✔ Nervous weekday DIYers
Jackson Hewitt’s brick-and-mortar locations provide a security blanket for anxious tax filers, but the software doesn’t have many of the handy features found in competitors’ products, and people who want audit support or tax help on evenings and weekends might want to look at other options.
- User-friendly, interview-style Q&A
- Unlimited email and live chat support
- Free version is free only if filing a 1040EZ
- Audit support is nonexistent for online filers
Jackson Hewitt’s software in most cases costs about the same as competing packages from bigger names like TurboTax and H&R Block. If you have a simple tax situation, Jackson Hewitt has a free version, but you still have to pay to file your state return. Also, the free version is available only to people who qualify to file the 1040EZ; folks who have to file a 1040A or a full 1040 will need one of the paid versions. All the versions will let you import last year’s return from competitors’ packages (TurboTax, TaxAct and H&R Block).
Available packages and list prices
This option allows you to file a 1040EZ for free, and comes with unlimited email and live chat support.
This is the package for newlyweds and light freelancers, according to the company. It can file a Schedule C-EZ (good if you’ve got just a few business expenses), but it can’t handle mortgage interest or dependents.
This version is for families, homeowners and investors. It can handle dependents, property tax, mortgage interest and investments, but most self-employed people need to get Premium.
Jackson Hewitt’s highest-end version for online filers has all the features of the Deluxe version and a bit more, which likely makes this the best package for the self-employed, freelancers or independent contractors. Users also get free phone support.
Providers frequently change their prices. We’ll keep updating this review, but you can verify the latest price by clicking through to Jackson Hewitt’s website.
Jackson Hewitt does not offer desktop software, so if you don’t want your return to reside in the cloud — that is, you’d rather it stay on your computer while you work on it — consider another provider.
Jackson Hewitt’s features and ease of use
Jackson Hewitt’s interface is logical and easy to use. It covers all the bases, such as importing last year’s returns — even from competitors — and a W-2 import function, but it doesn’t have 1099 import capabilities, a donation assistant or many planning tools or calculators. Because the software is online, you can log in from other devices if you’re working on your return here and there.
Help is available throughout the preparation process, though most competitors have more robust help within the software and more easily accessible knowledge bases. As with most software packages, a banner running across the top keeps track of where you are in the process. A window on the left keeps a tally of your federal and state refunds or amounts owed.
Support options with Jackson Hewitt
Ways to get help
- Searchable knowledge base
- Free support via online chat
- Free support by email
- Free phone support for Premium users
Jackson Hewitt has an online knowledge base that users can search for answers about specific tax issues. It’s middle-of-the-road compared with what competitors offer, but free unlimited live chat and email support may compensate for that. And then there are the 6,000 brick-and-mortar locations where you can get face-to-face help — that help isn’t free, however. Chat is available only during East Coast business hours Monday through Friday, which could annoy users doing their taxes on evenings and weekends.
If you’re audited
Getting audited is scary, so it’s important to know what kind of support you’re getting from your tax software. With most providers, audit “support,” or “assistance,” typically means guidance about what to expect and how to prepare — that’s it. Audit “defense,” on the other hand, gets you full representation before the IRS from a tax professional.
Jackson Hewitt, however, offers neither of these. That’s a significant departure from the competition, so if you’re worried about an audit, consider looking elsewhere.
No matter how you file, you can choose to receive your refund via direct deposit to a bank account — the fastest option — or in the form of a paper check. Other options include applying the refund to next year’s taxes or directing the IRS to buy U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund.
Jackson Hewitt can also put your refund on an American Express Serve prepaid debit card.
How does Jackson Hewitt compare?
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|Jackson Hewitt’s brick-and-mortar locations provide a security blanket for anxious filers, but people who want audit support or tax help on evenings and weekends might want to look at other options.|
The software itself is logical but lacks some of the handy features that competitors offer.
|TurboTax stands out for how easy it is to use and its intuitive design and flow.|
It’s pricier than most, but while confident filers may not need the bells and whistles and can find better value elsewhere, many people will find this experience to be worth a few extra dollars.
|H&R Block’s software is a solid contender in the crowded market for tax software, and its network of brick-and-mortar locations offers a warm, fuzzy security blanket.
The interface is straightforward and easy to use, and the free version is one of the best on the market.
The bottom line
Across the board, Jackson Hewitt’s offerings are priced similarly to higher-end offerings such as TurboTax and H&R Block. The software doesn’t have many of the handy features found in competitors at similar price points; the lack of audit support is especially noticeable. But the free live chat, email support and — for Premium users — phone support are nice to have, as is the in-person advice, which Jackson Hewitt also offers if things get completely bungled.
Tina Orem is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected].