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      August 23, 2019

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Tax Slayer vs eSmart Tax

Best Tax Software

To help you find the Best Tax Software, provides you with an in-depth comparison of Tax Slayer and eSmart Tax.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Tax Software, please Click Here

What's the best tax software for preparing your federal and state returns? In the past, many taxpayers either tried to slog through the paperwork on their own or spent huge amounts of money to hire a professional tax preparer. Of course, in today's digital age, it should come as no surprise that more than 53 million people use tax software to prepare and file their returns online.

One of the most compelling reasons to use a reputable tax software package is because of the constant changes to tax law. Figuring out what exemptions you qualify for, what income requires you to pay additional taxes, and how to claim any deductions can be challenging and also have a major impact on whether you get a big refund - or owe big time!

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Best Reviews


Tax Software Reviews

3 stars
Tax Slayer



Simply Free Federal + State - $0

Classic Federal - $24

Premium Federal - $37

Self-Employed Federal - $47

Ultimate Federal - $57

State Filing - $29 per state

TaxSlayer is the best choice for people who are comfortable with preparing their taxes and who want to save money. It's one of the only tax software products in our review that offers a completely free option for both Federal and State filing.

Why should you be comfortable with tax prep to choose this program? Two reasons: getting responses from TaxSlayer representatives can take up to 48 hours via email, and even though the company advertises support via phone and chat, those channels aren't easy to find. And, if you need audit assistance, you only qualify for help from TaxSlayer if you've used their Premium software package. No returns with Schedule C, K-1, or form 2555 will be covered, either.

On the other hand, TaxSlayer has some features that make it worth considering. First and foremost is the fact that they're less expensive than most of their competitors. Take a look at what you get with each of the provider's tax prep packages:

  • Simply Free - if you're single or married-filing-joint, you can prepare and file your Federal AND State tax returns for free. This package includes any education deductions and credits you may qualify for.
  • Classic - if you have dependents, this could be the right package for you. You'll pay $24 for your Federal prep and file, and $29 for each State return needed. You can easily import your W-2, and all deductions and credits are included. Classic is offered at no charge to active duty military; you'll find that option under Products & Pricing at the top of the site.
  • Premium - get all the features of the Classic package plus 3 full years of IRS audit assistance, priority support, and access to tax pros if you have questions. This package costs $37 for Federal and $29 for each State return.
  • Self-Employed - you keep all the features of Premium, plus extras specific to self-employment (1099 and Schedule C support, access to a tax professional with expertise in self-employment, personalized guide to self-employed taxes). You'll pay $47 for Federal and $29 per State return.
  • Ultimate - for $57 (Federal; State returns are still $29), you'll add identity protection/restoration services and preferred support access, plus one-on-one help from a tax pro on any questions you may have.

After we browsed the site for a while, we got a pop-up offering us a discount of 20% on our Federal e-file.

Another nice perk is the possibility of paying nothing out of pocket when using TaxSlayer. If you qualify for a Federal refund and opt to have it delivered via direct deposit, you can choose to have your TaxSlayer fees deducted from that refund.

TaxSlayer guarantees to give you the maximum refund you're entitled to receive; if you enter the same data in any other tax software and come up with a bigger refund, TaxSlayer will give you back any fees you paid them. The site also has a helpful Tax Refund calculator, which you'll find under the Support & Tax Tools link at the top of the page. Of course, this tool only gives you a rough estimate and is not meant to give you detailed information, especially if your tax situation is complex.

While TaxSlayer has a generally good reputation, with an average of 8 stars out of 10 across 4000+ customer reviews, some customers had issues when trying to use this tax software close to the filing deadline. The site crashed, data was lost, and people were scrambling to use other online tax prep services - which they were able to do without a problem. We appreciate that TaxSlayer responded to those customer complaints with a commitment to improve their service, but this might not be the ideal software to choose if you've put off doing your taxes until the last possible minute.

TaxSlayer is a great choice if you've got a simple return and want to file both Federal and State tax returns at no cost. Or, if your return is a little more complicated and you're familiar with the process of preparing your taxes, this tax software might save you a little money over the competition. But, if you want a well-rounded tax prep program that will walk you through all of the steps and that offers abundant customer support, TaxSlayer won't be your best fit.

