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TaxSlayer Review 2024: Best Online Tax Software for Freelancers and Side Hustlers

TaxSlayer features an online experience solid enough to pull you away from top competitors, thanks to its bargain prices.

TaxSlayer is CNET’s choice for best tax software for freelancers and gig workers, thanks to its affordable pricing and solid user interface. It offers four tax filing options this year -- Simply Free, Classic, Premium and Self-Employed. For the money you pay, the software packs quite a punch but isn’t on par with tax giants TurboTax and H&R Block.

This is particularly true of Taxslayer’s help and support options. There’s no artificial intelligence support to highlight akin to H&R Block’s AI Tax Assist and TurboTax’s Intuit Assist. A help tab at the top of every TaxSlayer page simply offers a pop-out searchable FAQ panel with links to online or phone support. 

You can pay for personalized help through TaxSlayer’s Premium and Self-Employed tiers, but the basic free tools are suitable enough for experienced online tax filers who know exactly what forms they need.

  • Cheaper than most online tax software
  • Maximum refund and 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Assistance online or by phone
  • Intuitive mobile app
  • Free plan is extremely limited
  • Not as user-friendly as competitors
  • No downloadable tax filing software
  • No tax refund advance loan option

Who should use TaxSlayer tax software?

TaxSlayer is the right choice for you if you want a solid interface and don’t want to pay top dollar on TurboTax or H&R Block.

Taxpayers claiming a variety of deductions and credits will be drawn to TaxSlayer’s Classic tier. It covers all IRS forms and schedules -- everything from stock sales and rental income to freelance. If you end up needing assistance along the way, you can always upgrade to the Premium or Self-Employed tier, which grants you access to a tax pro. 

TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed tier is really where gig economy workers and freelancers get the most bang for their buck, in our view. It includes support from a tax pro with self-employment expertise for a much cheaper price than competitors like H&R Block and TurboTax that charge what feels like an arm and a leg for this add-on.

We also like that active military members can file federal returns for free on TaxSlayer, no matter their tax situation, but will have to pay to file a state return.

Tax filers with simple returns may be better off using H&R Block or TurboTax, which offer better online help, support and a wider range of IRS forms and credits in their free tiers. Cash App Taxes and IRS Free File (if you qualify) are also a good fit if you want to file for free and don’t need much help. 

What are TaxSlayer’s different products?

pressrelease-taxslayer
TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer offers four levels of service -- Simply Free, Classic, Premium and Self-Employed -- that range from free to $53 to file a federal return under current promotional pricing. State returns in most cases cost an additional $40, per state.

Simply Free has many restrictions, including a limit of $100,000 in taxable income. You also can’t claim any dependents. But you do get a free state return.

Classic is TaxSlayer’s catch-all tier and includes all of the IRS forms and schedules you’ll need for most filing situations -- including self-employment income and expenses. But to use TaxSlayer’s live chat feature and access a tax pro, you must pay for its Premium tier. 

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TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed tier provides tax preparation support from a tax professional versed in self-employment taxes, as well as services like year-round tax payment reminders and audit defense for three years. 

All of the tiers use a question-and-answer model that experienced online tax filers will be familiar with. The interface and help content of TaxSlayer may not be as polished as other top competitors, but it’s an attractive option if you’re comfortable completing your own tax returns.

Simply Free: Best for simple returns

The Simply Free tier costs nothing to file your federal taxes and includes one free state return. If you are switching from another tax service, TaxSlayer lets you upload your previous tax return to get started. 

TaxSlayer Simply Free supports W-2 forms and student loan credits but not many other common deductions -- like claiming dependents -- that you can add for free with other online tax software. The free tier also includes unlimited tax and technical support via email or phone. 

If you have a simple return and don’t need to claim anything other than education costs, Simply Free will get the job done. But most filers will need to consider one of TaxSlayer’s paid options.

Classic: Best for most tax filers

TaxSlayer Classic is the catch-all tier. It includes common credits like the earned income tax credit and child tax credit. There are also no form or schedule restrictions, which is good news for investors, landlords and freelancers looking to file for cheap. 

Classic will cost $23 for a federal return, and $40 per state filing. It also comes with unlimited phone and email support and includes free help with potential IRS inquiries for one year after your return is accepted. 

Even for that bargain price, some fillers will still be left wanting more on the online help and support front. But if you have a few years of filing your taxes online by yourself, this tier should work well for you.

If you are adding income from a 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC form, TaxSlayer will ask if you want to upgrade to the Self-Employed tier, but you don’t have to. You can upgrade to the Premium or Self-Employed tiers at any time during the tax filing process. 

Premium: Best for filers seeking additional tax support

Do you have a more complicated tax situation this year? If so, TaxSlayer Premium can give you the peace of mind you need to file your taxes confidently.

You get everything Classic provides, but Premium is the cherry on top in terms of online help and support. The tier includes live chat and priority phone and email support. You also get unlimited professional tax advice throughout the entire tax filing process, in addition to IRS audit assistance for three years.

TaxSlayer Premium will cost you $43 for a federal return and $40 per state return.

Self-Employed: Freelancers and business owners

Self-Employed is essentially Premium, but tailored to freelancers and business owners. 

For $53 (state additional), you get access to a tax pro with self-employment expertise who can guide you through reporting your 1099 income and maximizing Schedule C business deductions. Please note that TaxSlayer doesn’t guarantee that you’ll speak directly with a certified public accountant, or CPA.

