The name says it all. Slay your taxes. And for free or for a really good bargain. We’ll give you all the details about this software in our TaxSlayer Review.
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If you pull up just about any list of the top tax preparation software programs available, there’s a good chance that TaxSlayer will be on the list. Not only is it one of the most popular tax preparation software programs available, but it’s also one of the least expensive. It offers a free version, that’s truly free, but even its premium editions are less expensive than the competition.
- File your state tax return for free
- Affordable premium editions
- Tax Refund Calculator
Resources: Cheapest Tax Software
Taxslayer actually has a long and deep history. It goes all the way back to 1965, when Aubrey Rhodes, Senior, founded Rhodes, Murphy and Company in Augusta, Georgia. The company continued to develop, and to increasingly rely on technology as the years passed. The software actually began to develop in 1989, enabling the firm to complete tax returns online.
The software was officially named TaxSlayer in 1991. It also has parallel versions for bookkeeping services, as well as online accounting and payroll. It is now one of the most popular tax preparation software programs available.
All versions enable you to prepare, print and e-file your return. And other than the Simply Free version, all versions offer all major tax forms.
TaxSlayer has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+, the highest rating on a scale of A+ to F. The mobile app is rated 3.6 stars out of five based on 2,812 views on Google Play, and 4.6 stars out of five based on 1,800 reviews at The App Store.
Features and Tools
TaxSlayer offers a wealth of features and tools to make tax preparation fast, easy and stress-free.
Zero Out of Pocket Fees. You can file your tax return, and pay any TaxSlayer filing fees out of your refund. This allows you to file your return with no upfront costs. Naturally you’ll need to be receiving a federal refund to take advantage of this arrangement. You’ll also need to provide a valid phone number, email address, and bank account information.
Guaranteed Maximum Refund. If you don’t get the maximum tax refund you’re entitled to, TaxSlayer will refund the price you paid for your software. To qualify for the refund, you’ll have to show that another tax preparation software would entitle you to either a larger refund or a smaller tax liability using the same data.
NOTE: This offer does not extend to the TaxSlayer Simply Free edition, since there’s no cost to use the service in the first place.
100% Accuracy Guarantee. TaxSlayer will check your return for errors and missing data to make sure your return is accurate. If the IRS or your state tax agency imposes any interest or penalties as a result of incorrect information due to TaxSlayer, they will reimburse you for any such charges.
Deduction Finder. This tool helps you find the deductions based on your tax situation.
Upload PDF. You can download your tax return from another online tax service or tax preparer, simply by downloading a PDF. That will save you a whole lot of data input, and speed the process overall.
Fast W2 Import. You can also upload your W2, saving you additional time inputting the data.
Customer support. Available by both phone and email, and for all TaxSlayer editions. However, email responses can take between 24 and 48 hours.
Live Chat. If you need additional help, this service is available with the Premium and Self-Employed editions. Live chat is available Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Saturdays 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sundays, noon to 5:00 PM.
Priority Support. This is available with the premium and self-employed editions. It allows you to get to the front of the line with priority support through email, live chat, or by phone.
Ask a Tax Pro. TaxSlayer employs on-staff IRS enrolled agents and tax preparers who can work on a solution to your tax problem. This is designed to provide you with a quick and accurate return, with the hands-on support you need. It’s available with both the Premium and Self-employed plans, and can be added to the Classic plan for an additional $22. When you submit a question, you’ll be contacted with a response within one business day.
IRS Audit Assistance. In the event of an IRS audit, TaxSlayer will work with you to resolve whatever the issue is. However, they don't offer direct representation before the IRS, which are services available from other tax software such as TurboTax and H&R Block. Audit Assistance is available on the Premium plan. It is not available if you file Schedule C, receive income from a K-1 or file IRS Form 2555. It also doesn't extend to state income tax audits.
Prior Year Comparisons. If you’re a prior year TaxSlayer filer, you can pull information from last year’s return to do a side-by-side comparison with this year’s results.
Tax Refund Calculator. This tool allows you to estimate your 2019 federal income tax refund before you complete your tax return. All you need to do is answer a few questions, and the calculator will give you an idea of the refund you can expect.
TaxSlayer offers four different plans, so you can choose the one that works best for you.
- TaxSlayer Simply Free
- TaxSlayer Classic
- TaxSlayer Premium
- TaxSlayer Self-Employed
- TaxSlayer Military Offer
Let’s take a look at the features of each plan below.
TaxSlayer Simply Free
As the name implies, this version allows you to file a free federal income tax return and a state tax return. Nor is there any cost for the software itself.
Simply Free is available only for those who file the simplest tax returns, including W-2 income and student loan interest and education expenses.
Simply Free offers the following features:
- Step-by-step instruction guide
- Upload last year's return
- PDF import
- Real time tax refund calculator
- Email and phone support
- Prior year comparison
- Prepare, print and e-file your return
The support service will provide technical advice, as well as assistance in finding answers and solutions to your tax preparation questions and problems.
This is TaxSlayer's most popular plan. The fee for this edition is $17, plus $29 for each state tax return filed. You can use this version to file most types of tax returns, including if you have dependents. It accommodates homeowners, retirement income, interest, dividends, and other investment income. You can also use it for all tax credits, including the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.
It offers all the features of the Simply Free edition, plus the following:
- All Major Forms
- Fast W2 import
- PDF upload
- Fast Fill Prior Year Info
- IRS inquiry assistance on your federal return for up to one year
This edition is for more complicated tax returns, and comes with a price of $37 for the federal return, plus $29 for each additional state return filed. The plan provides support for all deductions, credits, and forms, but also adds direct help from a tax expert if needed.
