TaxSlayer Review 2021: Features, Prices, Pros and Cons

Filing taxes is an annual spring ritual that most of us hope to finish quickly and cheaply.

TaxSlayer offers low cost, online tax prep. Their free version isn’t as comprehensive as other platforms, for example it doesn’t support dependents. However, their paid plans are less expensive than their competitors.

This TaxSlayer review can help you decide if this is the best way to file your taxes.

Table of Contents
  1. Is TaxSlayer Really Free?
  2. Pricing
    1. Simply Free
    2. Military
    3. Classic
    4. Premium
    5. Self-Employed
  3. Refund Options
    1. Direct Deposit
    2. Paper Check
    3. TaxSlayer Visa Debit Card
    4. File and Go
  4. Customer Support
  5. Key Features
    1. Auto-Import
    2. Ask a Tax Pro
    3. IRS Audit Assistance
    4. Donation Calculator
    5. Self-Employed Help
  6. Guarantees
    1. 100% Accuracy Guarantee
    2. Maximum Refund Guarantee
  7. Is TaxSlayer Easy to Use?
    1. TaxSlayer Mobile App
  8. Is TaxSlayer Legit?
  9. Positives and Negatives
    1. Pros
    2. Cons
  10. Summary

Is TaxSlayer Really Free?

TaxSlayer lets you file these simple tax returns for free:

  • W-2 income
  • Unemployment income
  • Student loan interest
  • Education expenses

You will need to pay to file if you qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. Essentially, you can file your taxes for free if you don’t have dependents and only have to report your job earnings and savings account interest.

Active-duty military members can file a free federal return but pay state filing fees ($39.95 per state) with the TaxSlayer Military plan.

Pricing

The TaxSlayer filing fees can be cheaper than most tax software for federal and state returns.

Simply Free

Federal cost: $0

State cost: $0

The Simply Free plan offers one free federal and one free state tax return.

You can upload last year’s return, get unlimited phone and email technical support, and TaxSlayer auto-fills your W-2 form to prevent reporting errors.

You can claim the student loan interest payments and education credits and W-2 income. But you won’t be able to file for free if you have dependents or earn 1099 income.

Your annual income must also be less than $100,000.

This free filing option supports fewer tax situations than many other tax softwares. For example, other platforms let you claim common tax credits for dependents like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

This plan doesn’t include IRS audit assistance like the paid plans. However, these returns are unlikely to cause an audit red flag because of their simplicity.

Get started with the Simply Free Edition

Military

Federal cost: $0

State cost: $39.95

The TaxSlayer Military plan can be a great deal if you’re an active-duty servicemember. All tax situations are free to file at the federal level but each state return costs the standard $39.95.

TaxSlayer can be the cheapest tax software for qualifying military members as the federal filing fee is $0 for these advanced tax situations:

  • Itemized tax returns
  • Dependent tax credits
  • Sold investments and cryptocurrency
  • Rental property income
  • Self-employment and freelance income

Filers also get up to one year of IRS inquiry assistance for up to one year. The other paid plans include inquiry assistance too.

Get started with the Military Edition

Classic

Federal cost: $24.95

State cost: $39.95

The TaxSlayer Classic version can be an excellent option if you have an advanced tax situation. You will also need to use this version if you want to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Your federal return only costs $24.95 if you have to report investment income, self-employment income, or an itemized return.

Other software may charge approximately $70 for the federal portion when you have investment income or rental property income to report. TaxSlayer’s state filing fee can be a few dollars cheaper than other tax prep platforms as well.

Plan features include:

  • Claim all tax credits and deductions
  • Supports all tax situations
  • Auto-import W2 tax forms
  • IRS inquiry assistance for up to one year
  • Phone and chat technical support

This tool can be a great way to save money filing your taxes without hiring a tax preparer. Upgrading to another plan can be better if you want tax expert access or can claim advanced self-employment income deductions.

Get started with the Classic Edition

Premium

Federal cost: $44.95

State cost: $39.95

Upgrading to TaxSlayer Premium provides these perks:

  • Ask a Tax Pro one-on-one tax guidance
  • Live chat technical support
  • Priority customer support
  • Up to three years of IRS audit assistance

The Ask a Tax Pro feature can be the best reason to upgrade if you need personal tax advice while preparing your return. Your federal filing fees can easily exceed $100 for on-demand tax expert access from other providers.

