If you’ve prepared your tax return online before, you’re probably aware of the usual tax prep suspects: H&R Block, TurboTax, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer. They all make it easy and relatively affordable (some more than others) to prepare your taxes in the comfort of your own home.
TaxPoint isn’t on that list because it’s a relatively new company with limited name recognition. It should be though. TaxPoint has many advantages working in its favor: It’s run by a CPA, it’s cheaper than many competitors (it’s roughly as costly as TurboTax, for instance), and it has a user-friendly interface that appeals to novices and experienced filers alike.
If you’re in the market for a new tax prep program this year, or you’re simply curious about what other options are out there, give TaxPoint a closer look.
Plans, Pricing & Features
TaxPoint has three straightforward price tiers. Basically, the lowest-priced plan is ideal for simple situations, the middle-priced plan caters to moderately complicated situations, and the highest-priced plan is made for more complicated situations.
Selecting Your Plan
To select your plan, you describe your life situation by selecting a few very basic either-or options: single or married, rent or own your home, have investments or not, have dependents or not, own a business or not, and own rental property or not. This is similar to the plan selection procedure for another relatively new online tax prep service, TaxHub. Depending on your responses, you’re guided into one of the three plans. You can override TaxPoint’s selection and choose a lower-priced plan if desired, but you’ll be prompted to upgrade eventually based on the information you enter in your return, so there’s no point to doing this.
Guided Interview Option
Once you’ve selected your plan, you’re given the option to submit to a short guided interview that asks more detailed questions about your life situation, including the types of income you received and activities that may entitle you to tax deductions or credits. Based on your interview answers, TaxPoint presents all the forms you’re likely required to fill out. You can work on these forms in any order, though you can’t skip ahead to work on your state return until you’ve completed your federal return.
DIY Form Filling
If you feel confident that you know exactly which forms you need, you can skip the guided interview and dive right in. If you choose this option, you need to manually select and fill out each relevant form, so it’s definitely not recommended that you do so unless you’ve prepared your taxes before.
Importing and Accuracy Guarantee
TaxPoint has one big drawback that’s worth noting upfront: It doesn’t allow automatic 1099 form importing. This can be problematic for filers who receive multiple 1099 statements, particularly if they’re active investors who buy and sell securities regularly (and who, in the absence of automatic importing, must enter each transaction individually). On the other hand, TaxPoint has a huge perk: All active-duty military personnel file for free, regardless of their chosen plan.
Also, like most online tax prep companies, TaxPoint has a 100% accuracy guarantee that covers all three price points. If you incur an IRS or state penalty due to a software calculation error, TaxPoint reimburses you in full.
1. Federal Free Edition
TaxPoint’s Federal Free Edition is totally free for your federal return. State returns cost $24.95 each. This option is ideal for very simple tax situations that can be completed with Form 1040EZ and Form 1040A. If you need to itemize your deductions or report self-employment income, this plan isn’t for you.
The Federal Free Edition’s features and functions include:
- W-2 Importing. You can electronically import your W-2(s) into your current year TaxPoint return.
- Prior Year TaxPoint Return Transfer. If you prepared your taxes with TaxPoint last year, you can transfer all relevant information from your prior year return, rather than manually re-entering the relevant information into your current year return.
- Prior Year Return Importing. If you prepared your taxes with another online tax prep service last year, you can import your prior year return and populate your current year return with the relevant information.
- Free Bilingual Phone/Chat/Email Technical & Tax Support. TaxPoint offers free email, live chat, and phone support for technical and tax issues. The company proudly advertises that its support staff members – both technical support and tax expert support – are fluent in both English and Spanish (not all reps are bilingual, but the bilingual contingent is large enough to accommodate virtually any level of demand). Email support is available around the clock and typically produces a response within 12 hours. Live chat support is available 9am to 9pm Central, seven days a week, and typically produces a response within moments. Phone support operates on a callback basis, meaning you call in, provide contact information, and wait for a callback from a live tech support rep or tax expert, typically within 30 minutes. Phone support is available 9am to 5pm Central on weekdays. However, it’s not available on weekends.
