TaxSlayer review

Slay your taxes with online software

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Image Credit: TaxSlayer

Our Verdict

TaxSlayer takes a multitier approach by offering a variety of packages to suit different tax needs. While the cost is affordable across the board, be sure to factor in the additional cost of the state package.

For

  • Free tier
  • Affordable pricing
  • Import prior year data

Against

  • Additional charge for state on paid tiers
  • Less guidance

While TaxSlayer may not be the dominant player in tax software, they are hardly a newcomer to the arena of tax returns, making the promise to “Slay your taxes.” 

In fact, the company can trace its origins back to 1965 with a family owned income tax preparation business. The company then developed software for their own use as early as 1989, and by 1993 were marketing it to others, named after their president’ email address, as ‘TaxSlayer Pro.’ TaxSlayer now focuses exclusively on their software, and are headquartered in Evans, Georgia.

Pricing

TaxSlayer offers a wide range of plans to fit all of your specific tax needs (Image Credit: TaxSlayer)

Pricing

TaxSlayer offers a variety of plans. They run the gamut of a free tier for the simpler of returns, to full featured plans, and offerings covering needs in between.

At the low end is the aforementioned free tier, designated as ‘Simply Free.’ Even at the bottom end of the cost scale, there are still plenty of features, such as the option to print or e-file both a federal and state return. Also, this supports a full 1040 federal return, as the IRS no longers the option of a 1040EZ for simple filings. There are also options to upload last year’s return to import the data for better accuracy, and even free support via email and phone- seriously, every free service should be this good.

Moving up a notch goes to the ‘Classic’ tier, which is their most popular plan. This includes all the features of the free plan, but also adds access to every tax form without restriction, notably the Schedule A to itemize, and therefore maximize deductions. In addition, wage and salary containing W-2’s can be uploaded to autofill for ease and accuracy. Also included is assistance with IRS inquiries, to resolve any issues for up to 1 year after e-filing the return. This tier costs $17 (about £13), although unfortunately it does not include the state return, but is available for an additional cost of $29 (about £22). For those wearing the uniform, there is also TaxSlayer Military, which allows active duty troops to file their taxes using the Classic tier for free.

More complicated tax situations can benefit from the ‘Premium’ tier, that costs $37 (about £28). This provides a longer duration of support with IRS inquiries, bringing it up to a full 3 years, which is the time window that the IRS can initiate an audit. Additional support is provided with the email and phone bumped up to priority support, the option of live chat, and also “Ask a Tax Pro” for answers to the most vexing of tax questions. The state return is available for an additional cost.

For those working for themselves, the next higher tier is focused on their needs, known as ‘Self-Employed,’ and costs $47 (about £36). Tailored features include a self-employed deduction finder, access to tax professionals with expertise in self-employment situations, and a Guide to Self-Employed Taxes.

At the pinnacle of the tiers is the ‘Ultimate,’ that can be had for $57 (about £44). Giving that extra ‘peace of mind,’ is ‘front-of-the-line’ support, and a Guide to Tax Reform. Additionally, there is IRS audit defense and representation for a full 3 years after filing. Sweetening the deal is included identity theft restoration, but even this highest tier does not include the state.

Refund Calculator

TaxSlayer's refund calculator can give you a good indication of how much you'll get back from the IRS (Image Credit: TaxSlayer)

Features

TaxSlayer is online software, that gets used via a browser window. While the downside compared to a program that is downloaded is that your personal tax data gets put online, the plus is that there is no program to update continuously as the tax season progresses, as TaxSlayer hosts the program, and keeps it constantly updated on its server. Thankfully, TaxSlayer has multiple layers of security to keep user’s tax data private, including complex password requirements, single-use verification codes for two factor authentication and a dedicated security team.

Back when folks did their tax returns on pen and paper, just collecting all the requisite forms became an arduous task, not to mention making a mistake and needing another copy of the form. With TaxSlayer, all the tax forms are conveniently contained within the program. However, rather than having to enter information directly on the form, many of them get prepopulated by pulling information from your W-2 forms, and last year’s return. Other info gets entered by the user via the interview, that is as easy and natural a process as answering the questions of a seasoned accountant.

With all the data entered, now the return can be reviewed via the tax forms to see what is actually going to be sent to the tax authorities. There are also summaries available to show your total income, tax paid, and (hopefully) the refund due. Skip the printing and mailing, as TaxSlayer makes it simple to e-File, which transmits your tax return for confirmation of receipt, and faster access to your refund. There is also the option to have your return as a PDF, which is useful for those that wish to print their return, or to save a copy electronically in a file format that will be readable for many years to come.

Limitations of TaxSlayer include that the interview process is simplified, and there is less guidance than some more fully featured competitors. Also, it does not have the robust error checking that some other programs have, leaving the potential to miss some issues.

Final verdict

While filling out your taxes is a pain, TaxSlayer does ease the burden. Choose the plan that suits you, and be rewarded with access to all the needed IRS forms, and plenty of support including access to Tax Guides, and online help, and even IRS Audit Defense if needed. Just remember that it will be an extra charge for the state return which drives up the cost of this otherwise bargain tax software.