In 1998, TaxSlayer.com was created by a company that offered traditional tax filing services. Now with more than 130 employees in its headquarters in Georgia, TaxSlayer is known as one of the most affordable tax planning services. With millions of tax returns prepared annually, TaxSlayer is also one of the most popular services.
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. Combined with its affordability, TaxSlayer is a solid choice for tax preparation.
TaxSlayer’s Filing Options
For the 2018 tax year, TaxSlayer offers five online filing options: Simply Free, Classic, Premium, Self-Employed and Ultimate. All options are compatible with different devices, making it easy to file on your laptop or phone.
TaxSlayer allows you to file forms in two ways: Quick File or the traditional method. Quick File is a good 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 experience and is fit for more complicated finances.
Each plan also comes with TaxSlayer’s guarantees of 100% accuracy on your return and the maximum refund possible. If it makes any kind of mistake, the company will refund you the filing cost and reimburse you for any federal and state penalties or interest charges.
The Simply Free option lets you file a federal and state tax return at no charge. (If you need to file multiple state returns, each beyond the first will cost you $29.) However, this free option only applies to simple returns. That includes filers, either single or married, with no dependents and only with income reported on W-2 forms. You will need to upgrade to another filing option to claim most deductions or credits.
If you need any help during filing, you have access to free email and phone support. But this is limited to technical support. Access to a tax professional requires an upgrade to at least the Premium option.
The next (and most popular) option is TaxSlayer Classic. Federal filing is $17 and each state return is $29. This plan covers all major forms as well as all deductions and credits. That makes it a good fit for a large range of users. If you have dependents, this filing option will work for you.
Along with the ability to import the previous year’s return, you also have W-2 import to make the process even quicker. Like the Simply Free option, you have unlimited technical support over phone and email. You will still need to upgrade for access to a tax professional.
In addition to priority email and phone support, Premium grants you technical support via a live chat. If you have tax questions, Premium also includes access to a tax professional. You’re able to ask specific questions and you can typically expect a response within one business day. Another nice perk is three years of assistance in case of an IRS audit. So if you get audited, TaxSlayer will connect you to a tax professional who can assist you through the process.
All of this comes at a price of $37 for federal filing and $29 per state return.
TaxSlayer Self-Employed is for people filing Schedule C and those who have a 1099-MISC. This could include contractors, freelancers, small business owners and other self-employed filers.
For a price of $47 on federal filing and $29 per state return, the Self-Employed option has all the same features as the Premium option, plus a few more. Additional features target the types of filers mentioned above. For example, TaxSlayer will provide you with a “self-employed guide to taxes.” In addition to the technical and expert support that comes with Premium, you have access to a professional who knows taxes related to the self-employed.
For the ultimate piece of mind, you will want to file with TaxSlayer Ultimate. To get you started, this option comes with a guide to the latest tax reform. Beyond that, only a few features differ from the plans mentioned above. You get front-of-the-line technical support, ahead of filers with other plans. Instead of just audit assistance, you get a complete IRS audit defense and representation for three years. You also get one year of identity protection and restoration.
Military Filing Option
TaxSlayer offers a discount for active duty military personnel. Active duty military can file their federal returns for free using the Classic filing option. State returns are the standard price of $29.
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 cost so that 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. If you want a refund advance, TaxSlayer offers an advance (as a $500 or $1,000 loan) 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 form and also applies to state returns.
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 lays out the tax law changes going into effect for the current tax season.
|Simply Free||Federal: $0 State: $0 for first state return, $29 for additional||Best for single and married filers with no dependents; Can file 1040 with limited deductions and credits; Free email and phone tech support|
|Classic||Federal: $17 State: $29 per state||Best for filers with dependents; Supports all major forms, deductions and credits; Comes with all free features, plus W-2 import, prior year import|
|Premium||Federal: $37 State: $29 per state||Supports all major forms; Comes with all previous features, plus audit assistance, access to tax professionals, priority support|
|Self-Employed||Federal: $47 State: $29 per state||Targeted at filers using Schedule C and 1099-MISC; Comes with all previous features plus guide to taxes for the self-employed|
|Ultimate||Federal: $57 State: $29 per state||Comes with all previous features plus front-of-the-line support, a guide to the new tax laws and three years of complete IRS audit defense and representation|
TaxSlayer offers numerous plans, all at affordable prices. Most taxpayers can get away with using the Classic plan, since you have access to all the forms you may need. But upgrading gets you extra benefits like audit assistance, priority support and access to a tax professional.
Who TaxSlayer Is For
TaxSlayer’s prices make it a good fit for those who want an affordable tax planning service. So if you have some tax filing experience, TaxSlayer can help you save money. Many of its extra features, like audit assistance, are available with the more expensive options, but you will still pay about the same or less than other filing services. TaxSlayer doesn’t offer an extensive amount of educational tools and guides like some other services. This could make it a less than perfect service for first-time filers, but this may not be a big deal if you have a simple tax situation (i.e you have mostly W-2 income with no property, no serious investments and no dependents).