2. Federal Deluxe Edition
The Federal Deluxe Edition costs $14.95 (seemingly permanently discounted from $19.95) for your federal return and $24.95 for each state return. It’s ideal for moderately complicated tax situations, including itemized deductions and retirement income. However, it’s not ideal for investors, self-employed professionals, or small business owners.
The Federal Deluxe Edition comes with all the features of the Federal Free Edition, plus:
- Support for Schedule EIC (Earned Income Tax Credit). If you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, you need to complete Schedule EIC with this plan.
- Support for Itemized Deductions (Schedule A). If you wish to itemize your tax deductions, which include the mortgage interest tax deduction, you need to complete Schedule A – which is supported by this plan.
- Free Audit Support. TaxPoint’s Audit Support feature makes TaxPoint staff available to answer questions, interpret correspondence, and provide guidance (including instructions on answering correspondence and paying any penalties or back taxes) related to an IRS audit. It’s important to note that, under Audit Support, TaxPoint doesn’t actually represent you in the event that you’re audited. The company simply helps you understand and approach the audit process. Also, TaxPoint’s free Audit Support doesn’t include any support for state audits.
3. Home & Business Edition
The Home & Business Edition costs $34.95 (discounted from $39.95 – again, seemingly forever) for your federal return and $24.95 for each state return. It’s ideal for tax situations of virtually any complexity, including self-employment income, capital gains or losses from business activities or property sales, farming and rental property income, investing activities, and more.
The Home & Business Edition includes all the features of the lower-priced plans, plus:
- Support for 1099-MISC Income. If you worked as a freelancer or contract employee in addition to your regular job during the tax year, you may not qualify as self-employed, but may still be required to pay taxes on your miscellaneous income (indicated on Form 1099-MISC).
- Support for Self-Employed Filers and Small Business Owners. If you earn substantial income through contract or freelance work, you may qualify as self-employed and be subject to self-employment tax. Likewise, if you own your own business, you can report your profit or loss, plus account for depreciation and business tax deductions and credits, using this plan.
- Support for Investors. If you earned income or sustained a loss from investing activities, including sale of stock, bonds, and mutual funds, you need to file Schedule D – which is supported by this plan. Likewise, if you earned more than $1,500 from interest and/or ordinary dividends, you need to file Schedule D – also supported by this plan. (But, importantly, you can’t automatically import Schedule D).
- Support for Rental Property Owners & Farmers. If you earned income from rental property, you need to file Schedule E. If you earned income from farming activities, you need to file Schedule F. Both are supported by this plan.
- Document Organizer & Storage. All TaxPoint customers have access to a free cloud storage system for organizing and storing relevant documents, such as income statements and receipts for charitable donations, throughout the year. You can store up to 200 MB in your personal file.
- Maximum Refund Guarantee. TaxPoint has a customary maximum refund guarantee that covers your state and federal returns. If you receive a larger state or federal refund (or incur a smaller state or federal tax liability) through a competing service, TaxPoint refunds your entire tax prep charge.
- Pay With Your Refund. TaxPoint lets you pay your filing fees with your IRS refund, if you’re entitled to receive one. This option carries a $34.95 service charge, regardless of your selected plan.
- Audit Protection Guarantee. TaxPoint’s Audit Protection Guarantee package authorizes TaxPoint tax experts to correspond and negotiate with the IRS and state tax authorities on your behalf. Once purchased, it covers your return for as long as it can be audited under applicable state or federal law. This package costs $39.95.
- TaxPoint Rewards. TaxPoint Rewards is an in-house rewards program through which you can earn points for completing everyday tasks, including following TaxPoint on Twitter (50 points), completing your return (200 points), and referring friends (150 points each). You can redeem points for gift cards from major retailers, such as Amazon and Best Buy. Points are worth just under $0.01 apiece for most redemptions – for example, $5 gift cards cost 525 points.
