This story is part of Taxes 2023, CNET's coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.
TaxSlayer offers tax preparation software, in line with both TurboTax and H&R Block, but at a fraction of the cost. If you're comfortable filing your taxes online, you can file a federal return for between $0 to $50 and $0 to $40 for a state return -- a much lower price range than top tier competitors.
This online tax software's excellent value for gig workers helped it earn our top pick for freelancers, side hustlers and self-employed filers in our roundup of best tax software of 2023. Even if you're a salaried W-2 employee, TaxSlayer may be more affordable than competitors.
TaxSlayer's five tiers of tax preparation cover a variety of filing options with optional added support. The big exception is the Simply Free tier, which includes tough restrictions. The most expensive tax-filing tier -- Self-Employed -- costs $90 for federal and state returns, and it comes with email support, live chat and help from a self-employment tax professional. It also offers a $0 federal return and $40 state return option for military personnel.
Though TaxSlayer offers a simpler experience than other top brands, its interface feels familiar to anyone who's used web-based email. A help link at the top of every page offers a pop-out searchable FAQ panel with links to online or phone support.
- Cheaper than most online tax software
- Maximum refund and 100% accuracy guarantee
- Assistance online or by phone
- Free plan is extremely limited
- Not as user-friendly as competitors
- No downloadable tax filing software or in-office filing
Who is TaxSlayer best for?
Taxpayers claiming a variety of deductions and credits who can handle their taxes without help should consider TaxSlayer's Classic tier, which has a competitive edge over similar online tax preparation services. It covers all IRS forms and schedules -- everything from stock sales and cryptocurrency to rental income and the solar energy tax credit. If you end up needing assistance along the way, you can always upgrade to the next Premium tier.
Self-employed individuals also get access to services at a much lower cost than competitors. It also includes support from a tax pro with self-employment expertise at no extra cost, while competitors like H&R Block and TurboTax charge for this add-on.
Military members get a good deal at TaxSlayer, too. They qualify to file their federal taxes for free, regardless of the service tier. (State returns still cost $40 each, except at the Simply Free level.)
Who should look elsewhere?
Rental owners who sold and bought property in 2021 and want to avoid capital gains will need to look elsewhere. TaxSlayer doesn't include support for IRS Form 8824, which is necessary for "like-kind" 1031 tax exchanges. If you know that you'll need a specific form, make sure it's on the list of IRS forms included with TaxSlayer.
The Simply Free tier has restrictions that will exclude many taxpayers, so we recommend trying other tax preparation services instead, particularly if you qualify to file for free with the IRS. And, if you're new to filing your taxes, you might want a bit more guidance than TaxSlayer currently provides.
What are TaxSlayer's different products?
Aside from its specialty military offering, TaxSlayer's online tax preparation services come in four different tiers: Simply Free, Classic, Premium and Self-Employed. All of the tiers use a question-and-answer system that guides filers through the tax preparation process. While the Simply Free tier functions adequately, its strict limitations will leave most taxpayers wanting more.
The broader Classic tier covers all incomes, credits and deductions for most taxpayers, and the Premium tier offers additional tax preparation support on top of those features. The Self-Employed tier adds specific help and support for business owners, gig workers and freelancers.
Simply Free: Best for low-income W-2 tax filers with no dependents or deductions
The Simply Free tier costs nothing to file your federal taxes and one state return. If you need to file additional state returns, each one costs $40.
TaxSlayer allows users to prepare returns and print or file them electronically. It supports W-2 incomes, as well as student loan interest and education expenses, but not many other important credits and deductions.
Simply Free does include basic 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 the paid options.
Classic: Best for most tax filers
TaxSlayer's Classic tier includes all of the major IRS forms that most will need to file their taxes. 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.
The Classic tier includes all of the important credits like the earned income tax credit, child tax credit and child care tax credit, as well as all deductions and adjustments to income. If you're using TaxSlayer for the first time, you can import your prior tax returns, but only PDFs of Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ -- not any supplemental forms.
The Classic tier also includes basic email and phone support.
Premium: Best for filers who need additional tax support
TaxSlayer's Premium tier includes everything in the Classic tier with a variety of add-on support services. You can still access all of the available IRS forms and schedules, add all income types and adjustments and print or e-file your tax return.
Upgrading to Premium adds IRS Audit Assistance for three years, the ability to skip the line for priority email and phone support, live chat and unlimited professional tax advice through the entire tax filing process.
Self-Employed: Best for gig workers, contractors and business owners
TaxSlayer's Self-Employed tier takes the extensive support from TaxSlayer's Premium tier and boosts it with specific advice and support for gig workers, freelancers and small business owners. Along with three years of audit assistance, priority phone and email support and live chat, you'll get access to a tax professional experienced in self-employed tax issues, though TaxSlayer doesn't guarantee that you'll speak directly with a CPA.
You'll also receive specific guidance with 1099 income and detailed instructions on maximizing work expense deductions on Schedule C. The Self-Employed tier adds quarterly estimated tax payment reminders, a personalized guide to self-employment taxes and year-round tax and income tips for freelancers.
TaxSlayer products, compared
|Those with simple returns||Free||$0||$0|
|Those seeking additional tax support||Premium||$40||$40|
|Freelancers and business owners||Self-Employed||$50||$40|
*Pricing as of Jan. 6, 2023
**Cost is per state return filed
Is TaxSlayer Premium worth the cost?
Most tax filers with uncomplicated situations won't need the extra help that Premium provides, especially since phone and email support are included with the Simply Free and Classic tiers. Whether or not an upgrade to Premium is worth the cost will be dependent on how experienced you are with doing your own taxes online and how complicated your taxes are.
If you start filing your taxes with the Classic tier and find yourself unable to answer some of the questions, or 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, this extra $20 offers you three years of audit assistance.
Other notable features of TaxSlayer
TaxSlayer guarantees a maximum refund and 100% accuracy for all plans. The two highest tiers include three years of IRS audit assistance, support from a tax professional and technical help. For the Self-Employed tier, you get access to a tax pro with tailored experience in self-employed taxes.
This tax software aims to keep its process simple and inexpensive, but it does lack some of the extras you'll get with more expensive competitors. Its level of online reference documentation is also less comprehensive than on TurboTax or H&R Block.
The Tools and Resources page includes a Tax Refund Calculator and links out to IRS resources. The page also has helpful articles about extensions, recent tax code changes and information on filing back tax returns for previous years.
You can choose to receive your tax refund from 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.
Within the tax software itself, TaxSlayer includes a few nifty features that add value. Unfortunately, they're a bit buried in the interface -- way down at the bottom of the left-hand navigation under "Toolbox."
- Reminder Notes: Create virtual sticky notes to mark certain sections of your tax return for review. Jump easily from note to note to correct or complete certain forms before filing or moving on to the next step.
- Quick File: Instantly find specific forms or schedules by populating a search results box with links as you type.
TaxSlayer offers a solid though not a stylish method for preparing your taxes, although the Simply Free tier is so limited that many filers will not be able to take advantage of it. But if you're self-employed or a typical tax filer with common deductions and credits, TaxSlayer's inexpensive yet full-featured tiers deserve a good look.
Compare other tax software
- Best Tax Software for 2023
- TurboTax Review
- H&R Block Review
- Cash App Taxes Review
- Jackson Hewitt Review
- TaxAct Review
- FreeTaxUSA Review
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.