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 offers a free filing option, but if you have a complicated return, the cost and the program’s lack of useful tools like W-2 import make it a less appealing choice.

Jackson Hewitt offers a free filing option for basic returns with less than $100,000 in income. If you have dependents, retirement income or want the Earned Income Credit, you’ll have to pay $34.95. If you want to itemize deductions, have a high income or have rental property, you’ll pay $54.95 to file. State returns are included but cost $36.95 if you’re not eligible for the free version. FreeTaxUSA and Credit Karma offer free filing options.

We used the program and filed a sample return that included dependents and the Earned Income Credit. While using the program, our reviewers evaluated the program on how easy it is to complete a return. We found Jackson Hewitt to be lacking in some areas. It was difficult to navigate through the program, and it lacks a lot of the educational features that other programs have. We prefer programs that explain the various deductions and the calculations involved in the return.

The biggest flaw of Jackson Hewitt is its error flagging tool. Some programs spot errors immediately, but Jackson Hewitt saves all errors for a final review before you finish your return. The really frustrating part is the program doesn’t take you to the errors; you have to click through the forms and find them yourself.

Another drawback of Jackson Hewitt is that you cannot import your W-2 or your previous returns. These tools speed up the filing process and prevent errors from manually imputing data by hand.

Hewitt offers audit protection for $29.95. This includes assistance working with the IRS and gathering your documents. Keep in mind that audits are rare and usually only happen if you have a particularly complicated return.

One thing Jackson Hewitt offers that other programs don’t is an advance on your return. This isn’t a loan, so there are no fees or interest. If you qualify you’ll get an advance loaded on an American Express prepaid card. The card does have fees if you use it at out-of-network ATMs.

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Jackson Hewitt is a pricy program for all but the most basic returns. This tax software has some frustrating features and isn’t particularly helpful when it comes to spotting errors. You also can’t import your W-2 or your previous year’s return.

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