Pros / It offers suggestions for potential deductions and flags possible issues with your return.
Cons / Audit support is only available with the Premium plan (unless you pay an extra fee), and it doesn't offer audit representation.
Verdict / While the interface isn't as user-friendly as some, this is good tax preparation software that still takes the time to make sure you understand the tax filing process.
TaxSlayer is online tax preparation and filing software that guides you through the process of paying your taxes. Filers using the 1040EZ form can file both their federal and state tax returns for free using this program. It offers several support options that make it a good choice for those who haven't filed their own taxes before, but it lacks some of the features that help after you’ve prepared your federal return, such as audit representation.
Ease of Use & Support
Overall, this tax preparation software is easy to use, but it's more manual than the top online tax software programs we reviewed. It guides you through the process and makes it easy to go back and correct errors. It flags information to double-check, and if you linger too long on a page, a pop-up appears asking if you need help. It locks you out of the program if you leave it idle for too long, and although this is a good security feature, it can be an annoyance if you occasionally have to search for a wayward receipt and have to sign back in.
One laudable feature of this online tax preparation software is that you can easily find out more about the forms by clicking the Learn More buttons or in the searchable support section. Customer support is readily accessible, and you can find email and phone contact information in the program.
TaxSlayer guarantees the calculations to be accurate as long as the information you input is correct. It offers audit support with the Premium plan and is available as an add-on to the other plans for a fee, but no audit representation is available. All the other programs we reviewed offer audit representation for a fee.
Tax Preparation Options
TaxSlayer is an online tax preparation platform. It doesn't offer a software download, though it has an app for your tablet or smartphone, which allows you to enter or edit your information on these devices. However, at the time of testing, it hadn't yet been updated for filing 2016 taxes. Unlike H&R Block, this tax service is online only and doesn't offer physical locations or the assistance of professional tax preparers.
As with most of the tax filing software we reviewed, you may need to pay a filing fee depending on the complexity of your return. If you're eligible for a tax refund, you can pay your filing fee from your anticipated refund for an additional fee instead of paying upfront when you file.
You can choose to receive your refund via check or direct deposit, and you can also receive your refund on a prepaid American Express card. If you have a myRA retirement savings account through the U.S. Department of the Treasury, you can opt to direct deposit your refund into it as well.
Time & Money Savers
TaxSlayer has some features that can save you time, such as the ability to import W-2s and returns from a previous year. It's helpful in that it asks questions about your tax situation and notes potential deductions as you input information. You can elect to pass over these suggestions if you already know where you stand.
The program also allows you to choose whether you follow its guide or enter information directly into forms, which can be a timesaver if you know what you're doing. The Affordable Care Act is still relatively new, and this program takes you through it in great detail, asking more questions than most programs do to ensure you qualify. Once you’ve completed your return, it can show you how your return compares to the national average.
One drawback to this online tax filing software is that it doesn't support tax returns from every state. Depending on where you live, you might not yet be able to file state taxes with TaxSlayer.
While it's not the easiest online tax software we reviewed, TaxSlayer is a competent program that creates an accurate tax return, and it offers free federal and state returns if you qualify for the 1040EZ form. It walks you through the filing process and explains tax issues in detail. However, it lacks audit representation and some state tax forms, and at the time of testing, its mobile app hadn't yet been updated for 2016 tax filings.
Contributing Reviewer: Karina Fabian