TaxAct offers a user-friendly interface with instructional videos at the start of each section and help navigating the tax impact of major life events. The wealth of features available with the free software, combined with low prices for e-filing and upgrades, make this company a category leader. You can also buy a CD-ROM version or download the software and file up to five federal returns, although that's more expensive than using an online edition.
TaxAct is less well known than big names such as TurboTax and H&R Block but is rapidly gaining popularity as a more affordable option for filers with simple returns, both online and off. A TaxAct review by TopTenReviews places this software program second in a comparative ranking of online tax software for the 2012 tax year, citing its accuracy and straightforward interview process. An in-depth look at TaxAct on Reviews.com awards points for low pricing, robust educational resources, and the ability to import returns from last year. Still, the expert behind this TaxAct review would have liked to see a more functional interface for determining the tax impact of various life events and more resources devoted to finding deductions.
TaxAct stands out for offering both online and download/CD versions of its free software, with free federal e-filing and a $14.95 fee for state returns. It provides information aplenty for taxpayers, including informational videos at the beginning of each section. If you get stuck, you can search the TaxAct help center by keyword to get more information. There's also an index of basic tax information to peruse if you get confused or have an unusual tax question. Phone support is available for an extra $7.95 and included if you upgrade to the deluxe version ($9.95 online and $12.95 for a download or CD).
The software's streamlined format minimizes data entry time by pre-filling information you've entered in previous sections and transferring data from your federal return to your state return. While experts laud the level of functionality for the price, TaxAct reviews from consumers are somewhat mixed, even among users who say they've had great experiences in the past. Negative comments regard refunds not showing up on time and software glitches that make filing a headache. A consumer who posted a TaxAct review on Epinions found it challenging to file complex returns with only the search function on the side to turn to for help, as opposed to the pop-up FAQs found in other software. Although big-name software may slightly easier to use, the reviewer concludes the savings make TaxAct worthwhile. This is also one of the only providers that offers a worksheet to help you complete the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA.
A common complaint in TaxAct reviews is that the software may be less useful if you own a home or need to report investment income. Provided you don't have a complicated tax situation or need a lot of hand holding, however, this is a reasonably priced tax prep program with a generally good track record.