In 1998, TaxSlayer.com was created by a company that offered traditional tax filing services. Now with hundreds of employees in its headquarters in Georgia, TaxSlayer is known as one of the most affordable online tax planning and filing services. With millions of tax returns prepared annually, TaxSlayer is also one of the most popular services.
With innovation and a good experience being at the forefront of TaxSlayer’s goals, the service strives to give customers great software and technical support come tax season. Combined with its affordability, TaxSlayer is a solid choice for tax preparation.
TaxSlayer’s Filing Options
For the 2021 tax year, TaxSlayer offers five online filing options: Simply Free, Classic, Premium, Self-Employed and Military. All options are compatible with different devices, making it easy to file on your laptop or phone.
TaxSlayer allows you to file forms in two ways: Quick File or the traditional method. Quick File is a good fit for those with few forms and simple tax returns. You select the necessary forms and TaxSlayer automatically directs you to them to fill out. The traditional method is a more guided experience and is fit for more complicated finances.
Each plan also comes with TaxSlayer’s guarantees of 100% accuracy on your return and the maximum refund possible. If it makes any kind of mistake, the company will refund you the filing cost and reimburse you for any federal and state penalties or interest charges.
The Simply Free option lets you file a federal and state tax return at no charge. If you need to file multiple state returns, each beyond the first will cost you $36.95. However, this free option only applies to simple returns. That includes filers, either single or married, with no dependents and a taxable income of less than $100,000, who claim the standard deduction and only have income reported on W-2 forms. You will need to upgrade to another filing option to claim most other deductions or credits.
If you need any help during filing, you have access to free email and phone support. However, this is limited to technical support. Access to a tax professional requires an upgrade to at least the Premium option.
The next (and most popular) option is TaxSlayer Classic. Federal filing is $17.95 and each state return is $36.95. This plan covers all major forms, as well as all deductions and credits. That makes it a good fit for a large range of users. If you have dependents, this filing option will work for you as well.
Along with the ability to import the previous year’s return, you also have W-2 import to make the process even quicker. Like the Simply Free option, you have unlimited technical support over phone and email. You will still need to upgrade for access to a tax professional.
In addition to priority email and phone support, Premium grants you technical support via a live chat. If you have tax questions, Premium also includes access to a tax professional. You’re able to ask specific questions and you can typically expect a response within one business day. Another nice perk is three years of assistance in case of an IRS audit.
All of this comes at a price of $37.95 for federal filing and $36.95 per state return.
TaxSlayer Self-Employed is for people filing Schedule C, those who have a 1099-MISC and anyone who's filing both a 1099 and W-2. This could include contractors, freelancers, small business owners, side-hustlers and other self-employed filers.
For a price of $47.95 on federal filing and $36.95 per state return, the Self-Employed option has all the same features as the Premium option, plus a few more. Additional features target the types of filers mentioned above. For example, TaxSlayer will provide you with a self-employed guide to taxes. In addition to the technical and expert support that comes with Premium, you have access to a professional who knows taxes related to the specifics of self-employed individuals.
TaxSlayer's Military package offers a discount for active duty military personnel. Active duty military can file their federal returns completely for free, without any form, credit or deduction restrictions, using this program. State returns are the standard price of $36.95, though.
Return & Payment Options
You can pay your TaxSlayer preparation fees with a debit card or credit card. You can also use any refunds you receive through your returns to cover the cost so that you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket. Before your refund is deposited into your bank account, the preparation fees will be subtracted from it.
The fastest way to receive your return is through direct deposit into a savings account or checking account. You can also get it as a check, but that could take significantly longer.
Paid Add-On Features
If you find an error in your tax return after filing, TaxSlayer allows you to create and mail an amended tax return for $42. This is in the 1040X form and also applies to state returns.
Online Tax Tools and Information
TaxSlayer offers a variety of online tools to help you complete your return. These tools are easy-to-use and give you a better understanding of your tax situation. This includes a tax refund calculator, which estimates your refund by answering a few short questions. TaxSlayer also lays out the tax law changes going into effect for the current tax season.
|Filing Options||Federal Filing Fee||State Filing Fee||Features|
|Simply Free||Federal: $0||State: $0 for first state return, $36.95 for additional states||Best for single and married filers with no dependents; Can file 1040 with limited deductions and credits; Free email and phone tech support|
|Classic||Federal: $17.95||State: $36.95 per state||Best for filers with dependents; Supports all major forms, deductions and credits; Comes with all free features, plus W-2 import, prior year import|
|Premium||Federal: $37.95||State: $36.95 per state||Supports all major forms; Comes with all previous features, plus audit assistance, access to tax professionals, priority support|
|Self-Employed||Federal: $47.95||State: $36.95 per state||Targeted at filers using Schedule C and 1099-MISC; Comes with all previous features plus guide to taxes for the self-employed|
|Military||Federal: $0||State: $36.95 per state||Active duty military can file federally for free, without any restriction|
TaxSlayer offers numerous plans, all at affordable prices. Most taxpayers can get away with using the Classic plan, since you have access to all the forms you may need. But upgrading gets you extra benefits like audit assistance, priority support and access to a tax professional.
