TaxSlayer doesn’t blow competitors like TurboTax and H&R Block out of the water, but it surely’s superior in a number of essential methods. Most notably, it’s cheaper than many better-known alternate options. If price is a vital consideration in your selection of a web-based tax prep program, that’s an enormous promoting level.TaxSlayer used to have a formidable free model that routinely made our checklist of the highest free on-line tax preparation companies. Sadly, that modified within the 2015 tax 12 months, when TaxSlayer slimmed down the free plan, lowering its skill to deal with complicated tax conditions. Today, it’s solely appropriate for filers who can full their federal returns utilizing IRS Kind 1040-EZ.No matter your chosen plan, TaxSlayer is sort of versatile. It permits you to full the required kinds and schedules with minimal steerage – or, when you choose, with the assistance of a “wizard” that emulates extra hands-on applications reminiscent of H&R Block and TurboTax. For those who need assistance with some elements of your return, however not others, you should use the wizard just for these trickier sections.Importantly, TaxSlayer one-ups many rivals’ accuracy ensures, which frequently apply solely to federal returns: For those who’re hit with a federal or state penalty or curiosity cost attributable to a TaxSlayer software program calculation error, TaxSlayer refunds it with out restrict.That stated, there are some devils in TaxSlayer’s particulars. It’s not ultimate for filers who just like the safety of a strong customer support equipment or the power to modify to in-person preparation in the event that they get hopelessly caught. And, when you’re involved about safety points, TaxSlayer has some uncommon quirks that might provide you with pause. Regardless, this program is value a more in-depth look earlier than you pull the set off on a better-known possibility.Pricing, Plans & FeaturesTaxSlayer provides 5 predominant tax preparation plans: Merely Free, Basic, Premium, Self-Employed, and Final. It additionally supplies a separate, totally-free Navy bundle for active-duty filers, who should obtain a W-2 from an EIN (employment identification quantity) associated to the navy or Division of Protection to qualify. The Navy model is a no-cost model of the Basic bundle, with the first distinction being that it contains limitless state returns free of charge.As a brand new filer, you’ll select your bundle while you start the submitting course of. For those who try to do one thing that isn’t supported by your present plan, you’re prompted to improve. Remaining pricing is ready while you e-file and is topic to alter with out discover, so your preliminary quote may rise by the point you full your return; plan accordingly.For all packages, TaxSlayer’s system provides you a selection between a guided, interview-style wizard that walks you thru the preparation course of step-by-step, and a self-guided platform that permits you to select what kinds and sections to finish and when. You possibly can navigate backwards and forwards between the wizard and the self-guided system at will, which is helpful when you’re assured sufficient to fill out some sections by yourself however really feel you want help with others.1. Merely FreeThis plan supplies your federal return and your first state return free of charge. Every subsequent state return, if essential, prices $29.Earlier than the 2015 tax 12 months, Merely Free (and its predecessor, Free Primary) was appropriate for tax conditions of nearly any complexity, together with instances involving itemized deductions, capital positive factors or losses from property gross sales, and small enterprise points. Nonetheless, it’s now solely acceptable for Kind 1040-EZ filers – usually, individuals who earn the overwhelming majority of their earnings from common employment. It’s not acceptable for freelancers, small enterprise house owners, solopreneurs, or those that earn international earnings.Furthermore, Merely Free lacks most of the assist options and helpful capabilities of higher-priced plans, so it might not be ultimate for tax-filing novices or those that want to full their returns as rapidly and easily as doable.Prior-Yr PDF Importing. This plan permits you to import prior-year tax returns from different tax prep applications, so long as they’re saved in PDF format. You possibly can’t straight import prior-year info from one other program, together with TaxSlayer, with the Merely Free model, although you may preserve your earlier TaxSlayer return as a PDF.Deduction Finder. This plan has a helpful deduction information (Deduction Finder) that follows alongside along with your return and prompts you to enter all relevant deductions – a pleasant method to make sure you don’t miss any alternatives to avoid wasting.Free Cellphone and Electronic mail Assist. TaxSlayer supplies complimentary cellphone and electronic mail assist to all prospects throughout tax season. Electronic mail assist