TaxAct Review: Which Tax Filing Option Suits You Best?

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Although you might not like doing your taxes, you must file a return to get your refund or avoid interest and penalties on money you owe. Filing taxes online streamlines the process so you save paper and get a faster refund.

Check Out: Free State Tax Filing Options

One option for tax-filing preparation is TaxAct, which has been helping people prepare their tax returns for the last 20 years. TaxAct offers both online tax preparation and downloadable tax software packages that walk you through preparing your taxes.

Here’s a quick look at the different TaxAct filing options available; read on for details on the options so you can better choose which option is right for you to maximize your tax refund:

TaxAct Filing Options
TaxAct Product Cost Best If:
Online Options Free $0 You have a simple tax return.
Deluxe $24.95* You own a home and/or itemize deductions or claim tax credits.
Premier $34.95* You have investments, own a rental property or sold a home.
Self Employed $64.95* You are a freelancer, contractor or small-business owner.
Downloadable Software Options Basic $19.95** You have a simple return and want to import your prior year’s data.
Deluxe $99.95*** You own a home, itemize deductions or claim tax credits.
Premier $109.95*** You have investments, rental property or foreign bank accounts.
Self Employed $119.95*** You are a freelancer, contractor or own a small business.
* State tax returns are an additional $44.95.
** State tax returns are an additional $50 each, e-file is not included.
*** Comes with one free state return but state e-file is not included.
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TaxAct Product Line

TaxAct offers a selection of tax preparation software options to fit your needs for your tax year 2020 tax return. TaxAct Free might be sufficient if you just need to get your simple return filed with no frills. Users with more complex situations can opt for TaxAct’s fee-based solutions, which include:

  • Deluxe ($24.95): Has all the features of the Free version plus homeowner deductions, itemized deductions, child- and dependent-related credits and health savings accounts
  • Premier ($34.95): Has all the features of the Deluxe version plus income from investments, rental property, sale of a home, royalties and foreign bank accounts
  • Self Employed ($64.95): Includes all the features of the Premier plus freelance, business and farm income, business deductions and tax-planning tools

Free, Deluxe, Premier and Self Employed users can upgrade to Xpert Help and get access to live support from tax pros. Here’s the total you’ll pay for your preferred online version with the Xpert Help add-on:

  • Free: $35.00
  • Deluxe: $74.95
  • Premier: $94.95
  • Self Employed: $139.95

TaxAct’s downloadable products include:

  • Basic ($19.95): For users with simple returns who need to import last year’s simple return from TurboTax or H&R Block
  • Deluxe ($99.95): Includes all the features of Basic plus extra functionality for users who own a home, itemize deductions or take tax credits
  • Premier ($109.95): Includes all the features of the Deluxe version plus tools for investment and rental property income and foreign bank accounts
  • Self Employed (119.95): Includes all the features of the Premier version and has additional capabilities for freelancers, contractors and small business owners
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Find Out: How to Save Money When Filing Taxes

Review of TaxAct Features: Pros and Cons

TaxAct earned four out of five stars in a PC Magazine review of tax year 2020 tax preparation products due to its support for online filing, user-friendly interface and final review process. But it lost points for pricey state return e-filing and for issues with help links and tools.

All TaxAct tax preparation products include access to your return for seven years. TaxAct’s fee-based products include additional useful features like the Donation Assistant to help you make the most of your charitable giving, and a tool for printing all the tax information you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Choose TaxAct’s Self Employed edition to get a Deduction Maximizer to help you get all the self-employment tax deductions you’re entitled to claim.

TaxAct downloadable products include unlimited tax support via email. TaxAct online products include unlimited free account and technical support by email, chat or phone. During tax season, phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (CT)
  • Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (CT)
  • Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (CT)

Support is also available via email.

Learn More: 9 Best Ways to Get Free Tax Help

TaxAct’s Guarantee

TaxAct’s consumer tax products come with a $100k Accuracy Guarantee and a Maximum Refund Guarantee for e-filers[x]. If a software error causes you to receive a smaller refund or pay more tax than you would using the same data with another tax product to file your tax return, TaxAct will pay you up to $100,000 of the difference.

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TaxAct will also pay up to $100,000 for your defense if you get audited because of errors in the software. This is a nice feature to have in the event the IRS comes after you, but you must file your claim within 60 days of e-filing your return or 30 days of the IRS imposing a penalty. So, if a year later you find out you should have claimed a larger refund, it’s too late to be reimbursed by TaxAct.

Who Should Use TaxAct

TaxAct might be the best tax software for taxpayers who want to file taxes online to avoid hefty tax-preparation fees but don’t want to go it alone for fear they’ll make a costly mistake. The downloadable versions appeal to those who prefer not to store personal information online but still want automated preparation and e-filing for their federal return. But because TaxAct’s customer service hours are limited, you might look elsewhere if 24/7 phone or chat support is important to you.

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Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.

Last updated: Feb. 8, 2021

About the Author

Michael Keenan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance, taxation, and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by Quicken, TurboTax and The Motley Fool.

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