Are you currently paying over $100 to prepare your income tax return each year? If so, this TaxSlayer review helps you decide if this is your best option to file your taxes online.
It’s possible to file your taxes for a fraction of the cost when you have a complex tax situation. Simple tax returns can be free to prepare.
Whether you’re a first-time filer or have been preparing your tax returns for years, TaxSlayer is worth considering if you’re trying to save money.
TaxSlayer has some of the lowest fees to file basic or complex tax returns. Active duty military can file their federal return for free. However, limited auto-import tools and hands-on support can be frustrating.
Ease of use
- Low fees
- Active military discounts
- Easy to use
- Free for basic returns
- Limited importing
- Limiting types of returns
Table of Contents
What is TaxSlayer?
TaxSlayer has a long history dating back to 1965 as a family business in Augusta, Georgia.
That’s four years before the first moon landing and decades before online tax prep was possible. TaxSlayer has been helping people file their taxes online since the 1990s.
Today, TaxSlayer is an online tax prep program that costs less than the more well-known competitors.
For example, TaxSlayer’s most expensive package (Self-Employed) costs $79 for a federal and one state return. The same TurboTax package can cost $130 (as of January 2021).
It’s possible to file your taxes for free if you are in the military or have a simple tax return without dependents.
You will need to pay TaxSlayer a prep fee for these income streams:
- Earn self-employment income on a Form 1099-MISC
- Sold stock investments
- Own rental property
TaxSlayer lets you file your taxes using their mobile app or their online website. IRS-Enrolled Agents can also answer your complex tax questions, potentially free of charge.
While TaxSlayer doesn’t offer as many auto-import features or live CPA access as the more expensive programs do, their platform and app are easy to use.
Their 4.3 out 5 Trustpilot score is also a positive sign. Both first-time filers and long-time users have left positive remarks.
How Much Does TaxSlayer Cost?
TaxSlayer offers four different filing products similar to other online tax prep software. You will either pay $0, $29.95, $49.95 or $59.95 to file your federal tax return.
Each state return costs $32 when you pay to file your federal return. This flat fee is nice as other programs tend to charge more for the most complex returns. TaxSlayer’s state filing fee is also several dollars less than most competitors.
If you qualify for the TaxSlayer SimplyFree plan, you pay $0 for your first state tax return.
Military members can file their federal return for free using any plan but pay $32 for each state return.
Your tax return’s complexity determines which product you must use.
The self-employed and freelancers may need to use TaxSlayer’s priciest plan to make sure they don’t miss any deductions.
But the self-employed can also file with the cheapest paid plan, which is unusual.
TaxSlayer lets everyone file for free.
As you progress through the tax interview, TaxSlayer will prompt you when you must upgrade to a higher tier plan to continue preparing your return.
Unlike other programs, TaxSlayer doesn’t offer downloadable software. For most households, the online-only product is usually the most affordable option.
Let’s take a look at the TaxSlayer plans to see how much you can expect to pay.
Note: All filing costs are current as of February 15, 2021, but subject to change.
Federal fee: $0
State fee: $0 for the first state and $32 for each additional state
The most simple returns can file completely free. Although if you need to file multiple state returns, you will pay $32 per additional state.
You qualify for SimplyFree when you only need to report these taxable items:
- W-2 income (i.e., your day job whether it’s full-time or part-time)
- Student loan interest
- Education credits
Unfortunately, you will need to pay to file if you qualify for the Earned Income Credit or child tax credit.
Other tax software–including TurboTax–let you file for free if you are eligible for these two credit types.
However, if you’re a teenager, college student, or don’t have dependents, SimplyFree can be truly free.
You get a complimentary phone and email technical support. And you can get help completing your return due to a programming error or another glitch.
However, this support level doesn’t provide personal tax advice. That’s what the TaxSlayer Ask a Tax Pro feature offers.
It costs a fee to ask unlimited one-on-one tax questions to an Ask a Pro agent. As your return is simple, you most likely won’t need personal tax guidance.
Also, the TaxSlayer knowledge base provides basic tax information that can answer your questions.
You can import last year’s tax return even if TaxSlayer didn’t complete it. But you will need to enter all your tax document information manually.
Only the paid plans offer auto-import capability for your various documents, such as a W-2 or Form 1099.
Federal fee: $29.95
State fee: $32 per state
If you have any tax deductions, earn self-employment income, or sold investments, you will most likely use TaxSlayer Classic.
TaxSlayer Classic includes these tax situations:
- All tax credits (including Earned Income Credit and child tax credits)
- Deductions and income adjustments (i.e., mortgage interest or property taxes)
- Itemized tax returns
- Sold investments
- Rental property income
- Self-employment income
Yes, even the self-employed can prepare their return with a Schedule C using TaxSlayer Classic. However, you won’t have access to the Schedule C deduction finder that helps you claim advanced deductions.
Being able to auto-import your digital W-2 forms and PDFs can help you save time preparing your return.
You get free email and phone tech support, yet you will need to pay a fee if you want one-on-one “Ask a Tax Pro” access.
This plan is a good fit if you’re comfortable filing your taxes without expert support. TaxSlayer Classic is one of the lowest-priced options for advanced tax returns.
Federal fee: $49.95
State fee: $32 per state
Most online tax prep programs force you to upgrade to their more expensive products when you sell investments. That’s not the case with the TaxSlayer Premium plan.
In this case, upgrading to the second-highest tier gives you these perks:
- Priority customer support
- Live chat, phone or email technical support
- IRS audit assistance for up to three years
- Ask a Tax Pro one-on-one access
The most compelling reason to choose the Premium plan is the Ask a Pro feature. You can ask an Enrolled Agent your complex tax questions and get an answer within one day.