is certainly the popular contact methodology – TaxSlayer has grown more and more protecting of its restricted cellphone assist assets lately. Anticipate a cellphone response throughout weekday enterprise hours, with prolonged hours topic to alter as tax season wears on. Emailed inquiries can take as much as 48 to 72 hours to supply a response.2. ClassicThis plan prices $17 to your federal return and $29 for every state return. It contains assist for all main IRS kinds, that means it’s acceptable for tax conditions of all complexities – together with buyers, rental property house owners, and small enterprise house owners. Basic additionally contains some options and capabilities that aren’t accessible with the Free bundle, making it ultimate for filers seeking a quick, clean tax preparation possibility.Basic comes with all of the options of the Free plan, plus:Prior Yr Importing and Comparisons. For those who filed final 12 months’s return with TaxSlayer, you may import information from it. As you fill out your return, this system reveals you related entries, reminiscent of earnings, deductions, and credit, from the earlier 12 months, permitting you to evaluate the accuracy of your current-year entries.W-2 Importing. You possibly can import digital W-2s in PDF format with this plan.Most Refund Assure. This plan comes with a most refund assure. For those who discover that one other tax prep firm provides you an even bigger refund (or smaller tax obligation) than TaxSlayer for an similar return, TaxSlayer agrees to refund your whole tax prep charges. You don’t need to file with the opposite firm to get the refund – you simply must present the refund or obligation quantity it provides.Refund Advance Loans. TaxSlayer’s refund advance mortgage is on the market to Basic and Premium filers. You possibly can stand up to $1,000 as little as 48 hours after the IRS accepts your return, topic to limitations based mostly on the scale of your anticipated refund. TaxSlayer provides this service at no cost, and the principal doesn’t accrue curiosity.three. PremiumThis plan prices $37 to your federal return and $29 for every state return. Its assist options are considerably extra sturdy than lower-priced plans, so it’s positively a stable selection for novice filers or those that lack the boldness or data to navigate a sophisticated state of affairs on their very own.Premium contains all of the options of lower-priced plans, plus these:Stay Chat Assist. Premium prospects have entry to an on-site reside chat characteristic that’s operational on the peak of tax season (early January by way of mid-April). You possibly can entry reside chat throughout TaxSlayer’s posted cellphone assist hours: 9am to 9pm Monday by way of Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday, and 12pm to 5pm Sunday (all instances Japanese). These hours are topic to alter as tax season advances.Precedence Cellphone and Electronic mail Assist. Premium prospects additionally get precedence assist for emailed and called-in queries. All communication from Premium prospects will get pushed to the entrance of the road, forward of communication from Free and Basic prospects. This considerably reduces maintain and wait instances, although TaxSlayer doesn’t say by precisely how a lot.Ask a Tax Skilled. You possibly can ask limitless questions of TaxSlayer’s in-house tax professionals over cellphone or electronic mail. Since some questions might require analysis, cellphone responses might not be instantaneous (when you name in and ask your query, it will possibly take one enterprise day for a TaxSlayer worker to get again to you). Ask a Tax Skilled is helpful when you encounter a problem that may’t be resolved by TaxSlayer’s wizards or onsite assist capabilities. Nonetheless, TaxSlayer stresses that each one info supplied by its tax professionals is common in nature and shouldn’t be construed as tax recommendation.Federal Audit Help for Free. TaxSlayer’s federal audit help bundle, which is claims is value $29, is on the market to Premium prospects at no further cost for 3 years out of your submitting date. Take note, it doesn’t embody assist for audits or different points regarding Schedule C or Ok filings.four. Self-EmployedThis plan prices $47 to your federal return and $29 for every state return. Its assist options are much more spectacular than the Premium plan’s, with further assist and hand-holding for self-employed filers and solopreneurs.Self-Employed contains every part within the Premium plan, plus:Entry to Self-employment Tax Professionals. TaxSlayer’s cohort of self-employment tax professionals are distinct from its mainline tax assist group. In case you have a query associated to your Schedule C submitting, or any uncertainty concerning the enterprise tax deductions for which you may be eligible, you’ll discover assist right here.Self-employment Tax Suggestions and Reminders. This plan’s interface contains reminders and ideas for self-employed filers; there’s no must