- I’ve been using tax filing software TaxAct for a few years now to file my taxes online, and I’ve found it to be straightforward and easy.
- TaxAct is especially useful for people who have slightly more complicated tax situations – I use it to file both my freelance income and my wife’s W-2 income.
- Tax Day 2019 is April 15th.
For the past several years, I’ve used TaxAct to file my family’s taxes as I bounced between full-time freelance, being a partner in a business, and handling my wife’s W-2 income.
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In the past, I’ve used the free version of other software – as well as an accountant when I had business filings – but when I needed more than the free software could give for my personal taxes, I was attracted to TaxAct a few years ago with the promise of a slightly cheaper price and better tools for self-employed users. Being a freelancer for most my of life has put me in the habit of doing my own taxes.
Below, I’ve walked through the free version of TaxAct, including some of my favourite features. Now that I pay for a higher tier, I can tell you that the free version (which also offers free state filing) and the paid versions are similar, although the paid versions have a few more questions based on those with more complicated needs.
Here’s what it’s like to file your taxes using TaxAct:
To get started, go to TaxAct.com and select the best version for your situation. You can just start with the free version, or use its guides to help figure out the best fit for your needs.
If you’re a returning user, you can import most of your basic information from last year’s return with a click, which gives TaxAct a baseline to compare your returns and saves considerable time.
One neat thing about TaxAct is the running tally you get in the right-hand corner as you add deductions and credits. It slightly “gamifies” the drudgery of filling out taxes. If you like shiny things, as I do, this is a benefit.
Even if you haven’t used TaxAct, you can still save time by importing a PDF of your previous year’s return.
From here, you jump right into the “basic info” section and questionnaires. It will ask you about filing status, whether you have dependents, and if there are any qualifying life events that happened to you in the past year. You’re doing your taxes!
One thing I like about TaxAct is that it’s not constantly trying to up-sell you. Up-sells are only triggered by your responses, not pushed in your face. For instance, it’s only when you select that you have dependents that it asks you to upgrade to the next version.
Once you’ve input all your basic information, TaxAct takes you to the federal Q&A section. This is where you’ll check off which types of income you received and will be prompted to upload, import, or key-enter your W-2s and 1099 forms.
If you’d prefer, you can also click through to participate in a step-by-step questionnaire that covers the same income topics but does a little more hand-holding than the checkboxes.
TaxAct then gives you a neat summary of all of your income before taking you to the deductions page.
Deductions and credits are separate categories that walk you through step by step, with detailed descriptions of what each category means. Given how confusing tax forms can be, this is one of my favourite aspects of TaxAct.
Next, TaxAct takes you to the taxes category so you can see what you might owe. It focuses on your health insurance coverage.
Finally, the miscellaneous section walks you through some optional steps where you can input your bank account information for direct deposit and other miscellany, depending on how you filled out your tax form.
From here, you can get an overall summary and are prompted to review your return (with alerts!), e-sign, and file.
It’s easy to navigate between different sections of your return to check your work, to go back and edit later, and the alert system makes sure you haven’t missed any important deductions.
That’s it for the free version of the program, but even for someone who does more complicated filing, it’s the same straightforward, step-by-step process. There are simply more forms to upload, more questions asked, and more taxes and deductions to be aware of.
TaxAct also has a robust help section and slow but responsive customer service.
Their customer service email is on a first-come, first-served basis, so one question I had for the company took about a week before I got a response. It could take even longer as the April 15th filing date approaches, so there’s one more reason to get a head start on your taxes now.
TaxAct is especially useful for filers with more complicated tax filings and people who like some more control as they file, along with the hand-holding tax preparation apps are known for.
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