You also get up to three years of assistance if the IRS audits your federal tax return.

Get started with the Premium Edition

Self-Employed

Federal cost: $54.95

State cost: $39.95

Freelancers, side hustlers, and the full-time self-employed can benefit from the Self-Employed plan, including the features from TaxSlayer Premium.

TaxSlayer can help you claim industry-specific deductions for the Schedule C worksheet.

The service can also send quarterly reminders for estimated taxes.

Plan benefits include:

  • Ask a Tax Pro access
  • Unlimited phone, live chat and email technical support
  • Estimated taxes payment reminders
  • Up to three years of IRS audit defense
  • Self-employment income and deduction guidance

Receiving a 1099 form for side hustle income doesn’t necessarily mean you should choose this plan. If you have minimal work expenses, the Classic or Premium option can be sufficient for your tax situation.

Get started with the Self Employed Edition

Refund Options

If you’re eligible to receive a federal tax refund, there are several ways to receive it. TaxSlayer e-files your return and helps track your refund status.

Direct Deposit

All online tax software offers direct deposit and a mailed paper check if you pay your tax prep fees upfront. These are the two default delivery options from the IRS.

Direct deposit can be the fastest and easiest way to receive your tax refund. The IRS sends most refunds within 21 days using direct deposit.

Paper Check

The second way the IRS distributes tax refunds is by paper check. There isn’t an extra fee but it can take up to eight weeks (56 days) to receive your payment.

TaxSlayer Visa Debit Card

You may also choose to receive your refund on a TaxSlayer Visa Debit Card Powered by GreenDot.

This is a reloadable prepaid debit card with no monthly service fees.

The card also includes these features you can use after getting your tax refund:

  • Free ASAP Direct Deposit
  • No overdraft fees
  • ATM access
  • Mobile app

Extra fees can apply when you reload your card at local stores or for expedited mobile check deposits.

Keep this card for at least the rest of 2021 if you choose this delivery option. If future stimulus checks are using your 2021 tax return details, the IRS will send payment to this card.

File and Go

You can deduct your TaxSlayer fees from your tax refund with the File and Go option. The IRS deposits your refund into an escrow account run by Civista Bank (FDIC #12982).

TaxSlayer withholds your tax prep fees and the remaining balance deposits into your linked bank account or prepaid debit card.

You might choose this payment option if you don’t have a credit card to pay the filing fees or don’t have the upfront cash.

There isn’t any additional fee for File and Go. Some platforms charge an add-on fee for this convenience.

Customer Support

You might expect minimal customer support from TaxSlayer as it’s a low-cost tax software. Pricier platforms may offer better one-on-one support but the basic support options are similar.

The service offers these standard tools:

  • Online knowledge base articles
  • Phone and email technical support

These essential tools can be sufficient for most tax situations and help navigating the tax interview. You won’t be able to receive personal tax guidance but you can research your questions online.

Upgrading to the Premium or Self-Employed version lets you ask written questions to a tax expert. This access is cheaper than other platforms but the competition may offer real-time video streaming and screen sharing.

Another reason to upgrade is getting priority technical support. The TaxSlayer support team will respond to you first when you have difficulty navigating the platform.

Key Features

Here are some of the best features that TaxSlayer offers to make filing your return easier.

Auto-Import

You can auto-import last year’s tax return by uploading a PDF document from any tax software. The company compares your credits and deductions for this year and last year to see if you forget anything.

TaxSlayer can also autofill your W2 tax forms, which reduces the likelihood of overlooking a box or mistyping a number.

Unfortunately, TaxSlayer doesn’t upload investment documents.

Ask a Tax Pro

The Premium and Self-Employed plans come with unlimited “Ask a Tax Pro” access.

You can submit questions online to an IRS-certified tax expert and receive an answer via email or on the TaxSlayer platform.

Pricier services may let you share your screen with a tax expert and schedule a consultation. Other platforms may also offer the expert to review your return or complete it for you.

TaxSlayer doesn’t offer full-service assistance but its lower cost can be sufficient if you only need to ask questions.

IRS Audit Assistance

The TaxSlayer Classic and Military plans offer one year of IRS inquiry assistance. Coverage starts when the IRS accepts your e-file return.

