If you’re thinking of doing your taxes online or with software this year, ignore the hype over TurboTax and check out TaxACT Online instead. Their basic service is free and extremely user-friendly. At $7.95 their deluxe service is still cheaper than TurboTax and much, much simpler to use. I discovered TaxAct through the IRS website several years ago. Even though I’d heard many people raving about it, I had not been pleased with TurboTax and even less so when I found out I would have to spend another $30 to use it again (when I hadn’t liked it the first time). Sure, I could claim that $30 on my taxes, but not until the next year – and it isn’t as though I would get it all back, either. I needed another solution and the IRS helpfully provided a service to set people up with free online e-filing services*.
I have used TaxAct every year since. They have everything I need and few things that I don’t. The questions they ask are comprehensive without being overly complex or confusing. Occasionally, I will get confused and wonder “Does that apply to me?”, but in 99% of those cases, if I leave it blank and just continue on, there will be another question that leaves no doubt that this is where those numbers go instead of the previous question.
I have used both the free and deluxe packages offered by TaxAct Online. I have been very happy with both. The free version did not leave me feeling cheated, but the deluxe includes enough extras for me to feel I got my money’s worth. They save my basic information from the previous year, provide a detailed analysis between the previous year and this (in case I forgot to deduct something), have informative help pages for most terms and questions – and I can stop and save at any point and go back to finish later.
The only drawback I have found to TaxAct comes when reviewing the answers. It’s not always easy to find the question I want to review and in many cases Ihave to go through several questions to get where I want to go. For me, however, this is only a minor inconvenience – given the time, effort and headache their software saves me every year. Most years I find myself amazed at how quickly I’ve finished!
If you are looking for a filing service that is easy to use, does the hard thinking for you, alerts you to possible errors, helps you find lots of ways to get a bigger refund (or pay a smaller tax!), and costs little or nothing, TaxAct Online may just be for you.
*Not sure if they still do this, as it was an alternative if one doesn’t qualify for “FreeFile”, but since services are not active for the year, I can go no further to verify.