Preparing your tax return online with TaxSlayer can be quick and convenient if you know what you’re doing, but it’ll likely take longer if you need help.
While there are “Learn More” links built into the interview screens and a searchable knowledge base, if you get stuck along the way and need help from a tax professional, you’ll need to skip to the Premium or Freelancer versions to get help via live chat, phone or email.
Note that although TaxSlayer refers to its tax software customer support team as “tax pros,” they are not necessarily Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Enrolled Agents (EAs), or tax attorneys. Although TaxSlayer likes its tax professionals to have some accounting or tax background, the only training and certification they receive comes from the IRS’ Voluntary Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and TaxSlayer’s internal training. on its software.
The VITA program explains how to prepare federal income tax returns and claim deductions and tax credits. So if you have a complicated tax return or need in-depth tax advice, your options for assistance may be limited with TaxSlayer.
And while you can download a PDF of last year’s return, you can’t import or download W-2s or 1099s like you can in TurboTax and H&R Block – you have to enter the information manually.
As part of my review, I went through the process of preparing three sample returns. Here’s how long it took me from start to drop for each:
- Single Taxpayer, No Dependents, W-2 Income and Student Loan Interest Deduction: 13 minutes
- Married couple filing jointly, one dependent, two W-2s, child tax credit, and child and dependent care credit: 14 minutes
- Single taxpayer, no dependents, self-employment earnings, estimated federal and state tax payments: 15 minutes
Of all the tax return software I’ve tested so far this year, TaxSlayer has allowed me to complete these sample returns the fastest.
As a seasoned tax professional, I know exactly which sections I need to complete. Still, I appreciated that TaxSlayer allowed me to find exactly what I needed without searching or answering questions that didn’t apply to filing like I did in TurboTax.
I also appreciate that TaxSlayer isn’t too harsh with its upsell. While working on the simplest of the three statements – the one that qualified for the free deposit – I encountered no offers to upgrade. And I only saw one upsell while working on the other two returns:
- Audit Defense and SecurelyID. For $44, you can purchase Audit Defense and have a TaxSlayer tax professional represent you in an IRS audit. This coverage applies for three years. This price also includes SecurelyID, which provides one year of identity theft monitoring and restoration.
- Go independent. When I started entering business-related expenses for the sample return with self-employment income, a pop-up screen asked me if I wanted to switch to TaxSlayer Self-Employed.
TaxSlayer offers additional features for an additional price. It’s easy to decline if you don’t want the extra expense.
These upsells are easy to turn down if you don’t want the add-on features.