It includes all the features of TaxSlayer Classic, plus the following:
- IRS Audit Assistance for three full years
- Live Chat Support
- Priority Support
- Ask a Tax Pro
This version is specifically for the self-employed, though it is also the edition of choice for contractors, freelancers, and anyone who receives compensation by IRS form 1099. The price for the federal return is $47, plus $29 for each state return filed.
TaxSlayer Self-Employed comes with all the features of TaxSlayer Premium, but is designed specifically for self-employed tax filers.
It includes the following special features:
- Access to a tax pro that has self-employed expertise
- 1099 income guidance
- Schedule C expense maximization
- Quarterly estimated tax payment reminders
- Year-round tax and income tips
- Deduction Finder
TaxSlayer Military Offer
Active duty military will be able to prepare their tax returns using the TaxSlayer Classic edition for your federal return. It comes with all the features of the classic version, except that you can e-file your federal return for free.
There is a fee of $29 to prepare and file your first state income tax return. Each additional state return is also $29.
It applies to active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. To determine if you're eligible for the free offer, you must enter your military identification number from your W2.
Signing Up with TaxSlayer
To begin the TaxSlayer sign up process, you first need to create an account. You'll be required to provide your email address and mobile phone, and then to create a username and password.
Once again, you dont need to pay for the specific plan you select. You can choose a plan, complete your return, and make payment upon e-filing. But you can also take advantage of the Zero Out of Pocket Fees feature, to simply have the plan fee deducted from your anticipated refund.
Pros and Cons
- State return is free with Simply Free — You can file your state tax return for free with TaxSlayer Simply Free. Most of the other popular free tax software will offer free filing on the federal, but charges from $13 to $30 to file your state return.
- Competitive pricing — TaxSlayer’s premium editions are less expensive than most of its competitors.
- Maximum refund guaranteed — The Guaranteed Maximum Refund entitles you to a refund of the fee paid for the software, if a competing tax preparation software will produce either a larger refund, or a smaller tax liability.
- Find out your refund before you file — The Tax Refund Calculator allows you to determine your refund--or whether you owe--quickly and easily. That can take a lot of the stress out of income tax preparation since the outcome is no longer uncertain.
- Email support — Email support responses can take 24 to 48 hours, which can be a concentration killer if you’re looking to complete your return quickly.
- Ask a Tax Pro isn’t a live feature — The Ask a Tax Pro feature isn’t instantaneous; you’ll submit questions and receive your answer within one business day. That removes the option to discuss a complicated tax situation directly, in case new questions arise.
- Limited audit assistance — There is no direct representation for an IRS Audit, the way TurboTax and H&R Block can provide. If you believe you may be audited, you may want to use one of those other services instead. Audit Assistance is not available for self-employed individuals who file Schedule C or receive income from a K-1. It also doesn’t extend to state income tax audits.
There are several tax preparation software services available, and the best strategy is to find one you're most comfortable working with, but more importantly, will best match the service level you're looking for.
TaxSlayer is generally best for taxpayers with relatively simple tax situations. But if yours is more complicated, and particularly if there's even a remote possibility of facing an audit, you may want to consider other plans. For example, TaxAct accommodates somewhat more complicated tax returns, and does provide assistance if you are audited.
However, for complicated returns, and particularly those that have a higher likelihood of an audit, better options might be Liberty Tax Online or H&R Block. Both offer online tax preparation software, but also have live agents available to represent you in an audit. Each is also at least a bit more expensive than TaxSlayer.
Probably the best software for the most complicated returns is TurboTax. It’s not only the most popular, but it’s also the most comprehensive. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive, and you’ll have to weigh that out against your tax situation. But you can purchase an audit defense package for a very modest amount of money, if that’s a major consideration.
If Audit Assistance doesn’t provide direct representation before the IRS, what is the benefit of having the service?
Even though Audit Assistance doesn’t provide direct representation, they can still help you through the audit process. Most IRS audits involved letters questioning a certain aspect of your return. The feature can help you with responding to those inquiries. And if you will be subject to and in-person audit, they can help you prepare in advance.
Will Priority Support enable me to get immediate responses to my questions?
Priority Support is designed to move you to the “front of the line”. How quickly you will receive a response will depend on the backlog of customer questions. You should naturally expect delays to be longer the closer we get to April 15, when the phone and email traffic will be heavier.
It doesn’t seem as if there is much difference between the Classic and Premium plans. Why would I pay extra for the Premium plan?
The two plans are admittedly close. But for an extra $20, the Premium plan provides you with IRS Audit Assistance for three years, plus gives you greater access to TaxSlayer support. That includes live chat and priority support, and the Ask a Tax Pro features. Whether you choose the Classic or Premium plan may be determined by your comfort level in preparing your return (or how much support you expect to need), as well as the likelihood of your return being subject to IRS scrutiny.
Should You Prepare Your Tax Return with TaxSlayer?
If you're looking for one of the lower cost tax preparation software plans, TaxSlayer is well worth closer investigation. You can choose the plan level that suits your tax situation, and of course, you can always trade up to another edition if your taxes end up being more complicated than you originally thought.
The software provides all the information and tools you need to prepare a professional grade tax return. And even the budget priced Classic version can accommodate all tax forms. That means most taxpayers will be able to prepare their returns for just $24 for the federal return, and $29 for the state return, if your state has an income tax.
If youd like more information, or if youd like to order the software, visit the TaxSlayer website.