What’s the Catch?
Though TaxSlayer is an affordable option, there are things to keep in mind when considering this 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 it’s dedicated to providing customers with the best support, that support comes at a price.
At the same time, the more expensive filing options don’t offer that much more, in terms of features, than the Classic option. For example, the Self-Employed option doesn’t appear to offer a markedly easier filing experience for self-employed filers when compared to the cheaper plans. If your tax situation is a bit more complicated, you may still have to do some online research of your own.
It's also good to note that TaxSlayer is not the most transparent of online services. As an example, you’ll have a difficult time if you’re searching the main TaxSlayer website for the exact tax forms and features included with each plan. We also found it off-putting that you need to “sign” a license agreement as soon as you create an account and before you can start working on any returns.
How TaxSlayer Stacks Up
|Tax Planner||Plans Offered||Costs (Federal)||Costs (State)|
|TaxSlayer||Simply Free, Classic, Premium, Self-Employed, Ultimate||Free: $0 Classic: $17 Premium: $37 Self-Employed: $47 Ultimate: $57||Simply Free: $0 for first, $29 for additional Classic: $29 Premium: $29 Self-Employed: $29 Ultimate: $29|
|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|
|TaxAct||Free, Plus, Freelancer, Premium||Free: $0 Basic+: $9.95 Deluxe+: $29.95 Premier+: $34.95 Self Employed+: $49.95||Free: $0 Basic+: $19.95 Deluxe+: $39.95 Premier+: $39.95 Self Employed+: $39.95|
TaxSlayer is an affordable tax planning service, but it isn’t the best choice for everyone. Though some of its competitors have higher prices, they tend to have more features, as well.
TurboTax is a popular tax planning service, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Its first paid option, TurboTax Deluxe, is about as expensive as TaxSlayer’s Premium option. But along with higher prices, TurboTax offers more features and perks. It 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 like TaxSlayer.
The major drawback to TurboTax is the price, but if you have a complicated tax situation, TurboTax offers better guidance and more specialized filing options than TaxSlayer. So if you feel that you can handle filing on your own, without extra guidance, TurboTax probably won’t be worth the cost. Another benefit to filing with TurboTax is that you can chat online (text and video) with a tax expert for an additional cost.
Another tax planning service is TaxAct, whose prices tend to fall between those of TurboTax and TaxSlayer. TaxAct is known for being affordable. It offers a wide range of features, covering many tax situations, without breaking the bank. The filing options are largely similar to TaxSlayer, though you will need to upgrade to the Self Employed option ($50) in order to get access to all tax forms (namely Schedule C).
TaxAct is a straightforward and no-nonsense service but it also offers useful step-by-step guidance and perks such as a personalized financial assessment. This additional content and TaxAct’s great transparency may give it a leg up on TaxSlayer, albeit at a slightly higher cost.
Bottom Line: Should You Use TaxSlayer?
TaxSlayer is one of the most affordable tax filing services. If your main goal is saving money, consider TaxSlayer. The Classic option, which costs just $17 for your federal return and $29 per state return, gives you access to all major tax forms and all supported deductions. This is especially notable for people with complicated tax returns, since most services require upgrades to access the forms necessary for complex situations.
However, TaxSlayer has low prices partially because it doesn’t offer much in terms of extra features, educational content or guidance. Unless you upgrade to Premium ($37) the support available only covers technical issues. If you are a first-time filer or if you just don’t feel confident about filing your taxes, TaxSlayer may be a bit too bare-bones for you. Other services will help you to better understand the filing process.
The bottom line is that TaxSlayer is probably best for people who have a pretty good idea how to file their taxes and want to file online without spending too much. This could include you if you’re comfortable doing some background research to answer any questions that arise.
Tips for Getting Through Tax Season
- Get your maximum refund, guaranteed with TurboTax.
- Filing taxes can get stressful and confusing, especially if you have a complicated tax situation. If you’d like some help getting through the process, talk to a financial advisor who understands taxes. An advisor will help you navigate the intricacies of the tax code so you can minimize what you owe and maximize your refund. An advisor can also help you plan throughout the tax year so your finances are easy as possible when you file the next year.
- After you file a federal income tax return, you will probably need to file a state return. State governments have their own systems for handling tax returns and that means processing times vary by state. Learn how to check your state tax refund status.
- If you’re relying on a tax refund to make ends meet, consider some changes to your tax withholding. By claiming more allowances on your W-4, you can decrease how much your employer removes (withholds) from your paychecks. That means more take home pay and hopefully less reliance on your refund.