Haven’t filed your taxes yet? There’s still time! We’ll tell you what the IRS says about filing after the April 15th deadline and find out if you can file for free using Jackson Hewitt. We review everything about this tax service below.
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Editor’s note: Pricing is up-to-date as of May 4, 2019.
April 15th has come and gone but it’s not too late to file your taxes. According to the IRS, if you’re expecting a refund, you won’t have to pay a penalty and if you owe, filing now can help you avoid a larger tax bill later. The first step is to choose a service to get it done quickly. We’ll help you decide if Jackson Hewitt is the right tax service for you.
Jackson Hewitt is probably more known for their 6,000+ physical branches around the country. They’re actually the second-largest in-person tax preparation company in the U.S. They’re a tax preparation company, much like H&R Block, that is now offering online tax services.
In this article, I’ll review Jackson Hewitt Online–which is their online tax prep software. From there, you can determine if it’s a better fit for you than some of the other major players in the niche.
Jackson Hewitt Online is an online tax preparation software that helps you file your taxes efficiently and accurately. In fact, Jackson Hewitt guarantees 100% accuracy of your return and the maximum possible refund. Unless you have an extremely complex tax situation, Jackson Hewitt Online should be able to help you file with ease.
We’ve found that Jackson Hewitt has overhauled their brand and online tax preparation offerings over the last several years, so if you tried them more than three years ago, you might want to give them another look as things may feel different (in a better way).
Guaranteed Maximum Refund
Jackson Hewitt Online will guarantee a maximum refund. This is common with most online tax preparation software. Basically, if you get a bigger refund from a competitor using the exact same tax return, Jackson Hewitt will refund you any tax preparation fees.
100% Accuracy Guarantee
According to their website, Jackson Hewitt will “dig deep to get you 100% Accuracy.” Even if you choose the free plan, you’re protected. The way this works is if you get any type of charge or penalty from the IRS due to an error on Jackson Hewitt’s behalf, you’ll get a full reimbursement from them.
Jackson Hewitt gives you free audit assistance when you do your taxes with them. They say that if “you had your taxes prepared at Jackson Hewitt, then you should contact your local office before sending information or additional money to the IRS in response to an audit notice,” and that the “IRS may have made an error in the amount they state you owe and the audit item may require the knowledge that only your tax professional can provide.” While doing your taxes through this service won’t stop you from being audited, it’s comforting to know that they will have your back if and when you do.
They have two offerings for audit assistance. First is the standard offering, in which they’ll appear at the audit with you to be able to explain how they prepared your tax return. They can’t act as any legal or financial advisor in this situation, though.
If you choose to pay an additional fee, you can get the Gold Guarantee, in which Jackson Hewitt will “work with you to resolve the issue which may include reimbursement for any additional tax liability or reduction in your refund amount up to $5,000.” This includes them handling any correspondence from the IRS, any preparation of documents and expenses related to the audit, and any travel required to attend an in-person audit.
Ability to File In-Store
If you decide you want to have a person do your taxes for you instead of walking through it on your own with their online software, you have the option of going to one of their 6,000 locations to have this done. Conveniently, 3,000 of their locations are located inside of Walmart stores, so you can have them tackle your taxes while you do some shopping.
Jackson Hewitt Online does a really nice job of curating some excellent tools to help you at tax time. They offer a refund status checker, which allows you to track your refund in real-time after you’ve filed so you’ll know exactly where in the process it sits, and when you can expect your return.
They also have a W-2 locator tool, which is invaluable. Using this secure tool, you submit your information and your W-2 will be located through the ADP system. If your payroll isn’t processed through ADP, though, it may not find the W-2. I love this feature since many of us lose or just need quick access to our W-2 at tax time.
If you need to run some numbers before doing your taxes, Jackson Hewitt offers five different calculators to help you:
- 2018 Federal Income Tax Estimator
- Federal Income Tax Estimator (1040EZ)
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Estate Tax Liability
- Self-Employment Tax
Finally, if you need quick access to both current and prior year tax-related forms, they’ve directly linked all of them from their tools page.
A newer feature, Refund Advance gives you the ability to get a loan for your tax return at as low as 0% APR. The process is simple:
- See if you prequalify by filling out the information on the Jackson Hewitt website
- Go to a Jackson Hewitt office and have your taxes prepared for you
- Upload your W-2 online and your tax pro will finish your taxes
- If you’re approved for a Refund Advance, you’ll get the money right away
There is an option to get up to $3,500 with no fee at 0% APR. There’s also a “Go BIG” option that allows you to get anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 at a super-high 35.9% APR, which we don’t recommend. Currently, you can get up to $400 Early Refund Advance if you bring in your pay stub or other proof of income. You can learn more about the Refund Advance here.
Jackson Hewitt Online features three different pricing levels and has historically been fairly competitive to other more notable services, such as TurboTax and TaxAct. One of the nice things about Jackson Hewitt Online is that it offers a free version. The free version is limited but will allow you to file one federal and one state tax return.
Simple Return (Free)
This is Jackson Hewitt’s free online filing option and most people qualify for this plan when they’re filing:
- Single or Married Filing Jointly
- Up to $100,000 in taxable income
- The standard deduction
- W-2 wages and/or unemployment
- Earned Income Tax Credit without kids
This is the most basic plan and it gives you the ability to import your W2 and prior year’s tax return. It is 100% totally free, which is an excellent feature. You do need a very simple tax situation to qualify, though.
