The Good: Using this tax filing software, you are guaranteed free or low-cost 1040 federal e-filing. All users get free chat support as well. The help options offered are in-depth, context sensitive and voluminous, ensuring that you will be able to find what you are looking for.
The Bad: The manufacturer doesn’t provide telephone support. Additionally, you will need to submit your account information if you are to enjoy the chat support. This means that users cannot submit questions if they do not have an account set up already.
The Verdict: eSmart does a decent job in helping users in preparation of their own returns at a low cost. However, it is far behind in our ranking of the best tax software in the market today so you should not expect extensive service.
eSmart Tax is managed by Liberty Tax, a company that has more than 4,000 offices spread all over the country. The software is a little similar to other software, in the way it goes through your returns. Your personal information such as Social Security numbers, address, dependents etc. are gathered upfront. As you go through the filing process, you will answer series of questions all geared towards helping you provide answers that are vital to the exercise and also help the software in knowing what specific areas to accentuate. The questions are tailored in a straightforward manner requiring only a yes or no in many cases. The answers may be entered into fields or chosen from a drop down menu.
Using this software, getting your basic 1040 is free and but getting Deluxe 1040s and Basic 1040s is not free. The premium 1040s which have business income and expenses added is the costliest to file. According to the company, you qualify for deluxe filing status as long as you have itemized deductions or dependents. The free version of the software can manage simple calculations such as earned income credit but you can’t do much with it unlike some of the best tax preparation software we covered in our review.
You can contact eSmart Tax via their chat option but you can be sure that the representative will not answer you if you don’t have account information handy. Apart from this, you equally need to have answer to the security question you used while creating the account. This is a major negative for us as even customers with accounts will be left stranded if they can’t remember their security question answers. The situation is the same irrespective of what category of customer you are so you need to be sure you have you account opening info handy else you will be left stranded.
Regarding the actual use of this software, it did well in the creation of accurate 1040 returns with itemized deductions when compared to some of the best online tax software we covered. The software also has the ability to import your tax return and information from other tax program. The software equally allows you how to import your W-2 and 1099 forms so that you can speed up the creation of returns and also reduce the occurrence of common entry errors. Unlike some of the best tax software we covered in our review, the software doesn’t have a guided interview format but still, it can help you find common credits and deductions easily with its guided interview format. The Add Reminder feature is a good one to mention as it makes it easy for individuals to keep note of uncompleted sections, allowing them to come back to it later on. This can be likened to the bookmark feature in some of the best tax software we reviewed.
The manufacturers of this software only offer unlimited tax help to deluxe and premium filers. Therefore, Basic filers will need to pay for unlimited tax support. While this is not new in the best online tax software world, their decision of charging fees per topic is rather worrying.
If you have general questions to ask, you can send an email or tweet at the company handle on Twitter or talk to them on Facebook. You should get an answer within the hour. This service offers a section that covers basic tax information and their comprehensive blog in the Tax Lounge can be found on the Liberty Tax Website. The blog does a good job on covering a variety of topics which include ideas on taxation, commentaries, etc.