Freelancers who choose this tier over Classic also get quarterly estimated tax payment reminders and personalized tax tips for one year after you file. This is in addition to three years of audit assistance, priority phone, and email support and live chat access you would get with Premium.

TaxSlayer products, compared

Best forProductFederal*State**
Simple returnsSimply Free$0$0
Most tax filersClassic$23$40
Filers seeking additional tax supportPremium$43$40
Freelancers and business ownersSelf-Employed$53$40
*Price as of Feb. 7 **per state return filed

How does TaxSlayer work?

TaxSlayer doesn’t feel as premium as H&R Block and TurboTax because it doesn’t hold your hand or offer flashy AI tools. But it’s worth considering if you want to reduce your tax filing costs. 

For the price you pay, you get a solid tech stack. TaxSlayer allows you to upload your previous tax return to get you started if you’re switching from another service. If you used TaxSlayer last year, it will use that return as a guide to help you file in 2024. 

Many tax forms, like your W-2, 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC, can be uploaded via PDF onto the service. You can also import stock sales from your financial institution with ease. Some tax information will need to be typed in manually, however. I found this to be the case with unemployment income, bank interest and retirement distribution tax forms. 

TaxSlayer’s online help and support is lacking for its Simply Free and Classic Tiers. But what I love about TaxSlayer is it can be as guided of an experience as you want it to be. This is both true of the tier you choose to pay for and how much hand holding you need the software to do for you when you are completing your taxes. 

For example, TaxSlayer allows you to select your own tax forms from the beginning or answer questions about your tax situation so it can make the choice for you.

TaxSlayer's online software asks if I want to select my own forms or be guided with my decision.
Screenshot by Danni Santana/CNET

By clicking “Select my forms,” you’re brought to a list of common tax forms you can choose to fill out. The guided experience prompts TaxSlayer’s software to ask you questions about your tax situation to ensure you don’t miss anything. Many filers may find this comforting and possibly a call back to the experience of using TurboTax. 

TaxSlayer also has two other cool features worth mentioning. One is “Notes,” which lets you create virtual sticky notes, or reminders, for yourself that you can organize by page, such as deductions or income. The other is Quick File, which finds specific tax forms or schedules for you by typing it into a search bar.

Screenshot by Danni Santana/CNET

The problem is that these tools are buried under “Toolbox” at the very bottom of the left-side navigation panel. They should be more prominent, perhaps even up top next to TaxSlayer’s Help & Support tab.

Is TaxSlayer Premium worth the cost?

Most tax filers with uncomplicated situations won’t need the extra help that Tax Slayer’s Premium tier provides, especially since phone and email support are included with the Simply Free and Classic tiers. 

Whether an upgrade to Premium is worth the cost will depend on how experienced you are with doing your own taxes online.

If you start filing your taxes with the Classic tier and find yourself unable to answer some of the questions, or are unsure about which forms you need, you might want to consider the extra $20 for live support. Likewise, if you have significant concerns about getting audited by the IRS, the extra $20 for Premium offers you three years of audit assistance.

Freelancers, gig workers and business owners who want additional guidance to what they receive in Classic can take advantage of TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed tier to maximize deductions with the help of an experienced tax professional. 

Other notable features TaxSlayer offers

TaxSlayer’s tax software aims to keep its process simple and inexpensive. You can get a wide range of forms you need to file your return by paying for its Classic tier. 

But TaxSlayer does lack some of the extras you’ll get with more expensive competitors. Its level of online reference documentation is also less comprehensive than TurboTax or H&R Block. 

The Tools and Resources page includes a Tax Refund CalculatorTax Refund Calculato and links out to IRS resources. The page also has articles about extensions, recent tax code changes and information on filing back tax returns for previous years.

On the plus side, TaxSlayer’s mobile app works as intended. You can start your return on desktop and seamlessly move over to mobile to complete your return. However, we don’t recommend doing this. The mobile app is best used to reference your return after you file or for help and support during the tax filing process. 

After you complete your tax return, you can choose to receive your refund through TaxSlayer in a few different ways:

  • Direct deposit to your bank account
  • Printed check in the mail
  • Transfer to a prepaid TaxSlayer Visa debit card issued by Green Dot

TaxSlayer is not advertising any refund advance offers this year. It does let you pay your TaxSlayer tax preparation fees using money from your expected refund, for an additional fee.

Is TaxSlayer right for me?

TaxSlayer’s interface and help content may not be as polished as other top competitors, but its bargain prices for most filers make it an attractive option for those comfortable completing their own tax returns. There are better, free online options tax filers looking for basic assistance should explore first.

That said, TaxSlayer is especially lucrative if you’re self-employed -- whether you opt for Classic or want additional assistance through its Self-Employed tier. Both come with cheaper price tags compared with industry leaders. Self-Employed also has helpful additional perks for freelancers and gig economy workers. 

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Danni Santana has spent seven years as an editor and business journalist covering industries like sports, retail, restaurants, and now personal finance. Most recently he worked as a retail editor at Business Insider. He is a graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. His biggest loves outside of the newsroom include, running, cooking, playing video games and collecting sneakers.
Peter is a writer and editor for the CNET How-To team. He has been covering technology, software, finance, sports and video games since working for @Home Network and Excite in the 1990s. Peter managed reviews and listings for Download.com during the 2000s, and is passionate about software and no-nonsense advice for creators, consumers and investors.