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-known 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 $34.95. 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 – name, address and password, in addition to my Social Security Number. Along the way, they provide helpful videos, if needed, and the forms auto-fill with some information. For instance, they save time by adding the city and state automatically after I enter my zip code.
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. 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, you’ll enter your personal information, and then confirm your tax filing status. If you’re married, you’ll answer some questions about your spouse, as well.
Then, you can have Tax Slayer walk you through your income options, or you can go to just the forms you need with this interface:
As you can see, you can toggle between different options – deductions, payments and estimates, income, etc. quite easily. Plus, even the free version of TaxSlayer can handle 1099’s, multiple W-2’s, unemployment compensation, capital gains and losses, etc.
TaxSlayer is unique in this way. Even the free version supports not only form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ, but also Schedules A, B, D, C, EZ, E, EIC, and SE. The free version also includes Deduction Finder, and free email and live phone support. Those are pretty hefty features for a free tax filing software!
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
So what upgrades do you need when TaxSlayer’s Free version already includes so many features? You can check out the comparison chart here, but here’s an overview of what’s included in other versions:
- Classic Edition ($12.95) – The classic edition offers the ability to streamline tax filing by pulling your prior year’s info, and it will compare your prior year with this year.
- Premium Edition ($34.95) – This version allows you the above-listed features. But you also get tax audit assistance, priority support, and live chat support. You can also talk with a tax professional. So instead of just having access for technical questions on the software, as with the other editions, you can talk to an actual tax pro.
- Military Edition (FREE) – All active military members can file their federal and state tax returns with TaxSlayer for free. This includes all forms, step by step deduction help and the life events wizard.
You can also use any TaxSlayer version to file your state taxes. You can add a state return to the Basic edition for $23.95, and with the upgraded editions, you’ll pay $14.95 to file your state return. Overall, TaxSlayer is quite a bit more affordable than some of the other options on the market right now!
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.