TaxACT sets itself apart from other online and desktop tax software by offering quality income preparation tax software at an affordable price. TaxACT has been around since 1997 and has processed over 20 million tax returns since then. A preview version for the current tax software is available each October, and data entered in the preview rolls over to the final version, released each January.
My first impression of TaxACT is that it's very easy to navigate with an interface that's clearly defined and with easy access to the help resources and additional tax tools. Moving back or ahead in the return is easy to do.
I have one gripe with TaxACT: some tax topics aren't explained directly from the tax interview, instead the user is provided with a link to an IRS publication from the IRS web site. While this is an acceptable way of learning about a tax topic, those publications are wordy and often use terms or explanations not understandable to the average Joe taxpayer. It would be better if TaxACT had condensed explanations written up in the software in every-day English or it linked to its own Tax Tutor, but free tax and tech support via email, the Answer Center and low-cost phone support makes up for this issue.
TaxACT Free Edition is an excellent option for simple tax returns and is definitely a solution for more complicated returns as well. But, if you have multiple deductions or your return is otherwise not so simple, I recommend bumping up to the Deluxe version for additional features that will make preparing your return easier and faster for the bargain price of $9.95. The extra features in the Deluxe version aren't as well integrated in the software as found with pricier tax software, but if you want to spend less, all TaxACT versions are a great value. If you need to prepare a federal and state return, use TaxACT Ultimate Bundle which is priced under $20 (you can add state returns to the Free and Deluxe versions, noted below). Phone support for quick answers to both tax issues and tech support all year round is yet another value at a one-time charge of $7.95.
You can try TaxACT Online and no payment is required until you complete and file a return. Windows desktop software is also available. Online users lock in a 20% discount by registering before January 1, 2012. Prices quoted are subject to change throughout tax season, verify price before purchase.
What's New in TaxACT
- Bookmarks are used to mark a spot in your tax return so you can go back to that page later, usually after you've gathered information necessary to fill in data. There's a bookmark icon on each page as you go through TaxACT's tax interview. Click on it to set the bookmark or to see bookmarks you've set.
- TaxACT Answer Center has been improved with more robust search capabilities. I used it and was very satisfied with the answers presented. And, if you still need more information, use the links to email and phone support, which are located lower on the page.
- Nearly 300 additional income tax terms that are linked directly from the tax interview.
TaxACT Free Federal Edition
- Free e-mail and online help for tax questions and using the software.
- PDF import of last year's data from TurboTax, H&R Block At Home, TaxSlayer, CompleteTax, IRS Free File Fillable Forms and others. This version does not import last year's data from TaxACT.
- Accuracy and maximum refund guarantees.
- Audit assistant (online written information).
- Schedule C and other complex returns.
- Extra help for putting together tax information when applying for student aid (FAFSA).
- Video help.
- One Life Event (marriage, job change, loss due to disaster, etc.)
- Import tax data from last year's return prepared with TaxACT.
- Donation Assistant for accurately claiming tax deductions for non-cash charitable donations.
- Tax Tutor expert tax guidance from J.K. Lasser.
- Stock Import and GainsKeeper for capital gains.
- W-2 data import from some payroll providers.
- Unlimited life events.
- TaxACT TaxWatch customized plan to help lower next year's taxes owed.
- Tax calculators and joint vs. separate return analysis.
TaxACT Ultimate Bundle
TaxACT State Edition
Prices for adding a state to online editions are noted above. There is a $7.95 per state e-file fee for Windows desktop.
- Learn more and order TaxACT State Edition
TaxACT Business Editions
Cost: TaxACT Business is only available for Windows desktop, and retails for $39.95 - $54.95. Add $5.95 for shipping.