If you make over $100,000, have children, need to itemize deductions or claim more than $1,500 in interest income, you may need to go to the next level up.
Families and Retirees ($49.99 Federal; $39.99 State)
This is the middle-tier offering and includes filings with:
- Children and other dependents
- Schedule EITC and Child Tax Credit
- Dependent care expenses
- Student loans, educator expenses
- Retirement income
With this plan, you’ll get everything the basic plan offers, plus you’re able to deduct your student loan interest up to the IRS’ $2,500 maximum benefit, claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and file the Schedule EITC, and claim any retirement income–like income from your 401(k) or IRA. If you have more than $100,000 in income, though, you’ll need to go to the next level up.
Complex Returns ($69.99 Federal; $39.99 State)
This is the most all-inclusive filing option and you’ll need to use this one if you’re filing:
- Income over $100,000
- Rental property
- Itemized deductions
- Other income, credits, or deductions
This filing option is best for those who aren’t covered by the first two plans. If you have your own business, have money earned from investing, own rental properties, or have any other type of less-common tax situation, you’ll definitely need this option.
You’ll get everything from the other two plans, plus more extras, including:
- Claim capital gains and losses from selling investments, like stocks
- Claim interest and dividend income over $1,500
- Claim capital gains or losses from selling your home
- Itemize your deductions using Schedule A
- Complete support for all tax-related needs if you’re self-employed
- Ability to file Schedule E if you own rental properties
- Support for Schedule F, which allows you to claim income earned from farm land
You’ll also find much broader general support for less-common tax situations. This is the option to choose if you think your tax situation is anything but simple. I would recommend this option for most people, in fact.
Simply sign up with your name and email address to get a free account. From there, you’ll choose a plan and move forward with your tax return.
Jackson Hewitt online gives you the ability to import both competitor’s and last year’s returns, which is a great sync feature. So if you used Jackson Hewitt last year, you can easily import it and pick up where you left off. I love this ability, because if not much has changed year-to-year, you can just make minor modifications. The competitor import is great, too. If you’re switching from, say, TurboTax, you can import your return into Jackson Hewitt’s system and get started with ease.
They also offer the ability for you to import your W-2 with simplicity. Simply enter a few pieces of data and Jackson Hewitt will automatically pull in your W-2, which includes your income and taxes and is one of the most important documents to have. This way, if you lose your W-2 or just don’t want to manually enter all the numbers from the paper version, you’ll have a nice, fast option.
The Jackson Hewitt website and MyJH–where you’ll do your tax return–is fully mobile-optimized. You can do your taxes from your phone, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The font is smaller and you may miss important details.
Jackson Hewitt Online has a big database–called JH Tax Talk–that gives you access to all kinds of tax-related information. One thing I like about this is that the content is produced by Jackson Hewitt writers and specialists, not freelance writers like some other tax services (i.e., TurboTax) use. This isn’t to say the information is more accurate, but someone in the tax field can bring a special type of information and experience that others can’t.
In terms of contacting customer support, Jackson Hewitt Online offers phone and chat support. You can call them Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 9 PM EST, Saturday from 10 AM to 7 PM EST, and they’re closed on Sundays. You can also easily initiate a chat with one of their representatives in case you have tax related questions or need help using their platform
- Affordable: Pricing is competitive
- Free option: This is great if you have a simple tax return
- Multiple import options: It’s easy to import W-2 forms and last year’s tax return even if you used another tax service
- Reassuring features: Maximum refund and accuracy guarantees
- Mobile-friendly site: Though you’ll still find it easier to file via computer
- In-person assistance: Ability to go into a physical branch if needed
- Free service is only for simple returns: The free option is super limited and few will qualify
- Help options are not great: Walkthroughs and help could be more in-depth, like with TurboTax
- Not everyone will be able to file online: You’ll need to go in-person if your tax situation is very complex
- Limited customer support: Customer service is only available during specific times during the week and not available at all on Sundays.
The clear alternative is TurboTax, which is overall a superior product. We also like TaxAct and H&R Block. In terms of features, most are similar. Where services like TurboTax set itself apart is with not only it’s database of information on taxes, but also it’s live help as you’re doing your taxes. It’ll cost you more, but is a viable alternative to Jackson Hewitt.
Jackson Hewitt seems like it’s trying to compete with premium features of its competitors, but just doesn’t have enough to justify the cost. If you’re willing to spend just a little more, and don’t need the convenience of going into a physical branch to do your taxes, I would recommend TurboTax. But if you’re looking for something easy to use, straightforward, and don’t need a ton of help with your taxes, you can save a little money with Jackson Hewitt.
Overall, I’m trying to figure out what the value proposition of Jackson Hewitt is over some of the more well-known tax providers. I suppose if you’re someone with a simple tax return, you would benefit greatly from their free service. But other than that, I’m not sure Jackson Hewitt offers enough to blow its competitors out of the water. If you’re looking to try something new and would like to have the ability to meet with someone in-person if necessary, give it a shot. But otherwise, I would focus on a service like TaxAct or TurboTax.Topics: Taxes