What Is Jackson Hewitt?
Founded in 1982, Jackson Hewitt bills itself as the second-largest in-person full-service tax preparation company in the United States. With its 6,000 locations all over the country, it gives taxpayers the ability to file in-store with the assistance of a tax professional. Through this, millions of returns have been filed with Jackson Hewitt.
And with the introduction of its online filing options, these numbers keep growing. Based in Jersey City, New Jersey, the Jackson Hewitt mission is get the most out of your money through efficient filing. It guarantees maximum refunds and 100% accuracy, standing by its work with full confidence, and offers different filing options fit for different customers.
Jackson Hewitt’s Filing Options
Jackson Hewitt offers three online filing options: one that’s free and two that are paid. The two paid options cost $34.95 and $54.95, depending on which option you choose (plus $36.95 to file a state return). These are all targeted toward different users, whether you’re a homeowner or self-employed. The company prides itself on making its services fast, easy and accurate.
All three options come with step-by-step instructions, so if you’re a first-time filer, you’ll have some guidance throughout the process. You also have a comprehensive tax database to refer to if you’re lost. And with unlimited email and chat support, you should be able to get any help you may need.
There are also Jackson Hewitt guarantees with each option. It has a maximum refund guarantee to ensure that you get the most out of your tax return. There’s also a 100%-accuracy guarantee – if there’s a mistake on your return, it’ll pay the penalties and interest incurred.
The Free Option
The free option is best fit for those with simple and easy returns. Federal and state returns are both free to file. Unlike years past, this option is now compatible with all state returns. However you can only file Form 1040EZ with federal filing. This option also allows you to report your W-2 income, interest income and all unemployment income.
In addition, you have access to numerous features to make tax filing easier. You’re able to import last year’s tax return no matter where you filed it, whether it’s Jackson Hewitt or another tax service like TurboTax, TaxAct or H&R Block. This makes the tax filing process quicker since some information is already filled out. And with the ability to save and access your return at a later point, you can go at your own pace. Plus, if you get stuck, there’s unlimited email and live chat customer support.
The $34.95 Option
This option is fit for families and homeowners. According to Jackson Hewitt, this is also the best option for retirees, though it’s unclear if this option offers any particular benefits for retirees. It costs $34.95 for federal filing and $36.95 for state filing.
This option gives you access to more forms. In particular, you can report student loan interest, simple self-employment income (Schedule C-EZ) and the earned income credit, whether or not you have children.
The $54.95 Option
This Jackson Hewitt’s most advanced option. It’s the best filing option for investors, self-employed individuals and filers with complex returns. However, this is also the option you should choose if you want to itemize your deductions. This option costs $54.95 for federal filing and $39.95 for state filing.
It comes with all the previous features, plus access to additional forms. You’re able to report mortgage interest, property taxes, information about dependents and any investments, including retirement, stocks and bonds.
If you don’t want to e-file, Jackson Hewitt also gives you the option to file in-store. With 6,000 tax preparation offices in the country, you can do your taxes at one of those local offices. In-store filing includes federal and state tax preparation and audit assistance. Jackson Hewitt also offers prior-year review to make sure that no potential deductions from the previous years are missing.
You work with tax professionals who are familiar with the tax code and law changes. They’ll discuss your personal situation with you and help you get the biggest refund possible.
Refund and Payment Options
Jackson Hewitt allows you to pay for its services with a credit card or debit card. You can also use your refund to pay the fees, but it does come at an extra charge.
When it comes to receiving your tax refund, you have multiple options. You can directly deposit the refund into a bank account or receive it in the mail as a paper check. Jackson Hewitt also offers Assisted Refund, which deposits your refund into a temporary bank account. From this account, it’ll be disbursed to you in a variety of methods, whether it’s a checking account, savings account, debit card or all three. Jackson Hewitt also allows you to put the refund on an American Express Serve Card.
Online Tools and Resources
Jackson Hewitt’s website offers numerous resources to help you navigate tax season. Its website breaks down specific forms, like retirement and real estate property, and explains what they mean and what information you need to provide. This helps you get a better understanding of the entire process if you’re a first-time filer.
Jackson Hewitt also shares tax tips. Plus, they have specific information on topics like overlooked deductions and how healthcare affects taxes. There’s also a section about how life events affect your taxes.
Jackson Hewitt offers both Audit Assistance and the Audit Security Gold Guarantee. With Audit Assistance, Jackson Hewitt will appear at the audit with you to explain how the tax return was prepared. But it can’t act as your legal counsel or financial advisor.
