TaxSlayer is one of the best deals on the market. Its features, interface and support options are comparable to those offered by providers charging twice the price. All users get free email and phone tech support, and Premium and Self-Employed users can submit questions to tax pros, get priority tech support and gain access to free live chat.
- A bargain compared with bigger-name competitors
- Clean user interface and interview-style Q&A
- Free version is free only if filing a Form 1040EZ
This is a huge plus for TaxSlayer. Its packages are less expensive than the other competitors. People who need advanced tax software, which can run $100 or more elsewhere, can especially benefit from the price difference, particularly when you factor in what other providers charge to prepare a state return.
People with simple tax situations might be drawn to TaxSlayer’s free option, but beware — it’s only for people eligible to file a Form 1040EZ.
Another nice price perk is that active-duty military members get a 50% discount on the Classic and Premium editions. The company also has a loyalty program in which users earn points for e-filing their returns and referring friends and family. The points can be redeemed for retailer gift cards.
Available packages and list prices
This option allows you to file a 1040EZ and your state return for free. It comes with unlimited email and phone tech support, but if you want tax support you’ll need to upgrade.
The free version is for 1040EZ filers; this is the package for everybody else: itemizers, landlords, freelancers and so on. It imports W-2s and will pull in last year’s return to get you going. All versions come with unlimited email and phone tech support, but if you want tax support, you’ll need to upgrade.
This package has all the features of the Classic version, plus better support: audit assistance, access to tax professionals, priority tech support and live chat (that’s just for tech support, too, though).
It’s new this year, but the only real difference between this package and the Premium version is that this one includes a free state return. Bottom line: if you want to buy the Premium package and have a state return to file, this package gets you what you need and is $2 cheaper than buying Premium and adding the state.
One note about prices: Providers frequently change theirs, and we’ve found at least one serving up small variations to users in different locations. We’ll keep updating this review, but you can verify the latest price by clicking through to the provider’s site.
TaxSlayer 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 — you should consider another provider.
TaxSlayer’s features and ease of use
TaxSlayer’s interface is as handsome as other more expensive versions on the market, and (again) it comes at a fraction of the price. The provider also has a mobile app that allows customers to take pictures of their W-2s instead of keying in tons of numbers. A banner along the side keeps track of where you are in the process, and the software displays your refund or amount owed.
Because the software is online, you can log in from other devices if you’re working on your return here and there.
Support options with TaxSlayer
Ways to get help
- Searchable knowledge base
- Free tech support by phone, chat or email
- Access to tax professionals (if you paid for it)
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. (Classic users can upgrade for an extra $22, but it might be cheaper to just buy the Premium version, which has it included, if that’s what you’re after.) Users submit their questions to Enrolled Agents or trained tax preparers; the company says responses come within 24 to 48 hours.
Live chat also is available for Premium and Self-Employed customers, though only for tech support. Hours are typically Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5. These may be longer during some parts of tax season.
If you’re audited
If you’re afraid of getting audited, when choosing tax software you should know what kind of support you’re getting. First, there’s a difference between “support” and “defense.” With most providers, audit support (or “assistance”) typically means guidance about what to expect and how to prepare — and that’s it. Audit defense, on the other hand, gets you full representation before the IRS from a tax professional.
TaxSlayer Premium and Self-Employed come with free audit assistance (users of other versions can buy it for $29.99), which helps you prepare for an audit but won’t represent you in front of the IRS. And note that freelancers or anybody else filing a Schedule C won’t qualify for audit assistance. State returns also aren’t covered. The coverage applies for three years from the date you buy the software. There is no audit defense available.
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 an American Express Serve 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 $25 charge to do that.
How does TaxSlayer compare?
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|TaxSlayer is one of the best deals on the market. Its features, interface and support options are comparable to those offered by providers charging twice the price.||TaxAct’s no-nonsense design will be a turnoff for some, but the cost is lower than many competitors and there’s phone and chat support.||TurboTax stands out for how easy it is to use and its intuitive design and flow. It’s pricier than most, but many people will find it worth a few extra dollars.|
The bottom line
TaxSlayer may not be as well known as big brands like TurboTax and H&R Block, but even though meaningful support is relatively thin unless you’re willing to pay extra, overall the provider offers a great price point and attractive software.