Pros / State returns only cost $29 to file.
Cons / The free version only works with form 1040.
Verdict / TaxSlayer has better pricing than most of the other programs we tested. The software is relatively easy to use but isn’t as good at spotting errors as others we tested.
TaxSlayer is a long-running online tax program that offers a free filing option. Like TurboTax and H&R Block, its free version is best for simple returns like a 1040EZ. Most returns will require you to use TaxSlayer Classic, which costs $17 for a federal return. TaxSlayer Premium allows you to consult with a professional as you fill out your return and costs $37. No matter which plan you use, you’ll pay $29 to file a state return. Members of the military can file state returns for only $15.
We tested TaxSlayer Classic, which worked best for the common return scenario we used in our review. The program is relatively easy to use, but it is lacking in a few areas. It’s very good at calling out errors and won’t let you proceed to the next step until the error is corrected. It highlights the field that needs to be corrected. Unlike other programs, there’s not a final review at the end. We like having that last check so we can spot any errors before filing our return.
If you need guidance, TaxSlayer has useful tools for helping you find deductions or credits you might be eligible for. When we tested it did seem buggy; it got stuck and we had to do a lot of scrolling to find what we were looking for. Before we filed there were several screens trying to sell us audit protection and estate planning services.
TaxSlayer allows you to import your W-2, which is useful for saving time and preventing errors arising from manually entering data. You can import a PDF of a previous year's return from another tax preparer. If you used TaxSlayer for a previous year's return, that information will be pulled into the current year's return.
Audit protection is available for $28.99. This add-on provides assistance if the IRS decides to audit your return. With this service TaxSlayer will work on your behalf and gather documents to resolve the audit. Audits only happen on one in a hundred returns, and usually only on complicated returns, so if you filed a simple return you probably don’t need to pay for audit protection.
Refunds can be distributed via check, direct deposit or prepaid card. Direct deposit is the quickest way to get your refund. Prepaid cards may have additional fees, so check to see what they are before you choose that option.
TaxSlayer has a limited free option, and its prices for federal and state returns are at the lower end. It makes filing your return relatively easy, but some of the software’s functionality is less useful than other programs.