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TaxSlayer Review 2020

Feb. 10, 2020
Income Taxes, Personal Taxes, Taxes
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

One of our favorite things about TaxSlayer is its unique pricing model: TaxSlayer charges according to the level of support offered, rather than according to a software package’s capabilities. In other words, the company’s cheapest paid package handles tax situations and forms that its most expensive package does; what changes is how much help you can get.

So if you’re a confident tax filer and don’t need a lot of help, you could save a lot of money with TaxSlayer. It’s one of the best deals on the market.


 

SIMPLY FREE

 

CLASSIC

 

PREMIUM

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • Prices are based on level of support rather than level of functionality.
  • A bargain compared with bigger-name competitors.
  • Less robust support options than some competitors offer.
Start your return on TaxSlayer's website
 

↓ Compare TaxSlayer with other software

 

SIMPLY FREE

 

CLASSIC

 

PREMIUM

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • Prices are based on level of support rather than level of functionality.
  • A bargain compared with bigger-name competitors.
  • Less robust support options than some competitors offer.
Start your return on TaxSlayer's website
 

↓ Compare TaxSlayer with other software

 

SIMPLY FREE

 

CLASSIC

 

PREMIUM

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • Prices are based on level of support rather than level of functionality.
  • A bargain compared with bigger-name competitors.
  • Less robust support options than some competitors offer.
Start your return on TaxSlayer's website
 
 

↓ Compare TaxSlayer with other software


TaxSlayer’s prices

Price is a huge advantage for TaxSlayer. People who need advanced tax software, which can run $100 or more elsewhere, can especially benefit from the price difference, particularly when adding a state return.

You also might prefer TaxSlayer if you hate that bait-and-switch feeling people often experience when they choose a tax software package, get halfway through the return and find out they have to pay more to upgrade because they need to fill out certain tax forms. TaxSlayer’s paid packages all handle the same forms — what determines the price is the level of support you want. Accordingly, if you’re a confident tax filer and don’t really need a lot of help, you could find big savings.

TaxSlayer offers a free version that lets you file a simple Form 1040, but not schedules 1, 2 or 3, which are important in the process of reporting things such as business income, alimony, deductible student loan interest, certain retirement contributions, alternative minimum tax, the credit for dependent care expenses, the Lifetime Learning Credit or the Saver’s Credit. And TaxSlayer imposes added requirements to file for free: Your taxable income must be under $100,000, you have to file as single or joint married, and you cannot claim dependents.

Available packages and list prices

SIMPLY FREE

• Federal: $0
• State: $0

This option allows you to file a 1040 and a state return for free, but only if your taxable income is under $100,000, you don’t claim dependents, you don’t itemize, you don’t have investments, rental income or a business, and you don’t take the earned income tax credit.
CLASSIC

• Federal: $17
• State: $39

This package works for virtually everybody: itemizers, landlords, freelancers and so on, because TaxSlayer’s paid packages vary by support offered rather than by tax situation. It imports W-2s to get you going.
PREMIUM

• Federal: $37
• State: $39

This package has all the features of the Classic version, but with better support: audit assistance, unlimited access to tax professionals and priority tech support.
SELF-EMPLOYED

• Federal: $47
• State: $39

The company’s other packages can also file returns for self-employed people, but this version comes with access to a self-employment tax pro and more guidance about things such as estimated tax payments and 1099s.

One note about prices: Providers frequently change them. We’ll keep updating this review, but you can verify the latest price by clicking through to TaxSlayer’s site. TaxSlayer doesn’t offer desktop software, so if you don’t want your return to reside in the cloud, you should consider another provider.


TaxSlayer’s ease of use

What it looks like

TaxSlayer’s interface is as handsome as other, more expensive versions on the market. You can skip around if you need to (or even create your own list of specific tax forms you want to fill out), and a banner along the side keeps track of where you are in the process.

Handy features

Here’s one area where you may see some differences between TaxSlayer and other tax software providers. TaxSlayer’s paid packages don’t have the ability to import photos of W-2s (though you can import the document online or upload a PDF), and there’s no tool to help you calculate the deduction value of items you donate to charity. TaxSlayer doesn’t import 1099s, either.

Also, there may not be as many full-blown on-screen concept explanations as some other competitors provide, which may give less-confident users a “just enter the number” kind of feeling. Although the on-screen help button does a good job of laying out all the available support options, some users may have to wander around a bit to find answers.

The self-employed parts were revamped this year to give users more of a bird’s-eye view of all their business activities, which can help them see if they’ve forgotten to deduct any expenses, and it helps find industry-specific tax breaks.

Where you can use it

Because the software is online, you can log in from other devices if you’re working on your return here and there. The provider also has a mobile app.


TaxSlayer’s support options

Here’s a look at the various ways you can find answers and get guidance when filing your return with TaxSlayer.

Ways to get help

  • General guidance: Searchable knowledge base and videos.
  • Tech support: Free tech support by phone or email; also chat for Premium and Self-Employed packages.
  • One-on-one tax help: Access to on-demand tax help from tax professionals for Premium and Self-Employed packages.
  • Notable: Pricing varies by support level, not functionality.

Like other providers, TaxSlayer offers an online knowledge base users can search for answers about specific tax issues. Live chat also is available for Premium and Self-Employed customers, although that’s only for tech support.

Though phone and email tech support are free, the more valuable kind of help — tax help — is free only for Premium and Self-Employed users. That service is called Ask a Tax Pro, and users submit their questions through their TaxSlayer accounts. The tax pro contacts them within one business day via phone or email. Self-Employed package users get access to tax pros who specialize in self-employment. It’s not as face-to-face as other providers offer.

Also, it’s not clear whether the tax pro you get will be a CPA. TaxSlayer says its tax pros “are highly qualified individuals with extensive knowledge in both the American tax code and TaxSlayer’s software. All of our tax pros are IRS-certified with advanced experience in tax law, return preparation, and the tax industry.”

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. First, be sure you know the difference between “support” and “defense.” 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.

TaxSlayer’s Premium and Self-Employed packages come with free audit assistance (users of other versions can buy it for $29), which helps you prepare for an audit but won’t represent you in front of the IRS. The coverage applies for three years from the date you buy the software. Users can also buy SecurelyID, an identity protection package. It comes bundled with an Audit Defense product for $44.

If you’re getting a refund

No matter how you file, you can choose to receive a refund via direct deposit to one or more bank accounts (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.

TaxSlayer can load your refund onto a Green Dot Bank prepaid debit card if you like. And if you’re using a paid package, you have the option of paying for the software out of your refund — but there’s a $35 fee to do that.

How does TaxSlayer compare?

TurboTax



Read full review



Read full review



Read full review

Pricing

On the higher end




Ease of use

Q&A user flow is one of the best




Support options

Live video help from a tax pro, online FAQs


 

Pricing

On the higher end




Ease of use

Clear and helpful interface




Support options

Live video help from a tax pro, online FAQs, 11,000 locations


 

Pricing

Good value pick




Ease of use

Simpler, less focus on design




Support options

Screen sharing, online FAQs, phone and chat


 
Compare more software

The bottom line

TaxSlayer may not have the name recognition of big brands like TurboTax and H&R Block, and meaningful support is comparatively thin unless you’re willing to pay extra. But TaxSlayer offers attractive and usable software at great price points.

Start your return on TaxSlayer's website

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