You get three years of IRS audit assistance when you upgrade to Premium or Self-Employed. If the IRS audits your return, TaxSlayer provides audit preparation assistance.

However, a TaxSlayer agent won’t provide in-person representation during the audit process.

Donation Calculator

Itemizers can track cash and non-cash donations using a donation calculator. This tool is similar to other platforms but you can pay less to file an itemized return with TaxSlayer.

Self-Employed Help

Similar to other online programs, choosing the Self-Employed tier provides special tools that cheaper levels do not.

For example, the TaxSlayer tax interview wizard can help you find industry-specific deductions you may overlook by choosing a cheaper plan.

You can also print off forms for estimated taxes and receive quarterly reminders you don’t miss a filing deadline.

TaxSlayer also sends tax tips during the year that can help you maximize your self-employment income.

Guarantees

Two accuracy guarantees can provide peace of mind. These guarantees are similar to other online tax prep services.

100% Accuracy Guarantee

TaxSlayer reimburses any federal or state penalties and interest due to a calculation error.

Maximum Refund Guarantee

You can get a refund of your TaxSlayer fees if another tax software calculates a higher refund or smaller tax liability using the same information.

Is TaxSlayer Easy to Use?

The TaxSlayer platform can be easy to use but you will need to manually enter more tax documents than pricier platforms like TurboTax or H&R Block.

Another platform can be worth the higher fee if you have several brokerage statements to input or have several investment sales to report. The auto-import convenience can save you time and reduce the probability of data input errors.

TaxSlayer Mobile App

The TaxSlayer app is available for Android and Apple devices.

App features include:

  • W-2 import
  • Tax help articles
  • Phone technical support
  • Tax refund estimator

Because TaxSlayer doesn’t import tax documents from banks and online brokers, the app may be best for simple returns that require minimal data entry. You can also start your return using the app and complete the return on a computer that can be easier to use.

Is TaxSlayer Legit?

TaxSlayer is a legit app to file your taxes at a low price. The service has a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot score (March 15, 2021), which is higher than most competitors.

One recurring positive TaxSlayer review is the transparent pricing and the step-by-step walkthroughs for simple or complex situations.

Common negative complaints include not being the easiest app to navigate or being the best service if you have investments as you must manually enter all of the investment income. This can be a time-consuming task if you sold multiple stocks or use multiple brokers.

Positives and Negatives

Pros

  • One of the cheapest options to file complex tax situations
  • Active-duty military can file a federal tax return for free
  • One-on-one tax guidance is available
  • Can file student loan interest and education credits for free

Cons

  • Doesn’t sync with banks and brokerage accounts
  • Simply Free tier doesn’t support dependent tax credits
  • Can be harder to navigate than pricier services
  • Tax expert won’t prepare or review your return

Summary

TaxSlayer is one of the best discount software because of its competitive prices for complex tax situations. The Ask a Tax Pro is an affordable option too.

Another platform may make it easier to file your taxes for free if you have dependents. Investors with many tax documents may prefer spending the extra money and using TurboTax that syncs with most financial institutions to save time.

Get started TaxSlayer today.

TaxSlayer

0.9

Product Rating

0.9/10

Strengths

  • One of the cheapest options to file complex tax situations
  • Active-duty military can file a federal tax return for free
  • One-on-one tax guidance is available
  • Can file student loan interest and education credits for free

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t sync with banks and brokerage accounts
  • Simply Free tier doesn’t support dependent tax credits
  • Can be harder to navigate than pricier services
  • Tax expert won’t prepare or review your return

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Josh Patoka

About Josh Patoka

After graduating in $50k with student loans in May 2008 from Virginia Military Institute with a B.A. International Studies and Political Science with a minor in Spanish (I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for 3 months), Josh decided to sell his soul for seven years by working in the transportation industry to get out of debt ASAP and focus on doing something else with a better work-life balance.

He is a father of three and has been writing about (almost) everything personal finance since 2015. You can also find him at his own blog Money Buffalo where he shares his personal experience of becoming debt-free (twice) and taking a 50%+ pay cut when he changed careers.

Today, Josh relishes the flexibility of being self-employed and debt-free and encourages others to pursue their dreams. Josh enjoys spending his free time reading books and spending time with his wife and three children.

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