly from H&R Block or TurboTax.
While TaxAct might be simpler than its more expensive cousins in most ways, it’s the only one of the three that offers a FAFSA guidance worksheet.
TaxAct is confident in its ability to meet your tax needs, and it backs up that confidence with its $100k Accuracy and Maximum Refund Guarantee.
If an error means you get a smaller refund or larger tax bill than you should have, the company will reimburse you for additional taxes and penalties owed due to its mistake up to $100,000, as well as refund your TaxAct fees.
This $100,000 guarantee extends to those who are audited after filing with TaxAct. You can submit “reasonable,” documented, audit-related expenses, and the company will reimburse you, again, up to $100,000.
Finally, if you’re not totally satisfied with your TaxAct product for any reason, you can discontinue using it before completing your return and paying the fee. You can’t get a refund after you’ve printed or e-filed your return.
Mobile App for Apple and Android
TaxAct offers mobile apps for Android and iOS, though they’re not as highly rated as the sleek versions from H&R Block and TurboTax.
Eligible filers can pay their TaxAct filing fees with a portion of their refunds to avoid an out-of-pocket cost.
You’ll pay an additional fee for this service: $17.99 if you’re receiving your refund payment by direct deposit or $9.99 if you’re receiving it on a PayPower card.
Protection Plus Audit Defense
For TaxAct Professional users (tax pros filing taxes for clients), TaxAct works with Protection Plus to provide audit assistance and tax debt relief services for clients, regardless of where you filed. This service isn’t available if you sign up to file your own taxes with TaxAct.
Price Lock Guarantee
Most years, TaxAct offers an option to auto-enroll your return before the tax season starts to lock in the lowest price of the season — because prices fluctuate throughout the season and tend to be highest closest to Tax Day.
You can also nab that low price by paying for the product early in the season, even if you’re not ready to file yet.
TaxAct pricing is somewhat simpler than competitors’, which means you’re less likely to be surprised — but you have less choice to customize. To prepare and file your tax returns through TaxAct, you’ll pay a fee for the filing program, plus additional fees for state filing.
Unlike H&R Block and TurboTax, you don’t have to pay to upgrade to live tax pro help. Expert help is included with every tier, and you can upgrade to Full Assist if you want a TaxAct pro to handle the entire return for you.
- Product fee: Free to $64.95, depending on tier.
- State filing fees: $39.95 or $44.95 per state return, depending on tier.
- Xpert Full Assist: $99.95 to $279.95, depending on tier.
TaxAct: Pros and Cons
What makes TaxAct stand out — in good and bad ways? Here are some of its benefits and drawbacks:
Remember, you can always file federal taxes for free, if you’re eligible, through the IRS Free File portal. This service is available to filers who earned $73,000 or less (for tax year 2021), and the page also links to free fillable tax forms for earners at all levels.
Still comparison shopping? We’ve reviewed these other popular online tax programs: TurboTax and H&R Block.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about TaxAct
We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about TaxAct.