If you’re looking for a low-cost tax prep solution that comes with audit assistance protection, you may be tempted by Online Taxes (OLT.com).
Unfortunately, in 2017, the software remains buggy and generally difficult to use.
Experienced filers who don’t have complicated tax situations may feel comfortable with OLT.com’s barebones interface, but most filers should look elsewhere for a more straightforward experience.
Here’s what you need to know about the OLT.com filing experience for 2017 taxes.
- Poor navigation and ease of use
- Buggy with tabbing and inputs
- Pricing is one of the lowest for all tax forms included
OnlineTaxes Review Video
OLT.com has a subpar software navigation experience. More than once, when I used tab to enter addresses, the system skipped lines which made it difficult to figure out where I entered my information.
OLT.com requires users to complete taxes in a preferred order (personal information, income and earnings, deductions and credits, health coverage, etc.). To move to the next section you must enter a screen that says you’ve completed the section. You can move backwards through the software, but again, you need to enter multiple screens to do so. Overall, this creates an unnecessarily clunky navigation experience.
Within each section, OLT.com offers a streamlined interface. I thought the in-section navigation made sense (and looked a lot better than last year’s software), but still tended to use overly technical language.
Since OLT.com does not offer guided navigation, users have to figure out what sections apply to them on their own.
Experienced filers will likely have an easy time of this, but newer filers may end up confused. For example, when I went to declare my capital gains, I had to figure out whether I needed to enter a 1099-B or a 1099-S form. The software didn’t offer any guidance on which form applied to me (1099-B is generally for stock sales and 1099-S for real estate transactions).
OLT.com Ease Of Use
Though OLT.com has cleaned up the user interface, it’s still a fairly difficult to use software. In general, you need to know your tax jargon to make it through the tax software system. A great tax software system will enhance your tax prep with great search functions, relevant knowledge articles, and easy to understand mini-explainers. OLT.com didn’t offer any of these.
Instead, OLT.com links out to the IRS website, and leaves it to users to figure things out. Experienced filers may figure the software out, but it’s tough. In particular, reporting self-employment income and rental property income seemed unnecessarily difficult. The “useful information” articles simply regurgitated definitions directly from various forms.
OLT.com Knowledge Articles
When it comes to helping users through the software, OLT.com added one innovative feature that it called Helper Images. These images show users the exact box that contains information the software needs.
Overall, this could be a helpful tool, but other software services have robust importing options that render Helper Images unnecessary.
OLT.com doesn’t have many knowledge articles outside of the helper images, and those it has are quite paltry. The software relies too heavily on links out to the IRS website to be useful.
OLT.com Pricing And Plans
OTL.com has a free Federal plan (state $9.95 per return) or a premium edition. The primary difference between the two plans is that the second plan comes with audit assistance protection and customer support via phone and live chat. The customer support representatives are both knowledgeable and helpful, but they offer tech support not tax support. There is a note on the website that customer support is very busy during peak season.
Both plans give you access to all the major tax filing schedules, and you can import your data from the previous year.
Anyone comfortable filing their own taxes very manually
If you want customer service and audit support
Who Should Use OLT.com in 2017?
Honestly, we don't recommend anyone use this software - there are so many better options on the market.
OLT.com does offer value by including all the schedules with both it’s free and paid editions. If you’re a side hustler who is also an experienced tax filer, OLT.com may be an appropriate choice for you (especially with regards to audit assistance), but I prefer TaxHawk.com for bargain hunters who want audit assistance.
OLT.com 2017 Review
Online Taxes (or OLT.com) is a barebones tax preparation software that we don't recommend. We've found it buggy and difficult to use.