Last year, TaxAct made massive improvements to their online tax preparation software. This year, TaxAct maintained the gains, but didn’t impress with any new or improved features.
It’s still a great choice for people who have used the software in the past, but most people looking to file for the first time will find better value elsewhere. Here’s why.
- Easy navigation, but tough to use for complex filers
- Pricing is good, but free filers will enjoy other options more
- Repeat customers will find value in saved data from prior years
TaxAct Online 2017 Review Video
Want to see TaxAct 2017 live in action? Check out our review video:
One of TaxAct’s strength is their easy to use Navigation Menu. Like most tax preparation software, TaxAct has a guided option where the software asks a series of questions, and prompts you to enter information in the necessary places.
The TaxAct questions tend to be a bit more complex than top of the line software packages like TurboTax or Credit Karma Taxes, but TaxAct makes up for the complexity by offering an easy to use menu.
In my opinion, TaxAct makes it easy to hop in and out of the software, so you can fill out your tax return as you have time. TaxAct’s navigation is superior to most tax prep software packages, including some of the more expensive options.
Ease Of Use
Unfortunately, TaxAct’s easy navigation doesn’t overcome some of it’s downfalls. Simply put, for people with more complex tax situations, TaxAct isn’t easy to use. I struggled to figure out how to deduct part of my house (we rent out our basement), and I had some trouble navigating between the child dependent credits and the child care tax credits.
When it came to figuring out how much I could contribute to my individual 401(k), I had a hard time using the form, and ultimately used an online calculator instead.
I don’t recommend it for people who earn a lot of dividend income, or who buy and sell stocks frequently.
While TaxAct has a Stock Assistant tool, it’s easier to use a software that allows you to import a spreadsheet directly into the software package.
This isn’t to say that TaxAct is hard to use. For basic filers who don’t have to itemize their tax returns, I think it’s a great solution. It’s also easy to use for people with basic itemizations, basic rental properties, and side hustles (with straightforward expenses).
Also, having used TaxAct in the past, I was impressed by how much information TaxAct saved for me. This made it easy to see how my taxes changed from year to year. Many tax softwares offer that service, and for good reason. Having a year to year comparison of taxes can really help you understand what changed, and how that affects your tax refund.
Knowledge Base Articles
TaxAct doesn’t have in depth knowledge articles to help their users learn more about the tax system. However, it’s worth noting that the knowledge articles that TaxAct offers are easily accessible through the Help Navigation Menu on the right hand side of the screen. TaxAct stands out as one of the best “curators” of knowledge articles.
In most cases, the knowledge articles were sufficient for answering questions. Personally, I wish they had more “human friendly” explanations on some finer points (especially related to deductions and credits), but the knowledge articles were adequate on most points.
TaxAct Online 2017 Pricing Plans
Every plan with TaxAct comes with unlimited phone based tax and technical support. If you’re filing early, you should have no problem reaching customer support to get the individualized attention you need.
TaxAct charges separately for State and Federal Taxes, but basic W-2 job holders who don’t need to claim deductions or credits will get the software completely free. Unfortunately, if you need to claim a deduction or credit (including the Earned income Tax Credit or Dependent Care Tax Credit), you’ll have to upgrade to Plus. This is where H&R Block's More Zero option really shines as it's truly free.
1040EZ or 1040A
Itemizers, investors (including rental property owners), people claiming credits
Self-Employed & Side Hustlers
Anyone who wants audit defense.
$0 (You may pay $15 to import last year's return)
Who Should Use TaxAct Online 2017?
I continue to like TaxAct for people who only have a W-2 job, and who don’t need to claim deductions or credits. Additionally, more complex filers who used TaxAct in the past will appreciate the ability to compare their return this year to their return last year.
TaxAct is also appropriate for people who will pay extra for professional tax advice. TaxAct only offers their “Audit Defense” to the top tier filers. This could be a good value if you have questions that you need answered.
The bottom line is that there are better options for free filers, investors, and self-employed individuals. The only ones who really benefit from TaxAct this year are repeat customers.
Are you planning on using TaxAct? Share your experience below!
TaxAct Online 2017 Review
TaxAct is great for repeat customers, but doesn’t compete with other companies for new filers.