Pros / This service offers free representation in the event you're audited by the IRS.
Cons / The software automatically upgrades to a paid plan if you claim dependents or attach more than one W-2 form.
Verdict / Jackson Hewitt is fairly easy to use and provides clear instructions on completing and filing your taxes; however, its free edition covers fewer tax situations than any of the other online tax software we tested.
Jackson Hewitt's online tax software is easy to use and simple to navigate. It uses understandable, conversational language to help you prepare an accurate tax return without causing you a lot of stress. At the beginning of the filing process, it provides you with a helpful list of items you need to gather or complete first so you can complete your taxes quickly and easily.
Ease of Use & Support
Like all of the best tax software, Jackson Hewitt guarantees its calculations are correct, and assumes responsibility if any of the math completed by the software is inaccurate and results in fees or other penalties levied the IRS. This guarantee doesn't cover incorrect information provided by you, however.
Jackson Hewitt also provides free audit support and representation, which can provide some peace of mind in the event the IRS audits you. However, you want to be sure to save copies of your tax return, especially since Jackson Hewitt doesn't save your information in its system.
Jackson Hewitt's online software is fairly easy to use. It's easy to navigate between different parts of your return, and fixing mistakes is a simple as well. Support is readily available, with a live chat link at the top of the web page and searchable help topics available on the lower left of the screen. You may also reach out for support via telephone, though this is only available to customers using the Premium plan.
There were times that explanations provided by this online tax service were confusing and more difficult to understand than descriptions given by other products in our review, like TurboTax. This could be an issue if you're unfamiliar with tax forms and online tax software. However, if you feel comfortable preparing your own taxes, Jackson Hewitt is a good option, especially since you can deviate from the interview or wizard format and simply enter your information into an online version of your tax forms.
For the most part, our testers didn't run experience any problems with the three different scenarios we used to test Jackson Hewitt. This software gave us accurate numbers that matched with the other returns we prepared using other software. There was one exception, however, with our sample self-employed scenario where the filer had made estimated tax payments to the state over the course of the tax year. While the software asked for this information, it applied the amount as an itemized deduction instead of a payment. This affected the amount of state tax it said we owed, resulting in a higher amount of tax due than we received from any other program.
Another thing worth noting is that the pricing tiers with this service are different than with others services we reviewed. While Jackson Hewitt offers a free option for filing your taxes, very few tax situations are covered in this plan. If you need to add dependents, file more than one W-2, report student loan interest or various other common tax situations, the software automatically upgrades to the Basic plan. If you're a homeowner, you're bumped up to the Deluxe plan. The other services in our review cover more tax situations in their free editions and lower tiers.
Tax Preparation Options
You can either prepare your taxes on your own using Jackson Hewitt's online software or you can go to a local retail office and work with a tax preparer, who can file taxes for you. You cannot purchase software to download on your personal computer. A mobile app is available; however, at the time of this review, the Jackson Hewitt app has not been updated for the current tax year. Before you download or use the app, check to make sure it's up to date.
You can elect to have your tax refund – assuming you receive one – sent to you via direct deposit, paper check or on a prepaid card. You cannot pay your filing fees with your tax return, so be prepared to pay Jackson Hewitt's fees out of pocket.
If you need your tax refund quickly and can't wait for the IRS to send you the funds, Jackson Hewitt offers a tax return advance, which is a short-term loan that can cover up to $1,300 of your refund. However, there may be additional fees associated with this advance. Jackson Hewitt also offers certain promotions for filing with them, such as an extra $50 if you opt to receive your return on with an American Express Serve Card.
Time & Money Savers
You can import your previous tax return via PDF files or by connecting with some competitor software that you may have used the previous tax year. However, you cannot automatically import a W-2 form.
Jackson Hewitt is an easy-to-use online tax software solution with many options for receiving your refund. It also has retail offices with tax preparers on hand to help you file your taxes. However, it's more expensive than others on our lineup and supports fewer free tax situations. Also, our testers experienced some accuracy issues with the state return in our test scenario for a self-employed filer.
Contributing Reviewer: Jill Bowers