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Free Tax Preparation Software – TaxAct Product Review – (B+)

I finally decided to bite the bullet and give TaxAct [3] (one of the free tax preparation resources [4] out there) a try last night, despite registering for it a few days ago. All in all, my taxes took about 15 minutes to complete and it was a relatively painless process. The result was that I owe around $350 in taxes ($155 attributed to my side business), which made be a bit skeptical because that meant that the company I work for withheld an incorrect amount ($200 less). One problem with using a free product is that sometimes you doubt its correctness. (I’ve sinced used TurboTax and have confirmed the results, TaxAct was and is correctly calculating my taxes)

TaxAct was nice and quick, which I appreciated, but it kept asking me to upgrade to their Deluxe version for $15, which I didn’t appreciate. There was a stretch of about three or four screens where it asked me over and over again to upgrade. I suppose it’s a necessary evil because they need to make money but it was getting ridiculous. Then it would ask me to purchase TaxAct State a couple times and finally it would remind me that to e-File it would cost me. Printing out the forms was free though so I printed them out.

The program itself was good, but not as good as TurboTax in terms of navigation. After you entered in something you still had to navigate the mouse over to the Next button (instead of just hitting Enter) and to go back you had to hit the back button, no quick navigation to a specific screen. Then again, the program was free…

Overall, I was satisfied with the product, even if it asked me about a dozen times to buy a product, but I still am doubting it’s correctness. I think I’ll jump on one of those free after rebate tax product offers as a double check to see if things really are correct. Is it on par with TurboTax? No way. It scores a B+ in my book for moderate ease of use and it’s free-ness, probably an A- if it wasn’t for all the requests to pay pay pay. It doesn’t “look” as pretty as TurboTax and I just didn’t have faith in it. I would’ve rated TurboTax (last year’s edition, which would be doing 2003 taxes) around an A since I also got that for free after rebate.

If you have the time (15 minutes), give TaxAct a try. If you’ve already done your taxes and you paid for them, try TaxAct anyway since it’s free. If you get the same numbers, let me know. If you don’t, please definitely let me know. Also, if you yourself have used a free tax preparation product, let me know what you think about it and I’ll give it a try and see how it stacks up.

Update: TurboTax [5] is also free… maybe I’ll give them a try tonight. (I did try them, review is available here [6]) Also, I have no qualms about TaxAct’s accuracy anymore as TurboTax confirmed the results.