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Tax season is upon as, and many are in the market for a preparation software to file their own tax returns. You may have heard of TaxAct before, as you filed in past years. In 2017, though, they’ve made quite a few changes to improve their software, mobile app, and support… ultimately giving you a better tax filing experience.
Here’s an overview of what TaxAct has to offer in 2017:
What’s New for 2017?
In 2017, TaxAct launched a new addition to its tax filing products, called the BluPrint Financial Assessment. BluPrint Financial Assessment provides financial guidance and savings information all year-round. With this assessment, customers receive a complimentary analysis of their tax return off the bat. Then, throughout the year, they receive additional insight on ways to reduce their tax bill next year and save for the future.
TaxAct has also implemented some enhancements to its other existing features:
- Expanded W2 import options – TaxAct now has the ability to import W-2 forms straight from employers for over 75 million Americans. TaxAct online customers can also import PDF files of their W-2 forms.
- Redesigned mobile app – TaxAct Express, the mobile app, gives customers an easy way to complete simple tax returns from their mobile phones or tablets. On the app, customers can also take a picture of their W-2 forms and upload it directly into their returns.
- Personalized income interview – TaxAct has streamlined its online interview process to make it faster and easier for customers to file their tax returns.
- Unlimited support – All of TaxAct’s products now offer unlimited phone and email support no matter which edition you purchase.
- Prior year online return access – All TaxAct customers can now access their previously filed tax returns for the past seven years.
How Much Does TaxAct Cost?
The cost of TaxAct varies depending on the product level you choose as well as whether you choose to file online or via desktop download. Here are the current prices for TaxAct’s products:
|Online||$0 for federal and state filing; $10 for optional prior year import||$20; $30 state additional; prior year import included||$35; $30 state additional; prior year import included|
|Desktop Download||$0 for federal; $25 state additional; $5 for optional prior year import||$40 for federal and state filing; prior year import included||$55 for federal and state filing; prior year import included|
Keep in mind that the prices on TaxAct’s websites are constantly changing as new promotions are released. You may be able to find sales or coupons for TaxAct during tax season on sites like RetailMeNot or Groupon.
The Free edition is recommended for simple 1040EZ and 1040A filers. The Plus edition is recommended for itemizers, homeowners, and investors. The Premium edition is recommended for those who are self-employed, freelancers, or contractors. Fun fact: the Plus edition is TaxAct’s most popular product.
What Are the Features?
TaxAct touts itself as the system to beat the system. By claiming to make “unfair advantages” — such as clever tax breaks and shrewd deductions — accessible to all, TaxAct is branded to appeal to the everyday taxpayer.
All TaxAct tax filing products share a few common features:
- 100% accuracy and maximum refund guaranteed
- W-2 form import
- Unlimited tax and technical support by phone and email
- Low price lock, even if you decide to file later
- Personalized financial assessment
Beyond that, there are some features that are unique to only the Plus or Premium editions. For example, on both the Plus and Premium editions, you have access to the following advanced features:
- Saving optimization through hundreds of potential deductions and credits
- Reporting of stocks and other investment income
- Itemized deductions
- Reporting of rental property income
- Donation Assistant, which lets you import or enter charitable donations
Lastly, the Premium edition offers two features not currently available on the Free or Plus editions. These include reporting of business and farming income as well as maximization of business deductions and depreciation.
How’s the Support?
TaxAct offers support via phone and email. On its website, TaxAct states that emails will be responded to within three business days. Since that’s a long time to wait, most people will probably resort to phone support if they need to contact TaxAct. The downside here is that their phones aren’t staffed 24/7. The phone support hours are as follows:
- Monday – Friday: 7AM – 9PM CT
- Saturday: 8AM – 6PM CT
- Sunday: 10AM – 5PM CT
However, on the last day to file taxes this year (April 18, 2017), TaxAct’s phone support will be extended to 12AM CT.
TaxAct doesn’t offer live chat support. But they do have a comprehensive knowledge base of articles on everything from how to review your tax return to how to file an extension.
Unlike many of its competitors, TaxAct doesn’t offer an audit protection or audit defense add-on. Its audit assistance consists of a set of dedicated pages in its knowledge base.
Resource: What to Do If You Get Audited
What Are the Refund Options?
If you’re expecting a refund, you can receive it one of three ways:
- Direct deposit to a bank account
- Direct deposit to an American Express Serve Prepaid Debit Account
- Paper check
TaxAct also gives you the options to use your refund to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds in $50 increments or apply it to next year’s estimated taxes.
You can have your TaxAct product fee deducted from your refund as well.
TaxAct has made some new improvements to its products this year that make them worth considering for preparing your taxes. Namely, the expanded W-2 form import options and the prior-year online return access can save you time while preparing your return.
Where TaxAct falls short is on its support. The lack of live chat and the limited phone availability can negate any time savings offered by the new features.
Given that TaxAct has a totally free edition, it may definitely be worth looking into if you have a simple tax return.