go looking for solutions within the assist database.5. UltimateThis plan prices $59 to your federal return and $29 for every state return. It’s distinguished by front-of-the-line assist for all tax and technical points, plus full audit protection for 3 years out of your submitting date and identification theft safety.Final contains every part within the Self-Employed plan, plus:Full Audit Protection for Three Years. For those who’re audited by the IRS, you may depend on full protection (together with illustration) for 3 years from the date of your audited return. That is extra sturdy than TaxSlayer’s audit help bundle, which doesn’t supply complete protection.Id Theft Safety and Restoration. This identification theft safety and restoration plan is a $39 worth, in line with TaxSlayer.Entrance-of-the-line Assist for All Points. It doesn’t matter what your situation is, your queries are at all times kicked to the entrance of the road.Extra FeaturesTaxSlayer has another options and capabilities accessible to all filers, no matter plan degree:Pay Prep Charges With Your RefundTaxSlayer permits all prospects to deduct TaxSlayer’s prep charges, together with these for state returns, from their federal refunds. The one-time price is $25, topic to alter.Hyperlink to IRS Refund TrackerYou can entry the IRS’s Refund Standing system straight from TaxSlayer’s homepage, by clicking the “The place’s My Refund?” hyperlink within the backside navigation bar.Refund CalculatorTaxSlayer has a reasonably elaborate on-site tax refund calculator that permits you to enter a lot of the data you’d embody in your return – submitting standing, private earnings, revenue or loss from a enterprise, customary or itemized deductions, and credit – and obtain an estimate of your federal refund or the quantity you owe. You possibly can enter as a lot or as little as you want, however a whole accounting ensures a extra correct quantity.You don’t need to be a member to make use of this calculator, so it’s a pleasant approach to estimate your refund or tax obligation earlier than you start your return in earnest.Cell Apps and FunctionalityTaxSlayer provides Android and iPhone apps for obtain. These are functionally similar to the common web site and in addition embody value-added options, such because the on-site refund calculator. TaxSlayer’s common web site is already fairly mobile-friendly, so whereas the app is a pleasant choice to have, it’s not strictly essential.Data BaseTaxSlayer has a effectively maintained, searchable data base with a complete vary of assist subjects. There are additionally separate sections for points associated to the Inexpensive Care Act and up to date federal tax laws.TaxPerks Referral ProgramTaxSlayer has a refer-a-friend program (Inform-a-Buddy) that permits you to refer as much as 10 new customers by electronic mail after you file your return. Every referral earns TaxPerks factors that are redeemable for present playing cards. Program guidelines are topic to alter, so examine with TaxSlayer for actual phrases and particulars.Advantages1. Paid Plans Are Extra Inexpensive Than Comparable Choices at Some CompetitorsIn addition to a complete Free plan, TaxSlayer customers get pleasure from reasonably priced paid plans. The most costly possibility, Self-Employed, prices simply $47 for federal submitting and $29 per state. In contrast, H&R Block’s most costly plan prices as much as $104.99 for federal and $36.99 to $39.99 per state, relying while you file. TurboTax prices as much as $199.99 for federal and as much as $39.99 per state.2. No Charges or Curiosity on Refund Advance LoansAny TaxSlayer buyer anticipating a tax refund can apply for a refund advance mortgage with no upfront charges or ongoing curiosity prices. For those who’re entitled to a federal refund, this can be a large perk that may assist you by way of a short lived money crunch or present some essential respiratory room to get by way of your post-holiday spending hangover.three. Selection Between Guided Wizard and Self-PreparationTaxSlayer has a versatile interface that permits you to choose and select the way you full your return. In case you have a easy tax state of affairs or can deal with a extra complicated return by yourself, you should use TaxSlayer’s self-guided kinds and schedules which give minimal assist and steerage.For those who’re unsure whether or not a specific state of affairs applies to you – for instance, whether or not you must itemize deductions or declare the usual deduction – you may reap the benefits of TaxSlayer’s guided wizard, which asks interview-style questions and supplies explanations alongside the traces of hands-on tax prep applications like TurboTax and H&R Block. No matter your chosen plan degree, you may transfer backwards and forwards at will between the wizard and self-guided interface, and non-linearly between disparate sections of your return.four. Highly effective Refund CalculatorTaxSlayer’s refund calculator is sort of complete, nearly