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Jackson Hewitt Review

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Jackson Hewitt
Our Rating: 2.5/5
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Founded in 1982, Jackson Hewitt bills itself as the second-largest assisted tax preparation service in the United States. With its 6,000 locations across the country, it gives taxpayers the ability to file your tax return 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 to help you 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 gives you free federal filing and two paid options. The two paid options cost $29.99 and $49.99, depending on which option you choose, plus $36.95 to file a state return. Which plan you choose will depend on your tax situation because each plan offers forms that certain types of filers need. For example, if you have self-employed income, you’ll probably need to use the $49.99 option.

All three options come with step-by-step instructions, so if you’re a first-time filer, you’ll have some guidance through the process. You also have access to Jackson Hewitt’s online tax-help database to refer to if you have a question. And you have unlimited email and chat support, should you have an issue with the software.

To give you further peace of mind, Jackson Hewitt provides an accuracy and maximum refund guarantee. So if there is a mistake on your return that’s the result of Jackson Hewitt’s services, the company will pay any penalties and interest resulting from the mistake. The maximum refund guarantee will refund your filing costs if you file with a competitor and you get a bigger return or owe less on your return.

The Free Option

The free option from Jackson Hewitt lets you file simple federal returns and all state returns for free. This option could work for you if you are single or married with no dependents, have less than $100,000 of income, have only W-2 income and take the standard deduction. You can also report interest income you have, such as from a high-interest savings account, and unemployment income. One of the few credits or deductions available with the free option is the earned income credit.

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. This makes the process quicker since some of your 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. As mentioned above, you also get Jackson Hewitt’s unlimited email and live chat customer support.

The $29.99 Option

This option is a good 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. A number of deductions that the average filer will need are included with this filing option. If you have children or other dependents, you can file with this option. It costs $29.99 for federal filing and $36.95 for state filing.

The $49.99 Option

This is Jackson Hewitt’s most advanced (and most expensive) option. It costs $49.99 to file your federal return and $36.95 per state return.

You will need to use this option if you have income over $100,000 or if you have self-employment income (i.e income reported on something other than a W-2). This is also the best filing option for you if you have rental property or if you need to itemize your deductions. The other two options do not allow you to report mortgage interest or information about investments, including retirement accounts, stocks and bonds.

In-Store Filing

If you don’t want to e-file, or you just want to work with a professional in person, Jackson Hewitt has about 6,000 physical locations you can visit. You will work with tax professionals who are familiar with the tax code and recent law changes. They’ll discuss your personal situation with you and help you get the biggest refund possible. In-store filing includes federal and state tax preparation plus audit assistance. Jackson Hewitt also offers prior-year review to make sure that you didn’t miss any deductions in previous years. 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, at no additional cost. Jackson Hewitt also allows you to put the refund on an American Express Serve Card.

If you need your refund quickly, Jackson Hewitt may offer you a refund advance. With an advance, you will get a loan that covers your expected refund amount. There are two refund advance options. The no fee advance gives you up to $3,500 (based on the amount of your review) when you file. Then your refund will go from the IRS right to Jackson Hewitt. If you need more than your refund amount, you can get a loan of between $1000 and $7000. This loan has an APR of 35.9%. This is quite high compared to other personal loan rates; only use this option if you urgently need the money, you can’t find a lower rate and you intend to pay it off as soon as you receive your refund.

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Online Tools and Resources

Jackson Hewitt’s website offers numerous resources to help you navigate tax season. Its website breaks down specific forms, like those related to retirement and real estate property. There are explanations of what forms mean and what information you need to provide. This can help you get a better understanding of the entire process if you’re a first-time filer. There is also specific information on topics like overlooked deductions, as well as how healthcare issues and life events affect your taxes.

Pricing 

Filing Options Costs Features
Free Federal: $0 State: $0 Best for simple and easy returns; Comes with free 1040 filing, unlimited live chat, easy tax return import
Paid Federal: $29.99 State: $36.95 Best for filers with dependents and retirees; Comes with all previous features, plus ability to report dependents, student loan interest and the child tax credit
Paid Federal: $49.99 State: $36.95 Necessary for investors, self-employed filers, those itemizing expenses and other filers with complex returns; Comes with all previous features, plus more forms and deductions

Jackson Hewitt’s prices are fairly average for the tax software space. The different options are fit for different users based on their filing status and financial situation. Features remain largely the same between the filing options. The biggest difference is which forms you have access to.

