When it comes to filing taxes do you feel like you’re in an epic battle against the IRS? Do you wish you had someone in your corner coaching you? Unless you’re willing to shell out for an accountant, you’ll have to fly solo. But you can get a technological assist from a great tax preparation software like TaxSlayer. The software won’t slay IRS agents, but it will help you prepare your taxes quickly and easily.
TaxSlayer features an easy to use “interview style” platform that is easy enough for beginners, and flexible enough for some of the most complex filers.
But is it the right tax software for you? We dug in to help you know more.
TaxSlayer Tax Prep Process
TaxSlayer has one of the cleanest, easiest to navigate interfaces in the tax software marketplace. As a user, you can choose to use the “guided” interview style software, or you can navigate on your own. I love that TaxSlayer gives users this option, and you win with either option.
The guided interface is one of the best available, and is perfect for first time filers. After filling out basic personal information, the software allows you to go through a Q&A to see what parts of the tax code matter to you.
When you have relevant information, the software funnels you into a secondary screen where you enter the required information. You can only upload a W-2, but not other forms (like 1099s), which might be a detractor for some users. However, these sections are easy to fill out and intuitive.
My only complaint about this funnel is that you don’t have a good way to double check your work. This isn’t a big deal if you’re only entering W-2 forms or other sources of income. But real estate depreciation and equipment amortization can be a struggle with TaxSlayer. I could not figure out an easy way to check how much depreciation I took on my real estate portfolio.
That’s not to say TaxSlayer doesn’t calculate depreciation. TaxSlayer not only calculates it, it gives the option to depreciate using methods other than “Straight Line.” This might not be a huge deal to most filers, but it is a valuable feature for real estate investors.
If it were easy to see depreciation expenses, this would be the single best tax software on the market. As it stands, many people will need to pass on TaxSlayer because of this flaw.
What If I Get Confused?
If you get confused, you can start by researching TaxSlayer’s extensive library. The library has an excellent search feature, and every topic I searched had relevant articles. The library is that it didn’t feature “How To” articles, so users need to figure out implementation on their own.
If the knowledge library doesn’t answer your question, you can email or call for technical support. However, if you need professional advice, you have to upgrade to the Premium Platform. With TaxSlayer Premium, you have access to a Tax Professional who can advise you. This is an incredibly valuable feature, especially given the modest price tag for the software.
TaxSlayer 2016 Pricing And Plans
TaxSlayer offers a Free Version of their software to filers using a 1040EZ, but you’ll have to pay $26.99 for state filing. If you notice, the state filing fee is higher for free Federal filers. I personally dislike that they charge a higher price for their state filing on their free version versus other versions. I don't think that's right to do to consumers. It's basically making the "Free" version $7 plus their normal State fee they charge for other versions.
The Classic Software supports all forms, and is an excellent software. It costs $17.99 for Federal filing and $19.99 for state filing. This version does not come with audit assistance or “Ask a professional” support.
The premium version costs $39.99 for federal filing and $19.99 for state. This package comes with extra support including the guarantee of audit assistance, and support from tax professionals. If you’re going to file with TaxSlayer, it seems wise to consider these upgrades.
$0 Federal + $26.99 State
$17.99 Federal + $19.99 State
$39.99 Federal + $19.99 State
Anyone who files a 1040EZ
This is the version for everyone who doesn't need extra support, but might not work for some investors.
This is the version where you can get extra support with your taxes and audit assistance if you need it.
I have a love/hate relationship with TaxSlayer. It is by far one of the easiest to use software systems on the market. Their “Ask a Professional” support rivals even top priced rivals. Add to that their modest pricing in the middle and high tiers, and it seems like a slam dunk for complex filers.
But the software isn’t for everyone. These are the people who might need to look elsewhere.
Real estate investors and small business owners need to decide if they can live with TaxSlayer’s shortcomings. If you can be very careful entering your depreciation and amortization expenses, then TaxSlayer is perfect. Otherwise, you’ll have to move to a higher end software to get the features you need.
Basic filers should look for free filing at TaxAct.com without the higher premium for state tax filing (once again, I find that rude).
The bottom line is that TaxSlayer could be a great choice for people with more complex tax returns if you can live with it's shortcomings around depreciation. Otherwise, you're better looking for alternative options. Try TaxSlayer for free here.
Have you ever used TaxSlayer?