When ready to file your tax returns online, it’s important to do your research and find just which online tax software best fits your needs. While Turbo Tax and H&R Block are the most well know providers, there are dozens of others that offer to file your federal tax returns for free, and if you have a complicated tax situation, you might even find a cheaper rate with another tax software. TaxSlayer offers customers a free federal file and their most expensive federal software package, no matter what you need, is only $19.95. You won’t find a better price anywhere, so I decided to give them a test drive.
TaxSlayer Sign Up Process
Signing up for TaxSlayer is simple. The usual information is required, like name, address and password, in addition to my social security number. Along the way, I am provided helpful videos if I need them and they auto-fill the city and state, after you put the zip code in, so we’re already off to a great start! After completing your sign-up, you will be sent an email with your account details. Be sure to verify your email address by clicking the link contained within and once you’re finished, it’s time to begin your free federal tax return.
Filing Your Free Federal Return with TaxSlayer
While filing your free federal return with TaxSlayer, you are always asked if you would like a tutorial on the current section, or if you can navigate the page yourself. To start, the personal information you used to create your account must be confirmed again, along with a handful of common tax questions. Next, your filing status is chosen and once complete, you’re off to the income portion of the return.
When choosing to file your tax returns for free, there’s a good chance you have only a W-2 to enter. However if you have 1099′s or other tax statements, not to worry, the free edition of TaxSlayer can handle that too. I’ve entered a few 1099′s, no W-2′s and I’ve finished the income portion of the process in under 60 seconds. The second I finalized my income numbers, the amount of my refund updated in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Needless to say, when entering 1099MISC forms, it’s not pretty.
Next up are my deductions. Once again, TaxSlayer allows me to peruse this section on my own, or use their wizard to guide me through the process. Again, with my simplistic tax situation and limited deductions, I think I’ll take care of this on my own.
I’ve always been a standard deduction kind of guy but in addition to claiming that, I also spend a ton on student loan interest each year. Breezing through this section that rarely applies to the stay-at-home guy I am, I move on to the next section of filing my federal tax return online with TaxSlayer, which shows other forms I may need when e-filing.
My self employment tax is located in this section, as well as forms needed because I paid estimated taxes. This is the section where you’ll find additional information, as well as forms for things such as underpayment penalties, filing a tax extension, etc. For many, you can skip right through this and believe it or not, once you’re finished, it’s time to review, print and e-file!
Tax Slayer shows you your tax return, checks for errors and allows you to print your return by downloading a .pdf file. If you’re satisfied with all of the numbers and TaxSlayer has found no errors, it’s time to send your federal returns to the IRS. You’ll receive an email showing that the process has been completed and within 48 hours, you will learn if the government has accepted your return. Choosing direct deposit as your refund method should allow you to receive your refund in as little as 8 days, so be on the lookout.
The process of filing your free federal return takes around 20 minutes altogether, but that number is dependent on your tax situation. Generally, if you have a complicated tax situation, you’ll want to consider upgrading to something other than the free federal edition.
TaxSlayer Upgrade Options
- Classic Edition ($9.95) – A slight upgrade from the free package, the classic edition allows consumers to use a step by step deduction finder, pulls prior years returns and includes all major forms and schedules. Anyone who doesn’t have the cookie-cutter tax situation should consider this upgrade.
- Premium Edition ($19.95) – Anyone in need of live phone support will be happy to know this option provides just that. Also included in this package is everything the classic edition provides AND prior year comparisons and audit support, should it be needed.
- Military Edition (FREE) – All active military members can file their federal and state tax returns with Tax Slayer for free. This includes all forms, step by step deduction help and the life events wizard.
*If you also need to file your state returns, you can do so for $14.90 when filing with the free edition. However if you decide to upgrade to either the Classic or Premium packages, the state return cost is only $4.95.
When filing my taxes with TaxSlayer, I never ran into a problem and the entire process was extremely fast and painless. The amount TaxSlayer stated I owed the government seemed right in line with what I expected so I’m confident they can handle anyone’s taxes, without error. If you’re looking to file your federal tax return online this year, consider doing it for free at TaxSlayer.com.
Published or updated February 3, 2011.