- Tax University. Tax University is a question-and-answer service through which TaxPoint users can ask questions related to the software and general tax issues. Questions can be answered by TaxPoint staffers (including the company’s tax experts) or by other TaxPoint members, though TaxPoint staff monitors user-generated content to ensure that it’s on-topic and appropriate for public display.
- TaxPoint Knowledge Base. TaxPoint’s Knowledge Base is basically a glossary of terms and short how-to tutorials covering common tax topics and issues related to the TaxPoint software. Unlike Tax University, there’s no user-generated component here.
- Refund Estimator. This is basically a miniature tax return that you don’t have to pay to prepare. Using information that you enter about your income and life situation, it provides a non-binding estimate of your actual IRS refund. It’s free to use and doesn’t require an account to try.
- Mobile App. TaxPoint has a free Android mobile app with most of the desktop version’s capabilities. Importantly, it doesn’t have an iOS app, so iPhone users need to stick with the desktop version.
1. Reasonable Pricing Overall
TaxPoint is reasonably priced relative to the competition. Its most expensive plan costs $34.95 for your federal return and $24.95 for your state return, for a total cost (assuming one federal and one state return) of $59.90. Compare that to high-priced TurboTax, whose most expensive version costs $104.99 for your federal return and $39.99 per state return, for a total cost of $144.98.
2. Simple Plan & Pricing Structure
TaxPoint has a super simple plan and pricing structure. It’s easy to figure out at a glance which plan is right for you: Federal Free is best for taxpayers with super-simple situations, Deluxe is ideal for people who wish to itemize their deductions, and Home & Business is appropriate for everyone else. Most people who begin using TaxPoint immediately know which plan is right for them, and therefore don’t have to upgrade midway through the preparation process.
Other tax prep programs, such as Jackson Hewitt Online and TurboTax, have more pricing tiers and less logically distributed capabilities. The result: It’s harder to tell upfront which plan is appropriate for your needs. I’ve been preparing my taxes for more than a decade, and I still chose the wrong Jackson Hewitt Online plan this year due to a lack of clarity in the service’s advertised inclusions.
3. Fluent, Expert Bilingual Support
TaxPoint is one of the few online tax prep services that openly advertises its bilingual support staff, which includes fluent accounting professionals and tax experts. This is a huge advantage for the millions of Spanish-speaking taxpayers who need to file their taxes, but don’t want to pay hefty fees to work in-person with Spanish-speaking accountants or tax preparers.
4. Great Deal for Active Duty Military Filers
TaxPoint has an incredible deal for active duty military filers: 100% free filing, regardless of plan selection. That’s the most generous military benefit I’ve ever seen in the online tax prep world. It’s much more common to see across-the-board discounts or free upgrades from the lowest-priced to second lowest-priced plans. If you’re currently serving in the military, TaxPoint should be at or near the top of your online tax prep option list.
5. Maximum Refund & Accuracy Guarantees Cover State Taxes Too
TaxPoint’s maximum refund and accuracy guarantees cover state and federal taxes, ensuring peace of mind. With TaxPoint, you simply never have to worry about paying for a state- or IRS-imposed penalty or fee attributable to a software calculation error, nor for paying your filing fees if you don’t receive your maximum state or federal refund.
Though virtually all TaxPoint competitors offer a federal maximum refund guarantee, some don’t extend this benefit to state returns. Likewise, many competitors don’t guarantee the accuracy of their state calculations – if their software makes an error when calculating state tax liabilities and leaves taxpayers on the hook for state penalties and fees, they don’t provide financial redress.
6. All Forms of Technical Support & Expert Service Available at All Price Points
TaxPoint’s entire customer service arsenal, including technical support and tax expert consultation, is available to every customer – regardless of plan level. This is a big drawback relative to TurboTax, whose lowest-priced plan doesn’t include tax expert support.
7. Prior Year Return Importing/Transfer at All Price Points
TaxPoint allows you to transfer your prior year return information (from TaxPoint) or import a prior year return (from other tax prep programs) at all price points, including Federal Free. This is a huge time-saver for taxpayers who don’t want to re-enter basic information again.