like a mini-return that you simply don’t need to pay for. If you wish to get a way of how large your refund or obligation will likely be earlier than finishing and paying to your return, this characteristic is good. TaxSlayer’s calculator additionally guides you step-by-step by way of every related merchandise, making it simpler to make use of than the much less user-friendly calculators issued by TurboTax and TaxAct.5. Robust Cell ResourcesTaxSlayer’s web site and prep program are among the many most mobile-friendly I’ve seen, rivaling TurboTax’s for ease of use and navigation. Its cellular apps are additionally fairly highly effective, with many of the options and capabilities of the common web site. In contrast, TaxAct’s web site and prep program aren’t as mobile-friendly.6. Accuracy Assure Contains Federal and State ReturnsTaxSlayer’s accuracy assure guarantees to reimburse filers for federal and state penalties and curiosity attributable to software program calculation errors. That’s a major benefit relative to some competing companies, which solely supply accuracy ensures on federal returns.Disadvantages1. No Most Refund Assure With the Free VersionMaximum refund ensures are industry-standard within the tax prep enterprise, and TaxSlayer isn’t any exception. Nonetheless, its most refund assure, which provides to refund your prep charges when you get an even bigger refund with the identical entered information at a competing tax prep service, doesn’t lengthen to its Free model. It is a fairly obtrusive omission. In contrast, TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct supply most refund ensures with all packages, together with free variations.2. No Audit Assist for Decrease-Priced Plans and Sure FilersYou must improve previous the Free plan to get free audit assist, which incorporates an over-the-phone session with an in-house tax skilled who can reply any questions on correspondence you obtain from the IRS or state income businesses. For full audit protection, you’ll must improve all the best way to the Final bundle, which prices $81 to your federal return and one state.three. No Refund BonusTaxSlayer doesn’t supply a refund bonus – you at all times obtain the precise worth of your federal refund, no extra. In contrast, H&R Block provides a refund bonus as much as 5% of the entire refund (relying on the bundle you utilize) while you conform to obtain no less than $100 of it as an Amazon present card.four. Buyer Assist Isn’t as Sturdy as Some Different ProgramsTaxSlayer does have free cellphone and electronic mail assist for everybody, however its buyer assist system has a number of disadvantages: restricted working hours, lack of a user-curated assist middle (reminiscent of TurboTax’s AnswerXchange), and a two-tiered, precedence assist system that pushes Free and Basic prospects to the again of the road when Premium prospects need assistance. Additionally, on-line reside chat is simply accessible to Premium prospects.In contrast, H&R Block’s cellphone, electronic mail, and reside chat assist – together with 24-hour assist in the course of the January-to-April tax season – is on the market to all prospects, no matter bundle. And, H&R Block has a community of greater than 10,000 bodily workplaces that provide in-person assist, one thing TaxSlayer can’t present.5. Web site Has Some Performance IssuesNo web site is ideal, however TaxSlayer’s has sufficient errors and performance points to influence the consumer expertise. Although the return preparation course of is mostly clean for me, I’ve encountered “web page not discovered” errors in TaxSlayer’s assist database earlier than. A pair years again, I used to be directed to a very egregious lacking web page from the location’s predominant navigation bar, although that exact situation seems to be fastened now. And I skilled a number of timeouts when navigating to TaxSlayer pages from search engine outcomes pages.I count on TaxSlayer to deal with these points as time goes on, however their mere existence suggests the trains aren’t all operating on time at TaxSlayer HQ. In contrast, I’ve had nothing however good experiences with H&R Block’s tax prep interface.Remaining WordFew individuals get pleasure from getting ready and submitting their taxes, however not everybody has the identical relationship with the IRS, state income authorities, and their tax preparer. In case your tax state of affairs is straightforward and simple, your highest priorities are more likely to be filling out your return as rapidly and cheaply as doable, and maximizing your refund. In case your state of affairs is extra sophisticated, avoiding an audit is more likely to be a serious concern.Although TaxSlayer isn’t good, it provides alternatives for taxpayers at each ends of the spectrum, typically at a decrease price than the competitors. For those who’ve been submitting with a better-known program like H&R Block or TurboTax previously, possibly it’s time to offer TaxSlayer a more in-depth look.