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TaxSlayer Review 2022 – Free Tax Filing & Online Return Preparation


FEATURED PROMOTION

Taxslayer Logo

Our rating

4.1/5

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer Pros

  • Very affordable paid plans
  • Helpful guided wizard
  • Accuracy guarantee for state and federal

TaxSlayer Cons

  • Limited audit assistance
  • Limited customer support
  • No refund bonus

TaxSlayer doesn’t blow competition like TurboTax and H&R Block out of the water, but it’s superior in several crucial ways. Most notably, it’s cheaper than many better-known alternatives. If cost is a critical consideration in choosing an online tax prep program, that’s a huge selling point.

Regardless of your selected plan, TaxSlayer is quite flexible. It allows you to complete the required forms and schedules with minimal guidance or with the help of a guided wizard that emulates more hands-on programs like H&R Block and TurboTax if you prefer. 

Importantly, TaxSlayer one-ups many competitors’ accuracy guarantees, which often apply only to federal returns. But there’s a lot more to know about this discount tax prep program.


TaxSlayer Plans & Pricing

TaxSlayer offers four tax preparation plans: Simply Free, Classic, Premium, and Self-Employed. It also provides a separate Military package for active-duty filers.

As a new TaxSlayer filer, you must choose your package when you begin the filing process. If you attempt to do something the plan doesn’t support, the software prompts you to upgrade.

Final pricing is set when you e-file and is subject to change without notice as tax season wears on, so your initial quote might rise by the time you complete your return. Plan accordingly.

Simply Free

This plan provides your federal return and your first state return for free. Each subsequent state return costs $36.95.

Simply Free is inappropriate for freelancers, small-business owners, solopreneurs, or those who earn foreign income. It does make allowances for common situations like reporting student loan interest and education expenses. 

But Simply Free lacks many of the support features and useful functions of higher-priced plans, so it may not be ideal for tax-filing novices or those who wish to complete their returns as quickly and smoothly as possible.

That said, for experienced filers or those who have straightforward returns, several notable features make this plan a solid choice.

  • Prior-Year PDF Importing. This plan allows you to import prior-year tax returns from other tax prep programs as long as they’re in a PDF format.
  • Deduction Finder. This plan has a handy deduction guide (Deduction Finder) that follows along with your return and prompts you to enter all applicable deductions, including commonly overlooked deductions.
  • Free Phone and Email Support. TaxSlayer provides complimentary phone and email support to all customers during tax season. Email support is definitely the preferred contact method. Expect a phone response during weekday business hours, with extended hours subject to change as tax season wears on. Emailed inquiries can take up to 72 hours to produce a response.
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee. All TaxSlayer plans come with a maximum refund guarantee. If you find that another tax prep company offers you a bigger refund (or smaller tax obligation) than TaxSlayer for an identical return, TaxSlayer will refund all your tax prep fees.
  • Accuracy Guarantee. TaxSlayer offers accuracy guarantees for both state and federal taxes. If you’re hit with a penalty or interest charge attributable to a TaxSlayer software calculation error, TaxSlayer refunds it without limit. 

Classic

This plan costs $17.95 for your federal tax return and $36.95 for each state tax return. It includes support for all major IRS tax forms, meaning it’s appropriate for tax situations of all complexities, including investors, rental property owners, and small-business owners.

TaxSlayer Classic also includes some features and functions unavailable with the free options, making it ideal for filers searching for a fast, smooth tax preparation option.

Classic comes with all the features of the free option, plus:

  • Prior-Year Importing and Comparisons. If you filed last year’s return with TaxSlayer, you can import data from it. As you fill out your return, the program shows you relevant entries, such as income, deductions, and credits, from the previous year, allowing you to judge the accuracy of your current-year entries.
  • W-2 Importing. You can import electronic W-2s in PDF format with this plan.
  • IRS Inquiry Assistance. This free service delivers answers to IRS-related questions, including help deciphering forms and requests for information. It extends up to one year after you file your return, but it doesn’t include audit assistance or full audit representation.

Premium

This plan costs $37.95 for your federal return and $36.95 for each state return. Its support features are significantly more robust than lower-priced plans, so it’s definitely a solid choice for novice filers or those who lack the confidence or knowledge to navigate a complicated situation on their own.

Premium includes all the features of lower-priced plans, plus:

  • Live Chat Support. Premium customers have access to a Web-based live chat feature that’s operational at the height of tax season (early January through Tax Day). It’s available during TaxSlayer’s posted phone support hours.
  • Priority Phone and Email Support. Premium customers also get priority support for emailed and called-in queries. Premium customers get pushed to the front of the line. That substantially reduces hold and wait times, though TaxSlayer doesn’t say by exactly how much.
  • Ask a Tax Pro. You can ask unlimited questions of TaxSlayer’s in-house tax professionals over the phone or by email, though it may take up to a day to get a response. It’s useful if you encounter an issue other help functions can’t resolve. But TaxSlayer stresses that all information is general and should not be construed as tax advice.
  • Free Federal Audit Assistance. TaxSlayer’s federal audit assistance package, which it claims is worth $29, is available to Premium customers at no extra charge for three years from your filing date. But it doesn’t include support for audits or other issues relating to Schedule C or K filings.

Self-Employed

This plan costs $47.95 for your federal tax return and $36.95 for each state tax return. Its support features are even more impressive than the Premium plan’s, with extra support and hand-holding for self-employed filers and solopreneurs.