And paying under $100 to file your federal and state return can be notably cheaper than hiring an accountant.
Getting IRS audit assistance for up to three years is also nice. TaxSlayer Classic only offers support for the first year.
If the IRS audits you, a TaxSlayer Enrolled Agent can help. But the agent won’t represent you at the audit meetings.
Federal fee: $59.95
State fee: $32 per state
The self-employed, freelancers and independent contractors tend to pay the highest fees when filing their taxes.
While you can save a few bucks by choosing TaxSlayer Classic, upgrading to Self-Employed is another option.
Most TaxSlayer alternatives make you use their priciest product if you need to file a Schedule C. You can easily pay over $100 to do so.
In contrast, TaxSlayer Self-Employed costs $79.
Self-Employed includes complimentary Ask a Tax Pro and other premium features.
You also get to use the Schedule C deduction finder that can reduce your taxable income.
For example, you may have a delivery job and are unsure what expenses and auto mileage you can deduct.
This plan also lets you print payment vouchers to pay your quarterly estimated taxes during the upcoming year.
TaxSlayer also offers year-long tax tips that can answer your ongoing income and expense questions, so you’re not overwhelmed at tax time.
This information can be useful if you’re new to being self-employed or earning side hustle income.
Federal fee: $0
State fee: $32 per state
Active duty military members can file their federal return for free but must still pay $32 for each state return.
The TaxSlayer Military benefits are equal to TaxSlayer Classic:
- Can claim all deductions and credits
- Can file an itemized return
- Phone and email technical support
- IRS inquiry assistance for up to one year
You will need to upgrade to the TaxSlayer Premium plan to get live chat support and complimentary Ask a Tax Pro benefits.
This military discount can be higher than what other tax prep programs offer.
Tax Refund Options
You have several different ways to receive your tax refund fee-free:
- Direct deposit. Deposit your refund in up to three checking and savings accounts.
- Printed check. Receive a check for the refund amount in your mailbox.
- TaxSlayer Visa Debit Card. Get a free prepaid debit card powered by Green Dot.
TaxSlayer also lets you pay your filing fees from your tax refund. This choice can be the most effortless way to pay if you don’t want to pay TaxSlayer with a credit card.
Note that there may be a charge for this service.
While TaxSlayer doesn’t boast many features, these tools can make filing your return less stressful.
Ask a Tax Pro
You can get one-on-one tax guidance from an Enrolled Agent (EA). Expect the EA to answer your questions within one day. This perk is handy for your complex tax questions.
For clarification, the EA won’t review your return for overlooked deduction or audit flags before you file. You will need to use TurboTax or H&R Block for this amenity.
Ask a Tax Pro is complimentary with the Premium and Self-Employed product. This feature costs extra with the SimplyFree and Classic products.
All plans have free access to the online knowledge base. This library includes articles about basic tax terms and recent tax law changes.
IRS Audit Assistance
The TaxSlayer Premium and Self-Employed products come with up to three years of IRS audit assistance from your filing date.
If the IRS audits your federal return, an EA will help you prepare the necessary information.
There are several limitations to TaxSlayer audit assistance, including:
- No TaxSlayer representation at the audit
- Doesn’t cover federal forms Schedule C, Schedule K-1 or Form 2555
- State tax returns do not have audit assistance
The SimplyFree, Classic, and Military plans only offer one year of inquiry assistance. If the IRS needs more tax return details within one year of filing, TaxSlayer can provide guidance.
All TaxSlayer plans include a 100% accuracy guarantee. TaxSlayer calculates your refund amount or liability on the current tax codes.
As you file your return, TaxSlayer should only apply which credits and deductions you qualify for to reduce your audit risk.
You can import last year’s tax return to auto-fill certain information. You can also upload a digital copy of your W-2s or import a PDF copy.
For most documents, you will need to enter the numbers in each box manually. This adds time and increases the odds of a typo.
It’s the primary disadvantage of using low-cost tax filing software.
Ease of Use
Overall, the TaxSlayer website and mobile app are easy to use. You can see your current refund amount at any time.
TaxSlayer guides you through the income and deductions process to make sure you don’t overlook common tax situations.
The most frustrating aspect of TaxSlayer can be the lack of auto-import capability.
If you have lots of tax documents to submit, a laptop and a regular keyboard can be the best way to use TaxSlayer.
TaxSlayer Mobile App
Android and Apple users can download the mobile app to file your return. The mobile app includes all the features of the TaxSlayer website.
Since TaxSlayer offers minimal auto-import, manually entering all the information from your phone or tablet can be frustrating.
Is TaxSlayer Secure?
TaxSlayer uses industry-standard security measures. The TaxSlayer website and apps are encrypted.
You can also expect two-step verification. For instance, you will need to enter a single-use code sent to your phone or email to log into TaxSlayer.
Positives and Negatives
TaxSlayer is one of the best low-cost tax prep programs. People with complex tax situations or desiring hands-on support may find TaxSlayer lacking.
- Low filing fees
- Active duty military can file a federal return for $0
- Ask a Tax Pro provides one-on-one tax guidance
- Can pay filing fees from your tax refund
- Only the most basic tax returns are free to file
- Limited auto-import capability
Who Should Use TaxSlayer?
TaxSlayer is best for people who are comfortable completing their own returns.
This is an easy way to save money if you can take the extra time to manually input your tax document details due to the limited auto-import options.
If you’re tired of spending $100 or more to file your taxes, TaxSlayer is a worthy alternative.
You may not have the auto-import tools that save time preparing your return. However, you will get the same results for a fraction of the cost.