The Audit Security Gold Guarantee gives you more audit support. If you’re ever audited after filing a return with the service, it’ll help you navigate through the process. It handles all IRS correspondence, document preparation and audit expenses, which includes travel to an in-person audit. But this Audit Security Gold Guarantee isn’t automatically included with any filing option – it comes at an extra price.
|Free||Federal: $0 State: $0||Best for simple and easy returns; Comes with free 1040EZ filing, unlimited live chat, easy tax return import|
|Paid||Federal: $34.95 State: $36.95||Best for families and homeowners; Comes with all previous features, plus ability to report dependents, mortgage interest, student loan interest, simple self-employment income and earned income credit (with or without dependents)|
|Paid||Federal: $54.95 State: $36.95||Best for investors, self-employed and complex returns; Comes with all previous features, plus phone support, maximized deductions and ability to itemize deductions, report full self-employment income property taxes and investment income|
Jackson Hewitt’s prices aren’t the most affordable, but they also aren’t the most expensive in the market. The different options are fit for different users based on their filing status and financial situation. Most of the features remain the same between the options - the biggest difference is the forms available with each plan. So if you need to access a certain form, you’ll have to use that option in order to access it. This can become expensive quickly.
Who Jackson Hewitt Is For
With its different options, Jackson Hewitt is fit for a variety of users. Its filing options target people in different stages of their financial lives, whether you’re married, starting a family or a homeowner. Different financial needs means the need for different tax forms to fill out and that’s where Jackson Hewitt is helpful. It offers the specific forms you need for your situation with each option, so you’ll know the information you need to provide.
Jackson Hewitt also comes with many online resources and tips, which makes it a good option for first-time filers. Plus, you get unlimited live chat and email support so you’re connected to a professional if you have any questions. Its website is user-friendly, as well, making it easy to navigate through the filing process.
What’s the Catch?
Jackson Hewitt isn’t the most affordable option out there. Other services offer similar features at a lower price. Plus, if your tax situation requires a tier upgrade because the form you need isn’t offered at a less expensive one, it can become very expensive quickly. Just itemizing your deductions will mean you need to use the most expensive filing option.
In addition, the Jackson Hewitt website is vague about how each option is best for its targeted users. Besides the fact that the different options come with the different forms, Jackson Hewitt doesn’t offer any additional features or benefits for different plans and the price jump among plans is fairly steep.
How Jackson Hewitt Stacks Up
Jackson Hewitt’s prices and options are on-par with other high-end tax planning services. But some of those other tax planners offer more features at the same price.
|Tax Planner||Plans Offered||Costs (Federal)||Costs (State)|
|Jackson Hewitt||Free, Paid||Free: $0 Paid: $34.95 Paid: $54.95||Free: $0 Paid: $36.95 Paid: $36.95|
|TurboTax||Absolute Zero, Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live||Free: $0, Deluxe: $39.99, Premier: $59.99, Self-Employed: $89.99, TurboTax Live: $149.99||Free: $0, Deluxe: $36.99, Premier: $36.99, Self-Employed: $36.99, TurboTax Live: $36.99|
|H&R Block||More Zero, Deluxe, Premium, Self-Employed||More Zero: $0, Deluxe: $34.99, Premium: $54.99, Self-Employed: $74.99||More Zero: $0, Deluxe: $36.99, Premium: $36.99 Self-Employed: $36.99|
TurboTax is one of the most popular tax planning services in the field. Its prices are similar to Jackson Hewitt and it offers some of the same features, like easy import and accessible customer support. However TurboTax offers more guidance throughout the filing process. It has refund breakdowns, which explain why your refund fluctuates with different factors. Its Self-Employed option is also clear about why it’s the best option for self-employed individuals – besides the forms available, it also offers tools to help track business expenses. It aims to maximize both personal and business refunds.
For the 2017 tax season, TurboTax reduced state filing to $36.99. The federal filing cost also reduced by $20 for each filing option. That makes the prices $39.99 for Deluxe, $59.99 for Premier, $89.99 for Self-Employed and $149.99 for TurboTax Live. It also offers the Absolute Zero option, which allows you to file state returns, 1040EZ and 1040A for free.
H&R Block is also a popular tax planning service. Like Jackson Hewitt, it has brick-and-mortar stores around the country so you’re able to file your tax returns in-person. Both companies have very similar prices. H&R Block has one additional filing option but the three cheapest options are all only 5 cents more than Jackson Hewitt’s prices. H&R Block also has an additional, more expensive filing option. However H&R Block’s free option allows you to file Forms 1040, 1040EZ and 1040 with Schedule A (for itemizing deduction). Meanwhile, Jackson Hewitt limits its free option to only a 1040EZ and itemizing requires you to get the most expensive plan. H&R Block also has more tools, like refund reveal and accurate cost basis for investments.
For the 2017 tax season, H&R Block has discounted all of its online federal filing options $20. Plus, if you put your refund on an Amazon gift card, you get a 5% bonus.
Bottom Line: Should You Use Jackson Hewitt?
Jackson Hewitt is a tax planning service that not only allows you file online but at its stores, as well. This gives you extra convenience during tax season and gets you the help you need. Plus, with its different filing options, one is bound to fit your financial situation, whether you’re married or self-employed. And if you need any help, there’s unlimited email and chat support included.
The drawback to Jackson Hewitt is that many of its competitors offer similar prices but with more features. Though Jackson Hewitt’s filing options target different users, they all have the same features. That means that none of the features are specific to the needs of those taxpayers, so it may not be the most helpful.