Self-Employed includes everything in the Premium plan, plus:

  • Access to Self-Employment Tax Professionals. TaxSlayer’s self-employment tax professionals are distinct from its primary tax support team. If you have a question about your Schedule C filing or any uncertainty about business tax deductions, they can help.
  • Self-Employment Tax Tips and Reminders. This plan’s interface includes reminders and tips for self-employed filers. There’s no need to hunt for answers in the help database.

Additional Features of TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer has some features and functions available to all filers, regardless of plan level.

Guided Help as Needed

For all packages, TaxSlayer’s system offers you two choices. There’s a guided, interview-style wizard that walks you through the preparation process and a self-guided platform that lets you choose which forms and sections to complete and when. 

You can navigate between the wizard and the self-guided system at will, which is helpful if you’re confident enough to fill out some sections but feel you need assistance with others.

Pay Prep Fees With Your Refund

TaxSlayer allows all customers to deduct TaxSlayer’s prep fees, including those for state returns, from their federal income tax refunds. There’s an additional processing fee associated with this option. Go to TaxSlayer.com for details.

Refund Calculator

TaxSlayer has a pretty elaborate Web-based tax refund calculator that allows you to enter much of the information you’d include on your return — filing status, personal income, profit or loss from a business, standard or itemized deductions, and credits — and receive an estimate of your federal refund or the amount you owe. 

You can enter as much or as little as you like, but a complete accounting ensures a more accurate number. You don’t have to use TaxSlayer’s tax service to use this calculator, so it’s a convenient way to estimate your refund or tax obligation before you begin your return in earnest.

Mobile Apps & Functionality

TaxSlayer offers Android and iOS apps for download. These are functionally identical to the regular website and include value-added features, such as the on-site refund calculator. TaxSlayer’s regular website is already quite mobile-friendly, so while the app is a nice option to have, it’s not strictly necessary.

Knowledge Base

TaxSlayer has a well-maintained, searchable knowledge base with a comprehensive range of help topics.

Free Prep & Filing for Active Military Members

If you’re on active duty with a qualifying branch of the U.S. military, you can prep and file your federal tax return with TaxSlayer for free. There are no exceptions to this rule — it doesn’t matter how complicated your tax situation is.


Advantages of TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer’s most notable advantages are its affordability and convenient tools that help taxpayers customize their experience.

  • Paid Plans Are More Affordable Than Some Competitors. In addition to a comprehensive free option, TaxSlayer users enjoy moderately priced paid plans. The most expensive option, Self-Employed, charges around $50 for federal filing and less than $40 per state. Some competitors charge two to six times that amount.
  • Choose Between Guided Wizard and Self-Preparation. TaxSlayer has a flexible interface that lets you choose how you complete your return. Self-guided mode provides minimal support and guidance. But those who need help can take advantage of the guided wizard.
  • Powerful Refund Calculator. TaxSlayer’s refund calculator is quite comprehensive, almost like a mini-return you don’t have to pay for. If you want to get a preview of how big your refund or obligation will be, this feature is ideal. 
  • Strong Mobile Resources. TaxSlayer’s website and prep program are among the most mobile-friendly around. Its mobile apps are also quite powerful, with most of the features and functions of the regular website. 
  • Accuracy Guarantee Includes Federal and State Returns. TaxSlayer’s accuracy guarantee promises to reimburse filers for federal and state penalties and interest attributable to software calculation errors. Many competitors only offer accuracy guarantees on federal returns.

Disadvantages of TaxSlayer

While TaxSlayer provides a lot of bang for your buck, paying such low prices means living without certain perks you’d get from other tax preparation software providers.

  • No Audit Support for Lower-Priced Plans and Certain Filers. You must upgrade past the Simply Free plan to get free audit support.
  • No Refund Bonus. TaxSlayer doesn’t offer a refund bonus — you always receive the exact value of your federal refund, no more. By contrast, H&R Block offers a modest but welcome refund bonus when you agree to receive at least $100 as an Amazon gift card.
  • Customer Support Isn’t as Robust as Some Other Programs. Its free customer support system has restricted operating hours, no user-curated help center, and prioritizes Premium customers over others (who also don’t have access to online live chat).

How TaxSlayer Stacks Up

TaxSlayer is a lesser-known name in the online tax prep space. But it has many key features in common with H&R Block, a well-known competitor.

TaxSlayerH&R Block
Free PlanYes, for relatively simple situationsYes, for simple situations only
Expert AssistanceHelp as needed from tax pros but no full-service prep optionYes, assisted and full-service tax prep available for an additional charge
Pay With Your Refund?Yes, for an additional chargeYes, for an additional charge
Cost for Most Expensive Plan Starting at about $50 for federal and less than $40 per state returnStarting at about $85, plus about $40 per state return

Final Word

Few people enjoy preparing and filing their taxes, but not everyone has the same relationship with the IRS, state revenue authorities, and their tax preparer.

If your tax situation is straightforward, your highest priorities are likely to be filling out your return as quickly and cheaply as possible and maximizing your refund. If your situation is more complicated, avoiding an audit is likely a major concern.

Though TaxSlayer isn’t perfect, it offers opportunities for taxpayers at both ends of the spectrum, often at a lower cost than the competition. If you’ve been filing with a better-known program like H&R Block or TurboTax, it may be time to give TaxSlayer a closer look.

The Verdict

Taxslayer Logo

Our rating

4.1/5

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer Pros

  • Very affordable paid plans
  • Helpful guided wizard
  • Accuracy guarantee for state and federal

TaxSlayer Cons

  • Limited audit assistance
  • Limited customer support
  • No refund bonus
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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