2021 TaxAct Review (2020 Tax Year)

TaxAct offers a robust selection of tax filing software packages, starting with a free federal filing plan with Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed versions. State tax returns are extra.
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TaxAct Review - Simplifying Tax Returns

Does tax season give you sleepless nights? Don’t feel alone; most people have some idea of how to fill in their tax returns, but they worry about the details. There always seem to be sneaking suspicions that something is not quite right.

Did I make a mistake on the form?

Did I submit what I was supposed to?

Did I claim all the deductions I was entitled to claim for?

It’s enough to drive anyone nuts. It’s also completely unnecessary if the people at TaxAct are to be believed.

Some of those concerns are amplified when you serve in the military, with issues like combat pay exclusions and deductions for uniforms, travel, and frequent moves factoring into the equation.

TaxAct can help you keep tax prep simple, no matter how complex your tax filing situation is.

My TaxAct Review: File Your Returns, Simply

Tax Act logo

No muss, no fuss – this program gives you simple advice and an indication of which documents to complete.

Choosing the right service level with TaxAct is easy. If you need to complete a form not available with the current package, the system prompts you to upgrade.

TaxAct Gives You Piece of Mind

It’s not so much that the forms are difficult to complete. What is difficult is ensuring that you have all the right addenda and supporting documents.

Depending on the complexity of your personal tax situation, you may require your W-2, 1099-INT, 1095, and so on. Leave anything out, and your refund may be delayed. This is why the interview system used by TaxAct is such a great idea.

They’ll ask you questions that you might never have thought of to ensure that you get the right information.

The system will then:

  • Populate the information onto the relevant forms,
  • Advise you on what credits or deductions you may qualify for,
  • Tell you what documents to attach to the app,
  • And then help you file with the relevant tax authority.

What’s more, the company is so confident in the accuracy of their product that they offer the following guarantee: should there be a penalty charged as a result of an error made by the software, TaxAct will pay it, as well as any interest accrued.

Tools for a Quick and Accurate Process

With TaxAct, you don’t have to start from scratch every time you file your taxes.

If you’re on one of the paid plans, you have the option of importing a prior tax return. It must be in PDF format for this to work.

You can also open previous returns created and filed on the TaxAct system, but you’ll have to pay a minimum of $14.95 for each one.

You’re guaranteed to get the right documents simply by completing the interview as accurately as possible.

What’s more, if you need assistance with any aspect – from completing the documents to a query about deductions – the company has a comprehensive support feature.

It does take a little time to get used to how the information is ordered, but you’ll find all the information that you might need in the support section. Should you need further assistance, you can contact the company’s help desk.

What If My Situation is Unique?

If you have rental income or are self-employed, for example, that is something that you’ll want to make clear in the interview.

It will mean that the free plan is not going to work for you, so be prepared to fork over the cash for a slightly more expensive one.

In this case, you are probably looking at the:

  • Plus
  • Self-Employed, or
  • Premium

The Premium plan is the most expensive, but it offers all the features that you might need.

(More on this in a moment.)

TaxAct Has You Covered in the Event of an Audit

If it’s just advice that you need, the Audit Support database can help. It will tell you, among other things:

If you’re looking for more hands-on assistance, Audit Defense is the service you want.

The Premium plan includes Audit Defense free of charge. For all other plans, it will cost $49.95, which you must pay when the return is filed.

You do, however, have the option to cancel it within thirty days of buying it. You can cancel if you don’t receive an audit request.

Audit Defense is a valuable service for those with more complex situations that the IRS is likely to audit. It puts you in touch with experts that can assist in negotiating with the IRS on your behalf and defending you during an audit.

Check out TaxAct’s audit assistance>>

Useful Free Apps

The company makes the following apps available for free to everyone, clients or not:

  • Tax Return Status App: Check whether or not your return has been accepted, and get an idea of when your refund will be due.
  • DocVault: Take a picture of any documents that you might need to support your tax return. You have up to 3 GB of storage space to store all your receipts and invoices.

Lock in Your Price

Another nice feature is that you lock in your price when you sign up to do your return.

Even if it takes you six months to complete it, you’ll only ever pay the same as it cost when you signed up.

It’s a small benefit, but a very nice one, as most tax software companies increase the price of their software as you get closer to the tax filing deadline.

How Much Does TaxAct Cost?

That depends on which package you choose.

  • Free: zero cost for federal returns; $4.95 for state returns
  • Deluxe: $24.95 to file a federal return; $44.95 to file a state return
  • Premier: A federal return is $34.95; a state return is $44.95
  • SelfEmployed: $64.95 for a federal return; $49.95 for a state return
  • Compare all TaxAct versions on their website, or keep reading for more info.

Available Versions of TaxAct Software

Tax Act offers five versions of its tax software, each catering to tax situations of varying complexities.


If your return is simple, with no need to list dependents or deductions, this is the plan to use. You do get access to the company’s comprehensive knowledge database.

Features here, however, are very limited.

For example, you won’t be able to import the previous year’s tax returns or list deductions.


This package is pricier but it can handle a lot more calculations.

If you are a homeowner and expect to deal with deductions, credits, and adjustments, this is the right plan for you.

It does also have the InfoArmor product included in it free of charge to detect attempts at identity theft during the tax process.


Those with investments and rental properties are best served by the Premier package.

At this tier, your help queries, whether by phone or chat, are prioritized over those from users at lower levels.

As of this year, you also have the option to import your stock data.


If you work for yourself, your returns are going to be more complicated by nature.

This product will help you deal with those situations and provide an accuracy guarantee worth up to $100,000.

File your taxes with TaxAct>>

Wrapping It Up

TaxAct’s free option isn’t the best, as you’ll have to upgrade to claim any deductions or credits at all.

Unless you have only a W-2 job and no dependents, there are better free products for you.

However, you start getting phone support at a lower-priced tier than you do with comparable services.

If you’ve been using TaxAct year after year and the ability to import past returns will save you a ton of time, there’s no need to change horses midstream.

Otherwise, their online tax prep service – while a solid product – doesn’t do a great deal to distinguish itself from its competitors.

File your taxes with TaxAct>>

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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  1. MoneyAhoy says

    I think most people these days would be insane to try and do their taxes without some sort of software to help them out. There are just too many rules to keep straight unless you are an expert. I think they also tend to audit a higher percentage of folks that don’t use software like this, but I’m not positive on that…

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