In 1998, TaxSlayer.com was created by family business, Rhodes-Murphy & Co. Now with over 130 employees in its headquarters in Georgia, TaxSlayer is known as one of the most affordable tax planning services out there. The company goal is to create innovative and helpful tax preparation software. With millions of tax returns prepared with the service annually, it says it fulfills that mission by providing a remarkable customer experience.
With innovation and a good experience being at the forefront of TaxSlayer’s goals, the service strives to give customers great software and technical support come tax season. This dedication and its affordability makes TaxSlayer a good choice for tax preparation.
TaxSlayer’s Filing Options
TaxSlayer offers multiple different online filing options: Simply Free, Classic and Premium. All options are compatible with different devices, making it easy to file on either your laptop or your phone.
Each plan comes with TaxSlayer guarantees. TaxSlayer check your return for errors and missing data to ensure that everything is 100% accurate. If there are any mistakes, you’ll be reimbursed for the penalty and interest charges. It also guarantees that you receive the maximum refund available. If you find that you receive a higher refund with another tax preparation service, then TaxSlayer will refund the purchase price.
TaxSlayer allows you to file forms in two ways: Quick File or the traditional method. Quick File is fit for those with few forms and simple tax returns. You select the necessary forms and TaxSlayer automatically directs you to them to fill out. The traditional method is a more guided method and is fit for more complicated finances.
The Simply Free option is the most affordable option, with the ability to file a federal and state tax return at no charge. But you’re only able to file federal Form 1040EZ. Forms 1040A and 1040 are not compatible. You’re also only able to file one state return for free. Every return after that is $29 each. This means this option is more affordable and useful for those with simple tax returns.
You’re able to prepare, print and e-file your 1040EZ at no extra charge. To make filing faster, you can import past returns through a PDF, which fills out all the basic, unchanging information for you. There’s also a personal tax guide included as well, so you’re able to understand the process easier. It shares explanations that can help answer your questions and provide valuable tax insight.
With a step-by-step deduction guide, TaxSlayer shows how returns fluctuate based on different factors. There’s also a deduction finder to ensure that you get the most out of your return.
If you need any help during filing, you have access to free email and phone support. But this is limited to technical support – if you want access to a tax professional, you will need to upgrade to at least the Premium option.
The next option is TaxSlayer Classic. Federal filing is $24 and $29 per state. It covers all major forms, which makes it fit for a larger range of users. This includes Form 1040, 1040A, Schedule A, Schedule C and more. This is a step up from TaxSlayer Simply Free, which only offers 1040EZ. The Classic option also includes all the features of the free option.
Along with PDF import, you also have W-2 import to make the process even quicker. If you filed with TaxSlayer the previous year, you can also pull last year’s tax return information to fill in all the unchanging, basic information automatically. Like the Simply Free option, you have unlimited technical support over phone and email. You will need to upgrade for access to a tax professional.
The third option is TaxSlayer Premium. It costs $44 to file federal forms and $29 per state return. This plan offers the most features, including all features of the previous plans. You still have access to all major forms, but customer service is an improvement.
Along with unlimited technical support, you get priority support as well. You’re able to jump to the front of the support line for a quicker response. This is also the only plan that includes access to a tax professional without needing to pay extra. You’re able to ask specific questions to an expert and they’ll help you. Experts typically respond within one business day.
TaxSlayer Premium also gets you access to live chat support, which other plans don’t offer. Plus, you get audit assistance. This is when TaxSlayer connects you to a tax professional to assist you if you’re being audited.
The Self-Employed option from TaxSlayer is targeted toward contractors, freelancers and those with 1099s. It includes all the same features as the Premium option. Beyond that, not much information is provided for it. In the past, the first state return was discounted with the Self-Employed option, but that is no longer the case. State returns each cost the standard $29 and a federal return is $44.
Military Filing Option
TaxSlayer offers a military discount for active duty military personnel. Active duty military can file their federal returns for free using the Classic filing option. State returns are not free but only cost $15 per state return.
Return & Payment Options
You can pay your TaxSlayer preparation fees with a debit card or credit card. You can also use your federal return to cover the expenses, so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket. Before the refund is deposited into your bank account, the preparation fees will be subtracted from the refund.
The fastest way to receive your return is through direct deposit into a savings account or checking account. You can also get it as a check, but it’ll take longer. And for state refunds only, you can get it on a prepaid debit card.
Paid Add-On Features
If you find an error in your tax return after filing, TaxSlayer allows you to create and mail an amended tax return for $41.99. This is in the 1040X format and also applies to state returns.
Tax Audit Services
TaxSlayer automatically offers Audit Assistance for the Premium and Self-Employed options. It is not included if you’re using the Simply Free or Classic options.
If you’re being audited, TaxSlayer helps you prepare for the audit but it won’t represent you. You’re connected to a tax professional to get advice as you prepare. But Audit Assistance only applies to specific situations – it does not cover federal returns with forms Schedule C, Schedule K-1 or Form 2555.
Online Tax Tools and Information
TaxSlayer offers a variety of online tools to help you complete your return. These tools are easy-to-use and give you a better understanding of your tax situation. This includes a tax refund calculator, which estimates your refund by answering a few short questions. TaxSlayer also clearly lays out the tax law changes going into effect in the tax season.
|Simply Free||Federal: $0 State: $0 for first state return, $29 for additional||Can only file 1040EZ; Comes with free email and phone tech support, deduction finder, PDF import|
|Classic||Federal: $24 State: $29 per state||Supports all major forms; Comes with all free features, plus W-2 import, prior year import|
|Premium||Federal: $44 State: $29 per state||Supports all major forms; Comes with all previous features, plus audit assistance, access to tax professionals, priority support|
TaxSlayer offers numerous plans, all at affordable prices. Each plan comes with more features than the last. For example, the Simply Free option only lets you file form 1040EZ, which can be restrictive. But all major forms are accepted by both the Classic and Premium plan, without a big jump in price difference. This makes it easy to upgrade if you ever need to. However, state returns are not included for free with those options.
