Looking for an affordable tax software solution for experienced filers? In 2018, eSmartTax delivers a decent software solution, and helpful support features. However, it’s a high price to pay for a mediocre software. It feels especially expensive when you consider that the eSmartTax software is literally identical to the FreeTax.com software.
Did the support features put eSmartTax over the edge in 2018? My opinion is no, but you can read further to see if it might be the right tax software for you.
- Self-guided navigation and few import options
- Connection with Liberty Tax for professional help
- Higher pricing than potentially better options
eSmartTax offers only self-guided navigation. If you know what you’re doing, the navigation is pretty easy to understand. You use the menu at the top to enter personal information, income, deductions, etc. Experienced users should have an easy time getting from one place to another in the software.
The trouble with the self guided navigation comes when you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for. A new user might struggle to find the exact place they should enter their self-employment retirement information or their quarterly estimates. Using the search function, it’s generally possible to find what you need, but the whole process could overwhelm newer users. The navigation certainly doesn’t give users any hand-holding.
eSmartTax Ease Of Use
In some ways, eSmartTax’s bare bones interface makes the software easy to use. Users can just pick where they want to add info, and move on. However, the long lists, unexplained jargon, and small print can make the software difficult to use. It’s certainly easy to skip over important sections if you don’t have all your information in front of you.
eSmartTax does offer some helpful tax pointers (in a curated list on the right hand side of the software), but these are true basics. Anyone with more complex questions will need to consult with eSmartTax’s tax preparers (via a phone consultation) for more answers.
Unfortunately, eSmartTax also loses some points since they don’t allow many imports. You can import W-2 forms (in some cases), but other than that filers are left to fill out their own forms. For most people, this is fine, but active traders, people who have multiple bank or brokerage accounts, and real estate owners may find all the entering cumbersome. So many high end software companies are allowing users to import a variety of tax forms that it makes the basic software packages look behind the times.
eSmartTax Knowledge Articles
eSmartTax offers basic Q&A on the sidebar, but that’s the extent of their knowledge articles. However, users can access live chat and phone support throughout the tax season. Chat representatives only offer tech support, but phone representatives are tax filing professionals (including some CPAs).
eSmartTax also connects their software to the Liberty Tax offices, so you can easily consult a professional, but that will cost more.
eSmartTax Pricing And Plans
The major value that eSmartTax brings to the table is their included audit assistance from Liberty Tax (a Brick and Mortar tax prep service). This service can be a huge value for people who are worried about their taxes. The fact that users can reach tax professionals via email or phone calls also gives eSmartTax users an added advantage.
With these in mind, eSmartTax has mid-tier pricing for below average software but well above average services. The Federal filing prices seem reasonable, but their state filing costs are much higher than all companies besides TurboTax and H&R Block. Additionally, eSmartTax has raised their prices in 2017 without a commensurate increase in value.
One interesting feature of the eSmartTax pricing tiers is that it partially supports the self-employment income in the Basic edition of the software. It’s not exactly clear what the software supports in the basic edition (home office and depreciation are definitely excluded, but common expenses such as advertising, utilities and more are supported), but this level could offer savings for side-hustlers (especially in states without income taxes).
These are the pricing tiers for eSmartTax in 2018.
1040EZ (plus Childcare/ Dependent care credits)
Most itemizers, people with Health Savings Accounts, some side-hustlers
Most Stock Market Investors
Most self-employed, landlords, and people who sold a home
Who Should Use eSmartTax In 2018?
In 2018, eSmartTax users really need to focus on the benefits of great customer service. If that’s not a value add for you, then it’s not a good service for you.
In my opinion, users seeking a great tax filing experience should consider H&R Block or TurboTax and users seeking a deal should use TaxHawk (or in some cases TaxSlayer). With those recommendations, eSmartTax is a software that most people shouldn’t use in 2018.
eSmartTax delivers a decent software solution, and helpful support features. However, it’s a high price to pay for a mediocre software.