TaxAct Review

TaxAct is one of the most affordable tax software options out there, and if there’s one thing we’re all looking to do around tax season, it’s to save money.

E-File State Return
$54.95
Deluxe Plan
$109.95
Mobile App Rating
3.95/5
SimpleScore
2.8 / 5.0
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SimpleScore TaxAct 2.8
Mobile App Rating 3
Deluxe Plan Price 3
State E-File Price 2
Self-Employed File Price 3
Support 3

While TurboTax and H&R Block may have taken silver and gold in my review of the best tax software, TaxAct came in a close third, offering an affordable solution to filing taxes – particularly if you’re self-employed. While it isn’t my top pick for filing your taxes, it’s still a strong option worth exploring. Let’s look into the strengths and shortcomings of TaxAct.

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In this article

    TaxAct Review

    What distinguishes TaxAct from the competition is its variety of filing options at an affordable price. In particular, TaxAct is designed for people like me: freelancers and self-employed contractors who need a variety of filing options, but can’t afford the top-tiered software from companies like TurboTax and H&R Block.

    In this regard, TaxAct shines. However, there are a few places it falls short. Namely, TaxAct lacks any sort of refund bonus or access to prior-year tax returns. Those two minor details go a long way in making tax software better.

    However, as I mentioned, TaxAct is designed to be an affordable option for anyone who would prefer saving money over a sleek interface, and it accomplishes its goal. If you’re looking for an affordable way to file more complex tax returns, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than TaxAct.

    Let’s dive into the different plans that TaxAct has to offer.

    TaxAct Free

    Other than TurboTax Absolute Zero, which only applies to 1040A and 1040EZ forms, TaxAct Free is one of the most affordable ways to file your taxes. The one drawback is that features like importing other documents are severely limited.

    Here’s what TaxAct Free has to offer:

    • Helpful software to quickly find answers.
    • TaxPayer, TaxAct’s email hotline. Unfortunately, this is much slower than a live chat and usually takes one business day to hear back.
    • Phone support available for a one-time fee of $7.99.

    TaxAct Free Price:

    • Federal: Free
    • State: Free

    TaxAct Basic

    Although TaxAct Free covers most of the bases, it does have limited support and functionality, and while this isn’t a necessity, it goes a long way in making your tax season go smoothly.

    TaxAct Basic offers everything from Free, plus:

    • Import options for previous year’s tax returns
    • Support via TaxAct Answer Center and TaxAct Support
    • TaxAct Life Events helps to maximize deductions
    • Improved scanning for errors or problem areas

    TaxAct Basic:

    • Federal: $9.99
    • State: $9.99

    TaxAct Plus

    TaxAct Plus doesn’t cover any more tax situations than the free version, but it does offer some helpful tools and conveniences for getting those taxes filed, specifically in maximizing deductibles and tax credit. This is TaxAct’s most popular tier of tax software.

    TaxAct Plus offers everything from the previous plans, plus:

    • Access to over 300 more tax deductions and credits.
    • Donations Assistant to track all of your donations for tax credit

    TaxAct Plus:

    • Federal: $14.99
    • State: $14.99

    TaxAct Premium

    This bundle opens up all of the available schedules, making it perfect for any contractors or freelancers like myself. At its price, it is by far the most affordable way to pay self employment taxes amongst its competition.

    TaxAct Premium offers everything from the previous plans, plus:

    • Schedule C and Schedule F support, necessary for self employment and more complicated tax situation
    • Streamlined depreciation tool
    • Capital gains income and losses reporting

    TaxAct Premium:

    • Federal: $19.99
    • State: $14.99

    What does TaxAct do right?

    • Extremely affordable compared to the competition.
    • Surprisingly comprehensive free tier.
    • DocVault app for keeping track of paperwork.
    • Price Guarantee to ensure customers get the lowest available prices.
    • Useful editing functions on importing.
    • Handy stock assistance tool.
    • Adequate alert system for problems.

    What does TaxAct do wrong?

    • Lacking in deduction detection.
    • Poor support system on free tier.
    • No direct access to prior-year returns.
    • No refund bonus offered.
    • Only supports imports from TurboTax and H&R Block (sorry, TaxSlayer users).

    If you’d like to see where TaxAct stacks up against the competition, check out my review of the best tax software and best free software.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best tax softwares of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for brands to have multiple SimpleScores. For example, when we apply our methodology to Chase’s stock trading product, it scores a 3.6 out of 5. On the other hand, when we compare Chase checking accounts, it scores a 4.4 out of 5. this is because we each criterion for every category is different to account for different industry standards and product offerings.

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Mobile app rating

    We took an average of Google Play Store and iOS Apple App Store ratings of each tax preparation company’s app and assigned aspect scores accordingly.

    Deluxe plan price

    Taxes are already not fun in the United States. What makes it worse is if you have to dish out hundreds of bucks to file your taxes. That’s why we award higher scores to brands with lower deluxe plan pricing.

    State return e-file price

    While most tax preparation softwares have free federal tax return filing, many more charge for each state e-file. While users can just print their state return and mail it in, that’s annoying. We award brands that charge less for state return e-filing.

    Self-employed price

    If you own a business or survive solely on freelancing, every dollar counts. That’s why we give out higher scores to brands that charge less for self-employed tax filing.

    Customer support

    Like we said, tax season is hard. That’s why we award brands with higher SimpleScores when they have multiple channels of support. When customers need help filing, it’s important to be able to reach out.