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3 stars
eSmart Tax



Simple Federal returns - Free

Basic Federal returns - $35.96+

Deluxe Federal returns - $44.76+

Premium Federal returns - $55.96+

Additional fees of $35.95 to $39.95 for State returns

eSmart Tax is owned by Liberty Tax, a well-known tax preparation service with more than 4,000 office locations throughout the United States. That means that if you need in-person help with your return and you happen to have a Liberty Tax office near you, assistance is just around the corner. That can be a big perk compared with other tax preparation software companies that have no brick-and-mortar locations for face-to-face help.

eSmart Tax offers some nice guarantees on their tax prep services. First, they guarantee 100% accuracy on their calculations: if there's a miscalculation that results in interest and/or penalty fees, eSmart Tax will cover those costs. This company also promises to deliver the biggest refund over competitor services. If any other tax software delivers a bigger refund, eSmart Tax will refund the tax prep fees.

This tax software uses an interview-based application to walk you through the steps of your return. All of the questions have simple "yes/no" answers that will determine which forms you need, and which W-2s and other statements you'll need to upload/scan.

Pricing at eSmart Tax is reasonable and competitive with other services. At the time of our most recent review, there was a 20% discount promotion in place. You can always file a simple Federal return for free with eSmart Tax, while more complicated tax situations (deductions for home ownership, small business ownership, etc.) require packages ranging from $35.96 to $55.96. Those prices reflect that 20% discount.

Those are all the positives when using eSmart Tax software. However, there were quite a few things we didn't love about this platform.

First, in order to preview how their software works, you'll have to click on the "Start for Free" button and create an account. We would prefer to see, at minimum, a walkthrough and screenshots of their software before giving them our personal information.

Also, eSmart Tax offers add-ons but doesn't disclose their pricing unless you create that account. Some of these extras include getting printed bound copies of your return, 5 years of safe-keeping on your return, and enhanced audit assistance - all of which can be purchased as an eSmart Bundle. What would you pay? Good question. Other than the enhanced audit assistance that shows a cost of $29.99, there's no easily-found details for the costs on those other features.

What if you need help with the software or your return? You'd better be comfortable with getting customer support online, because their only options are their social media channels, email, and live chat - there's no toll-free number you can use to actually speak with a customer representative.

eSmart Tax says that you can easily import information from previous years' tax returns, even if you used a different tax software program to prepare them. But, we found customer complaints describing difficulties in getting the eSmart Tax program to recognize their imported information. That's not a problem if this is your first time using any tax preparation software, but could be a huge deal-breaker if you're looking to switch from a competitor to eSmart Tax.

Finally, many online tax prep platforms offer a refund bonus of 5-10% if you opt to get your refund as a gift card to stores like Amazon or Target rather than a direct deposit or check in the mail. You won't get that at eSmart Tax.

At the end the day, there's nothing wrong with using eSmart Tax for preparing your return, and this company might be your ideal choice if you want the peace of mind that comes from knowing there's probably an in-person location near you if you get stuck. But, if you're looking for robust features, clear pricing, and the ability to talk to a representative on the phone, you'll need to choose a different tax software platform in our review.

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Continued from above

Tax software can save you a lot of time and stress by staying up-to-date on each change made by the IRS, so that your return is accurate to the penny. But with all of the different options out there, how can you decide which tax software is right for you?

Here are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Complexity of Your Return. If you're a small business owner who owns a home and has numerous investments, your return will be much more complicated than a single person with no dependents and renting an apartment. Make sure the tax software you choose fits your situation.
  • Format. Do you need or prefer to have a tax prep program that can be downloaded to a laptop rather than used 100% online? If your internet connection is limited, you may want a program that lets you work offline all or most of the time, with options to file your return on paper as well as via e-file.
  • Live Help. If you're unsure of yourself when putting together your return, you may feel more reassured if you choose a company that offers help in real time from tax professionals. Some services give you that assistance via phone and/or live chat, while others maintain brick-and-mortar offices throughout the US that you can visit in person. Be sure to check if these services are included with the purchase of the tax software or if you'll have to pay extra for them.
  • Cost. What will you spend to prepare and file your tax return? Is it comparable to what you'd pay for tax software on a competitor site? Most services don't include state preparation and filing in their federal tax prep packages, so look for those additional fees if that applies to your situation. has reviewed and ranked the best Tax Software available today. We hope this information helps you choose the right package for your needs, so that you can file your returns accurately and easily!

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