Like its online and desktop rivals, TaxAct asks a series of questions and uses your answers to fill in the appropriate lines of your tax form. TaxAct Online supposedly imported our return from the prior year, but later we still had to manually enter our employer identification number from scratch. The service is free to try, so you pay only when you print or e-file your returns. Concerned about privacy? TaxAct Online uses industry-standard SSL encryption to transmit your data, which it stores and backs up on its secure servers.
TaxAct's interview covers the basics well, including salary, dependents, business income, major life changes like a marriage, and so on. However, its interview is bit more redundant than TurboTax's. You can import a W-2 via TALX W-2 eXpress if offered by your job. TaxAct takes into account the government's new credits for the telephone excise tax, household energy efficiency improvements, and the purchase of a greener car. TaxAct Deluxe and Ultimate include help with life events, comparisons to national averages, and capital gains and depreciation details, as do Intuit TurboTax and H&R Block TaxCut. We appreciated TaxAct's extra help with FAFSA student aid forms, as should college students. TaxAct can also produce and save PDF tax forms.
However, TaxAct's more complex sections could be more precise for novices. For instance, the section for entering Schedule C business data didn't explain how we should break down home office rent and utilities. We also wish that TaxAct's review would link us directly to the sections in question.
For support, TaxAct offers a well-organized, searchable knowledge base on its Web site. Support by e-mail is free. Telephone support is also available at an Iowa telephone number for users of the Deluxe or higher editions. TaxAct guarantees a response within 48 hours. During tax season, January 10 to April 15, support is available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m PST. The rest of the year it's available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
TaxAct will refund your money within 30 days of e-filing if the IRS rejects your return. If the IRS later audits you, TaxAct pledges to pay any penalties that resulted from an error in its service. However, unlike H&R Block's TaxCut desktop and online services, there's no specific, personal help to walk you through an audit.
TaxAct's bargain price makes it our preferred choice for filers with simple returns, and it covers a variety of tax credits and life changes. But you might want to consider boxed software such as Intuit TurboTax if you need more hand-holding with investments and complex deductions.