Who Jackson Hewitt Is For

One thing of note with Jackson Hewitt’s services is that the free filing option allows you to file multiple state returns for free. Some other services only include one state for free with their free filing option. If you need to file multiple state returns, you may want to consider Jackson Hewitt (though note that it's not the only service to offer multiple state returns for free).

Self-employed filers will generally need to upgrade to the most expensive filing option with any filing service. Some other services will charge more for their most expensive option. However, there is a tradeoff to consider because other services may include features tailored to you, such as help calculating estimated taxes. If you feel comfortable filing on your own and don’t mind doing some research should questions arise, then using Jackson Hewitt could help you save money.

Another reason you may want to use Jackson Hewitt is if you want to file in-person with an expert. Because Jackson Hewitt has physical stores, you can talk face-to-face with someone to go over questions or concerns you may have.

What’s the Catch?

Jackson Hewitt isn’t the most affordable option out there. For instance, you have to upgrade to the $49.99 option if you want to itemize deductions; by contrast, some other services allow you to itemize for less while also offering more extra features.

In general, Jackson Hewitt does not offer many extra features. There is educational material and online support, but that’s about it. Other services provide this plus tools and calculators for things like calculating loans and interest. You also cannot get help from a tax expert with Jackson Hewitt unless you file in-person. Audit support is another example of a common feature that you can find elsewhere. You cannot get hands-on audit support from Jackson Hewitt unless you file in-person. The filing options from other companies include more help with audits as part of their e-filing options.

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: $29.99 Paid: $49.99 Free: $0 Paid: $36.95 Paid: $36.95
TurboTax Free, Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed Free: $0, Deluxe: $39.99, Premier: $59.99, Self-Employed: $89.99 Free: $0, Deluxe: $39.99, Premier: $39.99, Self-Employed: $39.99
H&R Block Free, Deluxe, Premium, Self-Employed Free: $0, Deluxe: $29.99, Premium: $49.99, Self-Employed: $79.99 Free: $0, Deluxe: $36.99, Premium: $36.99 Self-Employed: $36.99

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. 

TurboTax is one of the most popular tax planning services in the field. Its prices are a bit higher than Jackson Hewitt but it offers more guidance throughout the filing process. It has refund breakdowns, which explain why your refund fluctuates with different factors. For an additional fee, you can also work with a tax professional. The filing options from TurboTax are also more clearly for filers in certain situations. For example, The Self-Employed option provides a calculator for your estimated taxes and help with tracking business expenses throughout the year.

H&R Block is also a popular tax planning service. Like Jackson Hewitt, it has brick-and-mortar stores around the country so you can file your tax returns in-person. Both companies have similar prices except that H&R Block’s most expensive option, which provides forms for self-employed filers, is more expensive. Overall, H&R Block has a very user-friendly service and makes it easy to get through tax time. The educational materials are good and there are extra features like better audit support and a W-4 (tax withholding) calculator.

Bottom Line: Should You Use Jackson Hewitt?

Jackson Hewitt is a tax planning service that allows you file online or at one of its stores. The ability to file in-person is worth considering if you want extra guidance through the tax process. This could be you if your taxes have changed greatly since last year or if you just don’t know much about taxes and have a lot of questions.

The online filing options are slightly more expensive than some other services, and provide fewer extra features than similarly priced services. The free option is truly free, but again, there are fewer features with Jackson Hewitt than you might get with other filing services, such as TurboTax, H&R Block or even TaxAct (a service known for its no-nonsense approach).

You may want to consider Jackson Hewitt if your taxes are bit more complex (and thus require you to upgrade to the most expensive option) but you still feel knowledgeable and comfortable enough to file on your own. In this case, you can save money by choosing Jackson Hewitt because you don’t have to pay the extra price that other services charge for features you don’t want. However, people in this situation can still find cheaper services (like TaxSlayer).

Tips for Getting Through Tax Season

  • Get your maximum refund, guaranteed with TurboTax.
  • If you’re unsure how to file your taxes, consider talking to a financial advisor who specializes in taxes. An advisor who is savvy about the intricacies of the tax code will be able to help you navigate tax season and maximize your refund. An advisor can also help you prepare for following year so that your next tax filing is as easy as possible
  • If you’re relying on your tax refund each year, you may have room to change your tax withholding. By claiming more allowances on your W-4, you decrease how much money your employer removes (withholds) from your paychecks. That means more take home pay and perhaps less reliance on your refund. You may also want to check out this paycheck tax calculator so that you understand how much your employer is supposed to withhold.
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