Most taxpayers can get away with using the Classic plan, since you have access to all the forms you may need. But upgrading to the Premium option gets you extra benefits like audit assistance, priority support and access to a tax professional. If you’re using the Simply Free or Classic options, those features cost extra.
Who TaxSlayer Is For
TaxSlayer’s prices makes it a good fit for those who want an affordable tax planning service. The Simply Free option is entirely free, though you have to pay for extra state returns if you file more than one. But some other services only offer federal filing for free, so TaxSlayer helps you save money.
If you have some tax filing experience, it can also help you save time and money. Many of its extra features come at a cost. Specific tax support costs extra, as well as audit assistance. If you’re a total beginner who wants these features, it becomes costly quickly. TaxSlayer doesn’t offer an extensive amount of educational tools and guides, which some other services. First-time filers may find this lack of information a drawback. But if you have enough confidence in your filing ability, these features won’t be necessary so you can keep the extra features at a minimum.
What’s the Catch?
Though TaxSlayer is an affordable option, there are small catches that come with its service. For example, all plans have unlimited free phone and email support – but that’s only for technical questions. Access to a tax professional only comes with the Premium option. Though TaxSlayer says its dedicated to providing customers with the best support, that comes at a price. The same goes for form compatibility. The free option only lets you file a 1040EZ and one state return for free. For anything else, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Plus, TaxSlayer doesn’t come with as many educational features. There is some guidance throughout the filing process, enough that you can get through it without any specialized tax knowledge. But unlike other services, it doesn’t offer as many educational tax tips or guides, which can be a drawback if you’re filing for the first-time.
And though TaxSlayer offers a Self-Employed option, it’s unclear how it specifically helps self-employed individuals. The option offers all the features of the Premium option, with the only main difference being the price. The Self-Employed option is more expensive than the Premium option for federal filing. A state return is also included for free. Besides that, there’s no information about how this option is better for self-employed individuals.
How TaxSlayer Stacks Up
|Tax Planner||Plans Offered||Costs (Federal)||Costs (State)|
|TaxSlayer||Simply Free, Classic, Premium||Free: $0 Classic: $24 Premium: $44||Simply Free: $0 for first, $29 for additional Classic: $29 Premium: $29|
|TurboTax||Free, 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|
|TaxAct||Free, Plus, Freelancer, Premium||Free: $0 Plus: $25 Freelancer: $39 Premium: $51||Free: $0 Plus: $37 Freelancer: $37 Premium: $37|
TaxSlayer is an affordable tax planning service, but it isn’t the most well-known service. Though some of its competitors have higher prices, they tend to have more features, as well. This can edge out TaxSlayer when it comes to additional options and tools.
TurboTax is a popular tax planning service, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Its first paid option, TurboTax Deluxe, is more expensive than TaxSlayer’s most expensive plan. But with higher prices, it comes with more features and perks. TurboTax is incredibly user-friendly, using an interview approach to file out forms. You answer simple questions and it automatically does calculations and inputs information for you. It also has 100% accuracy and maximum refund guarantees.
The major drawback to TurboTax is the price. Though it has more features, you often have to upgrade to a more expensive plan for full access. While TaxSlayer’s first paid option gives you access to all major forms, that’s not the case with TurboTax. With TurboTax, you may have to keep upgrading options until your form is available, which can be expensive. However, TurboTax’s Self-Employed filing option is more transparent than TaxSlayer’s. TurboTax Self-Employed option is aimed at independent contractors, freelancers and consultants. It helps maximize individual and business deductions, and offers tools that best help self-employed individuals. In comparison, the TaxSlayer plan is vague about how it’s a fit for those who are self-employed.
For the 2017 tax season, TurboTax is offering reduced prices for filing. Federal filing has been reduced $20 for each plan. That takes the Deluxe option down to $39.99, the Premier to $59.99 and the Self-Employed option to $89.99. All state filing is reduced to $36.99. TurboTax also offers the Absolute Zero option. It allows you to file federal 1040EZ, 1040A and state taxes for free.
Another tax planning service is TaxAct, whose prices are mid-range compared to TurboTax and TaxSlayer. TaxAct is also known for being affordable, giving you all the necessary features without having to pay a high price. It’s straightforward and no-nonsense, getting the job done without the need for extra add-ons.
Its Free option allows you to file Form 1040A and 1040EZ with no fees for federal or state filing. Though TaxSlayer’s is also completely free, you can only file form 1040EZ and you’re limited to one free state return. TaxAct also has additional options like unlimited support, step-by-step guidance and a personalized financial assessment. Though both TaxAct and TaxSlayer don’t have extensive tax educational resources, TaxAct may have a leg up over TaxSlayer for transparency and features, though it’s slightly more expensive.
Bottom Line: Should You Use TaxSlayer?
TaxSlayer’s focus on both innovative tax preparation software and a great customer experience has made its service into one of the most affordable in the field. Its low prices and dedication to community values makes it stand out. You get unlimited email and phone technical support and different filing methods to fit your approach, while still getting the maximum refunds available.
With the ability to file all major forms without needing to upgrade to an expensive plan, you get all the basics of tax filing at an affordable price. And it has features that make filing easier, like PDF and W-2 import. But TaxSlayer could be improved. Its customer service isn’t as accessible as it may first appear – you only get the help of a tax professional in the Premium plan, which is the most expensive one. Plus, it doesn’t offer many features. But the features that TaxSlayer offers are good for its low prices.