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The government does not give you a choice about filing your taxes – you must do so or face some ugly consequences. But you do have many choices when it comes to tax services. In fact, you may feel overwhelmed by all the advertisements for online and in-person tax preparation. No one tax service is right for everyone, so the more you learn about these companies, the easier your choice will be. Let’s take a look now at TaxAct vs. TaxSlayer. Are they really that different? Which one would work for you?
Both services have tiered pricing for their returns based on the complexity of your tax situation.
Both TaxAct and TaxSlayer offer consumers a free option for simple returns. TaxAct provides free federal filing for the simplest returns and those that include dependents and unemployment income. This option includes their free Xpert assist, a nice bonus feature. They do charge a $34.95 fee for filing state returns, though, which makes their free service a little less free..
TaxSlayer’s free option is for basic 1040 returns, including educational expenses, but includes one state return with their free federal offering. So if you have a simple 1040 return, you’ll do best with TaxSlayer.
Both services advertise three more tax service tiers in addition to their free service. TaxSlayer’s Classic tier charges $17.95 with an additional $36.95 for each state. You can use this level for any tax situation, but it is best for rather uncomplicated returns.
With their Premium option, you get additional features, such as live chat, the ability to ask a tax pro questions, and enhanced phone and email support. The cost for this level is $37.95 with the standard $36.95 state charge.
TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed level is aimed at small business owners as well as independent contractors and helps you file personal and business income and expenses as well as Schedule C and 1099s. You get the same level of customer support as with the Premium option and pay $47.95 with the usual $36.95 state charge.
TaxAct is another affordable online choice. Their Deluxe level is comparable to TaxSlayer’s Classic level but costs slightly higher for the federal return: $24.95. State returns cost $44.95 each, a significantly higher amount than TaxSlayer.
Their Premier level costs $34.95 with the usual state fee of $44.95. However, TaxAct’s Self-Employed service jumps to $64.95. Free XPERT assistance does come with each service level.
As you can see by these comparisons, you will pay a bit more with TaxAct than with TaxSlayer.
TaxSlayer is simple to use but offers less information automatically. You may prefer not to deal with all the information services like TurboTax offer, especially if you know a little about preparing your taxes. The company does feature their Wizard tool for those who are uncertain how to answer certain questions on their software. Creating an account is fast and easy, another bonus. Also, TaxSlayer now offers a mobile app for people who want the option to work on their taxes wherever they are.
TaxAct is also rated fairly simple to use with an uncluttered interface, much like TaxSlayer’s. You will not find all the features that you would on TurboTax or H&R Block, so it works best for those with a little experience in filing their returns online. Still, the company provides their Xpert Assist for consumers who purchase any level of service, so you can find the answers that you need if you become confused. The company also has a mobile app, TaxAct Express.
Both companies are considered relatively easy to use and have similar features, although TaxAct’s assistance is more readily available.
TaxAct probably has the best accuracy guarantee offer in the industry. They promise that they will reimburse you up to $100,000 for fees, penalties, and “reasonable” audit costs incurred due to a mistake on their part.
TaxSlayer also advertises 100% accuracy guaranteed and promises to reimburse users for any penalties or interest charges incurred due to a mistake in their software calculations.
The IRS is an intimidating government organization. Every taxpayer fears being audited, and many want the reassurance of audit protection provided by their tax preparer. TaxAct advertises this protection, promising that dedicated tax professionals will take care of any interactions with the IRS if you are audited in the three years after you file this year’s return.
TaxSlayer does offer 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.
Some other online tax preparation services offer more extensive audit protection than either of these companies, but TaxSlayer, in particular, has limited service in this area. Although the chances of being audited are low for most Americans, you may want the security of better audit protection.
Both of these companies are similar in the services that they offer. Both are stripped-down versions of TurboTax or H&R Block, but that is not necessarily a negative. Some taxpayers prefer not to deal with all the, sometimes unnecessary, guidance offered by these services since they have some tax knowledge. Also, these services are less expensive than the most well-known tax preparers.
TaxAct does cost more than TaxSlayer, especially when it comes to state filings. However, the company offers free help at every level of service. TaxSlayer withholds some services from those buying more basic packages. And the accuracy guarantee of TaxAct is truly superior when compared to most other tax services.
These two companies are closely matched, so once again, your personal preferences are the best way to make a choice between the two. Both have A+ rankings from the Better Business Bureau, so you can feel secure using either one.
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