For some tax filers, TaxSlayer is now the single best online filing option for 2018-2019 tax season. Why?
TaxSlayer is the only company offering up to $1,000 advance on your tax return for qualified filers. This benefit is one typically reserved for brick and mortar filing companies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. TaxSlayer calls their tax refund anticipation loan refundNOW, and we’ll talk about it more below.
On top of the added return advance, TaxSlayer has improved their user experience with video tutorials, enhanced guided navigation, and increased ability to import prior tax forms.
It’s also a potentially excellent choice for freelancers and side hustlers who don’t need guidance, since it makes all the “self-employment” forms available even in its free option – as long as you don’t need to call them up with tax questions.
TaxSlayer should be a top contender for complex and simple filers alike. Let’s dive in and see what makes TaxSlayer one of the best tax software choices of 2018-2019 tax season.
- Free File and Highly Competitive Pricing Options
- refundNow $1,000 Online Tax Refund Loan (coming January)
- Free phone and email support for all paid tiers
TaxSlayer offers three forms of navigation.
If you choose “Enter Myself,” you are taken to a list of forms (see screenshot.) At this level of navigation, users can select from a list of income types, deductions, credits, etc. Most experienced filers will select this option, since the TaxSlayer menus are clear and easy to use.
You can also choose “Guide Me” to allow the software to ask you questions. This guided navigation that uses questions and answers to help users determine what forms they need to enter. TaxSlayer’s guided navigation still falls short of TurboTax’s, but it is on par or ahead of TaxAct’s.
Finally, you can use the menu on the left to navigate back and forth to different topics. Unlike some software you don’t need to enter earlier sections in order to reach the later sections but can move back and forth whenever you want.
TaxSlayer Ease of Use
TaxSlayer allows users to import PDF versions of their previous tax returns. The import function worked well, and TaxSlayer used the information from the prior tax return to make my return easier. The only other import option that TaxSlayer has is the W-2 import option (which you can do with a photo application or by connecting to one of several major payroll providers).
The lack of import options may be an issue for people who are active traders, or who want to connect their accounting software to their tax return. However, most other people will find that that TaxSlayer is easy to use.
One small issue with TaxSlayer is in their depreciation and amortization schedules. These calculators do not auto-populate, so filers need to know what type of depreciation method they use. TaxSlayer does have knowledge articles about this.
TaxSlayer Knowledge Articles
TaxSlayer isn’t as generous with their knowledge articles as top competitors H&R Block and TurboTax. However, TaxSlayer offers Video Tutorials in many parts of their software. These videos pack a ton of information into just a few minutes.
For people who are used to searching YouTube for their information, these videos set a new standard for tax software.
Their tax reform info center isn’t especially easy to find, but once you get there it has the basics. I also like their “glossary,” which lets you browse a lot of specialized terminology and get definitions.
TaxSlayer Pricing And Plans
The TaxSlayer Simply Free edition has updated for the new tax law and now enables free filers to claim student loan interest and education credits. It doesn’t have a W2 importer, but if you only have one or two W2s that’s probably not a big deal.
As a freelancer, I’m pleased that the free option lets you do a basic Schedule C – something a lot of “free” software won’t allow you to add. This is place where their pay for service (instead of paying for forms) model really works for people who have somewhat complex taxes but are capable of filling out the forms without assistance.
In 2019, TaxSlayer is offering their refundNOW option to anyone using Classic and up (so anyone but free filers).
The Classic option is low cost software that includes all major forms (including a business schedule C), but this version doesn’t come with audit assistance and help from tax professionals. N
The Premium and Self-Employed plans are nearly identical to the Classic option, but they come with live chat support and help from tax professionals and audit assistance. The Self-Employed version is also streamlined to help side-hustlers and contractors figure out their taxes, and it has dedicated support that lets you cut to the front of the line if you need phone support.
Filers who don’t want audit assistance
People who want audit assistance and tax pro assistance in states without income tax.
People who want audit assistance and tax pro assistance in states with income tax.
Military Discount: In 2019, TaxSlayer Classic will be free to individuals and families with a military EIN for their Federal return.
TaxSlayer is unique in that they are offering early tax refund anticipation loans for free for qualified filers online (who use Classic and higher). This used to be a service that you had to go into a traditional H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt to get.
They offer two loan amounts – $500 or $1,000, and there are no upfront fees or interest. You should receive your loan within 48 hours deposited into your checking account or via an American Express Serve card.
The loan amount will be deducted from the tax refund and reduces the refund amount disbursed directly to the taxpayer.
The cool thing about this is that it’s free, and can be done 100% online. This is a game changer for people looking to get their tax refunds fast.
Note: refundNOW is not currently on the TaxSlayer website but the feature will be available again starting in January 2019.
Who Should Use TaxSlayer 2018-2019?
TaxSlayer is the hands down favorite software for people who need their refund fast. The $1,000 advance can be a game changer for filers who want to use their returns to pay off holiday credit card debt or to invest in a business. In an ideal world, most tax filers wouldn’t need to count the days to getting their tax return, but in the real world this matters.
Aside from this group, the video tutorials make TaxSlayer a good option for first-time filers, especially those who have complicated taxes. The Premium or Self-Employed options can be a cost effective option for people seeking support from tax professionals, or people who want the audit assistance guarantee.
H&R Block Free is still our top choice for free filers (since it allows for more deductions and credits), TurboTax still offers the most intuitive interface (with the most import options), and CreditKarma is still the lowest cost decent option.
However, TaxSlayer is a solid choice for a lot of filers who need all the forms, need some help, and are conscious of the costs. Get started with TaxSlayer for free and try it out.