How to Prepare and File Taxes
For starters, you need to signup for an account with TaxAct. After doing so, you can then choose the type of program needed. If you need the desktop version of the program, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and select “Compare Desktop Tax Products.”
We compared both the online and desktop versions and can confirm that both have the same layout. The program has a tabular layout with subtabs in each section. Start with your basic personal information and move on to life events, and then you can begin the federal tax interview.
One thing that makes TaxAct one of the best online tax filing programs is that it gives you the option to work through the return on your own or it can give you step-by-step guidance through every topic.
Once you complete the tax interview, it will then conduct an error and audit check of the return and walk you through the process of E-filing for your return. Afterwards, it will give you tips on how to increase your tax refund in 2018.
Refunds and Deductions
As already mentioned, TaxAct will walk you through every portion of your return, including deductions and credits. It includes a Deduction Examiner that guides you through all the major standard and itemized deductions you can claim. There’s also a Credit Examiner that does the same for the majority of available credits.
If you’re getting a refund, you have three options. You can have fund direct deposited into a bank account. You can also request a check to be mailed to you home. Finally, you can opt to have the refund put on a prepaid American Express Serve Card.
TaxAct offers several convenient features that will help you complete your taxes faster and even plan for next year. With Donation Assistant, you can look up the fair market value of planned donations.
Stock Assistant will create a spreadsheet of your stock transactions, making it easy to track investments. If you have any loans, or are considering a loan, use the Loan Calculator to figure out your payments and to create an amortization table.
Some other tools that can help you with future planning are the Savings Calculator and Tax Calculator. With the Tax Calculator, you can make plans for next year and either increase your refund or reduce your tax burden.
TaxAct offers two different software options for filing your taxes. The most popular version is their web-based program that can be run from any computer’s web browser.
For those with a Windows PC, a downloadable application is available. The small 28 meg file is downloadable in a couple of minutes. If you prefer, can also opt to have a CD-Rom sent to your home but you will have to pay a $6 shipping fee in addition to the cost of your program.
How much you’ll need to pay to file taxes will depend on your situation. For those of you with simple tax filings, meaning 1040EZ or 1040A, you can use TaxAct Free for both federal and state. If you opt to import a prior year’s return, you will have to pay $10.
If you’re a homeowner claiming mortgage interest, an investor or someone claiming itemized deductions, you will need TaxAct Plus. TaxAct Plus is $27 for federal and you will pay an additional $33 for your state filing.
TaxAct Premium is for those of you that are self-employed, are freelancers or run a small business. It costs $37 and you will pay an additional $33 to file state.
Overall, TaxAct support is among the best in the business. If there’s any downside to their support, it is their searchable online database. It is not nearly as thorough as that of other competitors but their other support options more than make up for this shortcoming.
TaxAct offers free email and telephone support for all users. Telephone support for free users is rare for most tax preparation services, so TaxAct receives major kudos for this.
It should be noted that those of you seeking audit protection will have to pay for it. TaxAct has partnered with Protection Plus for their audit services and it costs $40 for free and Plus filers and $50 for Premium filers.
While that sounds a bit pricey, Protection Plus offers full audit support services. They don’t just “guide you” through the process but will actually work on your behalf with the IRS for three years following the filing of your return. It also covers both federal and state filings.
TaxAct is an excellent solution for any tax situation. While a bit pricier than some other sites, TaxAct Plus or Premium is still cheaper than going to your local tax office or hiring an accountant.
Between the high quality software and free customer support, you get the same benefits and service as those that pay hundreds or more each year to file their taxes.