TaxAct Review: Which Tax Filing Option Suits You Best?

Learn if TaxAct software can help you prepare your tax return.

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.

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 ProductCostBest If: 
Online OptionsFree$0You have a simple tax return.
Plus$29.95*You own a home, itemize deductions or have investment income.
Freelancer$44.95*You have self-employment income.
Premium$59.95*You want professional audit protection from TaxAct.
Downloadable Software OptionsBasic$15**You have a simple return and want to import your prior year’s data.
Plus$66.95***You own a home, itemize deductions or have investment income.
Freelancer$81.95***You have self-employment income.
* State tax returns are an additional $37.
** State tax returns are an additional $37 plus extra to e-file.
*** Comes with one free state return but state e-file is extra.

TaxAct Product Line

TaxAct offers a selection of tax preparation software options to fit your needs for your 2017 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:

  • Plus ($29.95): For filers who own a home, itemize deductions or report investment income
  • Freelancer ($44.95): Has all the features of the Plus version plus tools for independent contractors and other self-employed filers
  • Premium ($59.95): Includes all the features of the Freelancer version plus Audit Defense assistance in the event your federal or state tax return is audited.

Free, Plus and Freelancer users can add Audit Defense for $49.

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TaxAct’s downloadable products include:

  • Basic ($15): For users with simple returns who need to import last year’s simple return from TurboTax or H&R Block
  • Plus ($66.95): For users who own a home, itemize deductions or report investment income
  • Freelancer ($81.95): Includes all the features of the Plus version plus tools for independent contractors and other self-employed filers

TaxAct charges an additional $49 to add Audit Defense to any downloadable product.

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 2018 tax preparation products due to its user-friendly interface and comprehensive interview process. But it lost points for pricey state return e-filing and for requiring users to manually input some information directly into IRS forms.

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 Freelancer or Premium edition to get a deduction maximizer to help you get all the self-employment tax deductions you’re entitled to claim.

The Free version charges $15 to import the information from your prior’s year’s tax return if you used TaxAct. You must use one of the downloadable programs to import last year’s return from TurboTax or H&R Block.

TaxAct products include unlimited free technical support. All versions except the Free one also include tax specialist support via phone or email. During tax season, phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (CT)
  • Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (CT)
  • Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (CT)

Support is also available via email. TaxAct promises to respond to emails within 48 hours.

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Also See: 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 Pledge for e-filers. In the event you get a larger refund — or owe less money — using another tax product to file your tax return based on the same information, TaxAct will pay you up to $100,000 of the difference.

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. But because TaxAct’s customer service hours are limited, you might look elsewhere if 24/7 phone or chat support are important to you.

Also See: Free State Tax Filing Options

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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.