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Preparing your taxes can be stressful, but choosing your tax preparer shouldn’t be. With so many choices out there, though, you can become confused about which company offers what benefit. You can remove some of the uncertainty by comparing the most popular tax preparation companies. For instance, read on to find out how Jackson Hewitt and TaxSlayer differ.
Since Jackson Hewitt operates offices throughout the country and provides an online service, they offer you more options for filing than TaxSlayer, an online-only company. You can schedule an appointment and meet with one of their skilled tax preparers in person or drop off your returns and pick up the finished product later. You can also create an online account and do your taxes by following the carefully crafted questions or by using the help of an online tax pro. \
TaxSlayer offers a simple, easy-to-follow online filing process that you can complete on your own or with the help of their wizard tool or, with some tiers, a tax professional. Many people prefer a completely online experience, but others like the more personal touch. Your personal preference should guide you here.
Jackson Hewitt has overhauled their online charges this year and incorporated flat-fee pricing. Instead of paying more for different service tiers, you will pay $25 for all online filing. No matter how simple or difficult your return is. That price also includes one state return, so your final cost is still just $25. As a bonus, the company will reserve that price for two more years for all taxpayers who file online with them this year. As a result of this pricing change, Jackson Hewitt has eliminated their free filing options. For in-person tax preparation, you should check with your local office for price ranges.
In clear contrast, TaxSlayer has kept their free option for basic 1040 returns. This includes those with educational expenses, and includes one free state return with their free federal offering. If you have a very simple tax situation, choosing TaxSlayer will save you money.
In addition to their free option, TaxSlayer has three more tax preparation tiers, each tailored to more complex tax returns. TaxSlayer’s Classic tier charges $17.95 with an additional $36.95 for each state return you prepare. And while you can use this level for any tax situation, even complex ones, it is best for less complicated returns.
TaxSlayer’s Premium option gives you more features, including live chat, a chance to ask a tax pro questions, and better phone and email support. You will pay $37.95 for this tier with the standard $36.95 state charge.
The third TaxSlayer tier is the Self-Employed level, which is meant for small business owners, freelancers, and independent contractors. It’s designed to file both personal and business income and expenses as well as Schedule C and 1099s. This tier comes with many of the Premium level’s benefits, but you pay $47.95 for your Federal return combined with the usual $36.95 state charge.
Critics give Jackson Hewitt credit for its ease of use. The company ranks highly in part because they offer you so many options for filing. Even if you choose an office visit, you can transfer documents online to speed up the preparation process. This feature is in addition to the online option or the online with tax professional help option. The company also offers a mobile app to increase preparation convenience.
TaxSlayer is also simple to use, although they offer less automatic guidance. People who have experience filing their taxes online are sometimes irritated by the kitchen-sink approach of some tax services. However, the company is not completely hands-off and does offer you help if you need it. You can use their Wizard tool to find answers to tough tax questions. Users find signing up for TaxSlayer is especially fast and easy. And if you want to work on your taxes, no matter where you are, you can choose their mobile app.
Consumers want protection from interest and penalties if a tax company’s software makes a miscalculation. Both Jackson Hewitt and TaxSlayer offer you some guarantees. For instance, Jackson Hewitt offers a 100% guarantee that provides audit and accuracy protection up to $5,000.
Jackson Hewitt also lets you buy peace of mind through its Worry-Free option. This purchase will cover your expenses if the IRS reduces your refund or finds you have more tax liability than you first believed. The company does offer audit assistance but only with its highest service tier.
As many other companies do, TaxSlayer guarantees its accuracy 100%. Reimburses users for any penalties or interest charged by the IRS due to a mistake in the company’s software calculations. Like Jackson Hewitt, the company provides audit assistance but only to those who purchase their Premium level. The company will help you prepare and resolve problems with the IRS up to three years after your return is accepted.
Jackson Hewitt’s new flat-fee pricing makes them hard to beat in the online pricing wars. TaxSlayer does still offer the free option, however, and many taxpayers can use that service and pay nothing for preparing and filing their taxes.
TaxSlayer appeals to people who have some experience with preparing taxes and do not want to be burdened with information they do not need. Something TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt may be guilty of. Both services rank high with the Better Business Bureau, earning A+ marks. TaxSlayer’s customer service is somewhat limited because they only offer online chat with their Premium tier, but they do have an extensive library of information you can access on their site.
This year, online tax preparers may want to try out the Jackson Hewitt $25 flat fee and save money while still using a top-ranked tax preparer. This offer has made the company even more competitive.