1. Questionable Security Flaws
TaxPoint has at least one odd security flaw that could give identity-conscious tax filers pause. I encountered this issue when I attempted to sign into my TaxPoint account after several days away from the software. I clicked “Sign In” and expected a prompt to enter my login information. Instead, I was simply taken to my account’s home screen. This was puzzling, as I’d only signed into my account once or twice before and hadn’t checked a “remember me on this computer” box. While there was no harm done on my home computer, this is certainly a troubling flaw for people who prepare their tax returns on public (such as a workplace) or semi-public (such as an apartment with roommates) networks.
2. Help Content Isn’t Always Helpful
TaxPoint’s main help resources, Tax University and the TaxPoint Knowledge Base, aren’t particularly comprehensive or easy to use. In both resources, the search feature is poor. It doesn’t appear to recognize natural language search and often returns tangential or outright irrelevant results. Also, important topics appear to be missing. There’s very little information about importing, for instance – a major oversight, given how basic and common importing is.
While TaxPoint’s help content problems are partly because it is new and the help resources haven’t been built out yet, that’s little comfort to inexperienced filers struggling to find answers to common questions. TurboTax and TaxAct have much better tax help resources overall.
3. No Free State Option
TaxPoint doesn’t have a free state filing option – you always have to pay $24.95 per state return, even when you select the Federal Free plan and pay nothing for your federal taxes. For budget-conscious filers, this is a big drawback relative to competitors such as Jackson Hewitt, TaxAct, TaxHub, and TurboTax, all of which offer at least one plan with free state returns.
4. No Automatic 1099 Importing
TaxPoint doesn’t support automatic 1099 importing. Instead, it requires a manual entry for each 1099. This is a major drawback for taxpayers with lots of miscellaneous income sources, securities transactions, and other income or losses that need to be reported via 1099. Entering 1099 data, particularly when it involves lots of individual securities transactions, can be an incredibly time-consuming, error-prone process. Competitors such as H&R Block offer automatic 1099 importing, dramatically shortening and error-proofing this part of the tax prep journey.
5. Paying with Your Refund Is Expensive
It’s nice that TaxPoint lets you pay its tax prep fees with your refund. Unfortunately, it charges $34.99 for the privilege – about twice what TaxAct and TaxHub charge.
6. Limited Phone/Chat Support Hours
TaxPoint’s phone and live chat support hours are limited. Live chat is available 12 hours per day, seven days a week, while phone support is only available during regular business hours (Central Time) on weekdays. This is inconvenient for people preparing their tax returns after hours, particularly on the West Coast. By contrast, H&R Block’s chat support is available around the clock during the tax season.
7. No iOS App
TaxPoint doesn’t have an iOS mobile app. That’s a problem for iPhone users who want to be able to prepare their taxes on the go. Though TaxPoint’s website is pretty mobile-friendly, it’s not clear that you’d want to prepare your entire return (particularly if it’s complicated) on your phone. It’s not clear when (or whether) TaxPoint plans to launch a mobile app.
8. Slow Website Speeds
TaxPoint has one other functionality issue worth noting: long load times. This issue was consistent across several visits to the site, so it’s not likely attributable to scheduled maintenance or temporary server issues. I’ve experienced such issues only intermittently with other tax prep websites, and the problem appears to have gotten worse in 2017 (for the 2016 tax year). Whether TaxPoint’s slow speeds are enough to scare you away is probably a matter of personal preference. Given the service’s many positive aspects, I don’t personally think it’s a fatal flaw.
TaxPoint is a solid tax prep option. Although it’s not as novice-friendly as TurboTax, it’s intuitive to use and has credentialed tax experts (who speak English and Spanish) on staff. It’s also far cheaper than TurboTax, not to mention in-person tax prep options such as Liberty Tax Service and full-service online providers such as TaxHub.
While it’s far from perfect, no online tax preparation program is. Give this relative newcomer a try. If you decide it’s not for you, you won’t be on the hook – and there are plenty of other tax prep fish in the sea.
For more options, check out our full list of Top-Rated Free Online Tax Preparation Services.