Who Is TaxSlayer For?
TaxSlayer’s prices make it a good fit for those who want an affordable tax filing service. So if you have some tax filing experience, TaxSlayer can help you save money. Many of its extra features, like audit assistance, are available with the more expensive options, but you will still pay about the same or less than other similar filing services.
TaxSlayer doesn’t offer an extensive amount of educational tools and guides like some other services. This could make it a less than perfect service for first-time filers, but this may not be a big deal if you have a simple tax situation.
What’s the Catch?
Though TaxSlayer is an affordable option, there are things to keep in mind when considering this service. For example, all plans have unlimited free phone and email support, but that’s only for technical questions. Access to a tax professional only comes with the Premium and Self-Employed options. Though TaxSlayer says it’s dedicated to providing customers with the best support, that support comes at a price.
At the same time, the more expensive filing options don’t offer that much more, in terms of features, than the Classic option. For example, the Self-Employed option doesn’t appear to offer a markedly easier filing experience for self-employed filers when compared to the cheaper plans. If your tax situation is a bit more complex, you may still have to do some online research and learning on your own.
It's also good to note that TaxSlayer is not the most transparent of online services. As an example, you’ll have a difficult time if you’re searching the main TaxSlayer website for the exact tax forms and features included with each plan. However, they have updated the website to list out features in recent years.
How TaxSlayer Stacks Up
|Tax Planner||Plans Offered||Costs (Federal)||Costs (State)|
|TaxSlayer||Simply Free, Classic, Premium, Self-Employed, Military||Free: $0, Classic: $17.95, Premium: $37.95, Self-Employed: $47.95, Military: $0||Simply Free: $0 for first, $36.95 for additional, Classic: $36.95, Premium: $36.95, Self-Employed: $36.95, Military: $36.95|
|TurboTax||Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Live Assisted, Live Full Service||Do-It-Yourself (DIY): $0-$99, Live Assisted: $0-$199, Live Full Service: $0-$389||Do-It-Yourself (DIY): Up to $39, Live Assisted: Up to $49, Live Full Service: Up to $49|
|TaxAct||Free, Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed||Free: $0, Deluxe: $24.95, Premier: $34.95, Self-Employed: $64.95||Free: $34.95, Deluxe: $44.95, Premier: $44.95, Self-Employed: $44.95|
TaxSlayer is an affordable tax planning service, but it isn’t the best choice for everyone. Though some of its competitors have higher prices, they tend to have more features, as well.
TurboTax is perhaps the most popular tax filing service, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Its first paid option, TurboTax Do-It-Yourself (DIY), is about as expensive as TaxSlayer’s Premium option. But along with higher prices, TurboTax offers more features and perks. It is incredibly user-friendly, using an interview approach to file out forms. You answer simple questions and it automatically does calculations and inputs information for you. It also has 100% accuracy and maximum refund guarantees like TaxSlayer.
The major drawback to TurboTax is the price, but if you have a complicated tax situation, TurboTax offers better guidance and more specialized filing options than TaxSlayer. So if you feel that you can handle filing on your own, without extra guidance, TurboTax probably won’t be worth the cost. Another benefit to filing with TurboTax is that you can chat online (text and video) with a tax expert for an additional cost.
Another tax planning service is TaxAct, whose prices tend to fall between those of TurboTax and TaxSlayer. TaxAct is known for being affordable. It offers a wide range of features, covering many tax situations, without breaking the bank. The filing options are largely similar to TaxSlayer, though you will need to upgrade to the Self Employed option in order to get access to all tax forms (namely Schedule C).
TaxAct is a straightforward and no-nonsense service but it also offers useful step-by-step guidance and perks such as a personalized financial assessment. This additional content and TaxAct’s great transparency may give it a leg up on TaxSlayer, albeit at a slightly higher cost.
Bottom Line: Should You Use TaxSlayer?
TaxSlayer is one of the most affordable tax filing services. The Classic option, which costs just $17.95 for your federal return and $36.95 per state return, gives you access to all major tax forms and all supported deductions. This is especially notable for people with complicated tax returns, since most services require upgrades to access the forms necessary for complex situations.
However, TaxSlayer has low prices partially because it doesn’t offer as much in terms of extra features, educational content or guidance compared to competitors like TurboTax. Unless you upgrade to Premium ($37.95) the support available only covers technical issues. If you are a first-time filer or if you just don’t feel confident about filing your taxes, TaxSlayer may be a bit too bare-bones for you. Other services will help you to better understand the filing process.
The bottom line is that TaxSlayer is probably best for people who have a pretty good idea how to file their taxes and want to file online without spending too much. This could include you if you’re comfortable doing some background research to answer any questions that arise.
Tips for Getting Through Tax Season
- Finding a qualified financial advisor who can help with your taxes doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- After you file a federal income tax return, you will probably need to file a state return. State governments have their own systems for handling tax returns and that means processing times vary by state. Learn how to check your state tax refund status.
- If you’re relying on a tax refund to make ends meet, consider some changes to your tax withholding. By claiming more allowances on your W-4, you can decrease how much your employer removes (withholds) from your paychecks. That means more take home pay and hopefully less reliance on your refund.