Most products on this page are from partners who may compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how they appear on the page. However, opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain.

Tax season is here. Filing tax returns can sometimes be scary, overwhelming and expensive. But if you prefer to try to slay the Tax Beast on your own, there are low-cost, easy options to go the do-it-yourself route. Let's review two popular tax preparation services and take a look at how they stack up against each other in our TaxAct versus TaxSlayer comparison.

TaxAct vs. TaxSlayer: Overview

TaxAct TaxSlayer
TaxAct logo

Free: $0 federal + $39.99 per state

Deluxe: $49.99 federal + $59.99 per state

Premier: $79.99 federal + $59.99 per state

Self-Employed: $99.99 federal + $59.99 per state

Simply Free: $01

Classic: $30.36 sale ($37.95 regular)+ $44.95 per state

Premium: $46.36 sale ($57.95 regular) + $44.95 per state

Self-Employed: $54.36 sale ($67.95 regular) + $44.95 per state

Use code SAVE20 at checkout for 20% off**

Guarantees

  • Accuracy guarantee
  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee

 

Guarantees

  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • 100% accuracy guarantee

W-2 and Prior Year Import: Yes

W-2 and Prior Year Import: Yes

Audit Support: Audit defense for a fee; questions + next step help after an IRS notice

Audit Support: Basic inquiry help to full audit defense, depending on tier

Access to Tax Experts: Free account & technical support on all tiers; expert help for a fee

Access to Tax Experts: Yes, with Premium + Self-Employed

1Simply Free includes one free federal return. Simply Free may also include a free state return at certain times during the tax season, or may be free depending on any applicable coupons, discounts, or promotions. Simply Free is only available for those with a basic 1040. To qualify you must meet other eligibility requirements; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Less than the majority of U.S. taxpayers may qualify.

**20% off your federal tax return. Offer is valid on federal tax returns e-filed by April 15, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Only valid for new or first time TaxSlayer users only. Promotion code must be entered at checkout. Offer is not applicable to state tax returns or additional products. Offer is valid for one-time use only and cannot be combined with any other coupons, promotions, discounts, or offers. Offer is nontransferable, cannot be sold or otherwise bartered, and is not applicable to previous purchases or returns.

TaxAct Overview

TaxAct

TaxAct has a robust accuracy and refund maximum guarantee that eclipses most competitors. Its no-frills tax service is easy to use and simple to navigate. It really shines with its Xpert Assist help service, which allows filers across all tiers to consult a tax expert, though the service now comes with a fee.

Overview

TaxAct’s filing software comes with four tiers: Free, Deluxe, Self-Employed, and Premier tiers. Whether you have the most basic tax filing needs or more complex filing as a freelancer or a business owner, TaxAct makes the process affordable and easy to navigate with its intuitive software. Keep in mind that filing a state return can come with a higher fee than other competitors.

Pros

  • Maximum refund and accuracy guarantee
  • Ability to import previous returns from other online tax softwares

Cons

  • No free state return filing
  • Live tax help from an expert now has a fee

Pros

  • Free live tax help
  • Customer service 7 days a week during tax season
  • Inexpensive audit protection option
  • $100k Accuracy Guarantee

Cons

  • Limited data import capabilities
  • State returns have an added fee

TaxAct’s standout feature used to be its free live assistance from tax experts, Xpert Assist, no matter which edition you bought. While support staff is still available to answer questions seven days a week during tax season, Xpert Assist is now only available for a fee. Still, for those who aren’t filing multiple forms for taxes, the free support staff might suffice, should any issue come up.

The maximum refund guarantee goes beyond reimbursing you for what you paid to use TaxAct and can also cover the difference in your refund if you went with another tax prep platform.

The downside? You'll need to pay to file a state return. 

TaxSlayer Overview

TaxSlayer

Regardless of which tier you opt for, TaxSlayer offers users an incredible amount of value for a relatively affordable price. Featuring a free federal version meant for simple tax situations, as well as a Classic tier that includes access to additional deductions, credits and forms and a Premium tier that comes with robust customer support functionality, you'll likely be able to find a service offered by TaxSlayer that satisfies your needs. Plus, active military members can file their federal returns for free with TaxSlayer.

Overview

TaxSlayer offers several tiers of service, ranging from a free federal version that’s best for simple tax situations to a premium tier that includes live chat support, as well as priority phone and email support. While not everyone qualifies for TaxSlayer’s free edition, pricing on all of TaxSlayer’s tiers compares favorably to its top competitors’ prices.

Simply Free includes one free federal return. Simply Free may also include a free state return at certain times during the tax season, or may be free depending on any applicable coupons, discounts, or promotions. Simply Free is only available for those with a basic 1040. To qualify you must meet other eligibility requirements; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Less than the majority of U.S. taxpayers may qualify.

Pros

  • Premium tiers are relatively affordable compared to competing products
  • Free version available for some users
  • Free federal returns for active-duty military members

Cons

  • Some tax credit forms not available in free version
  • Free version not available to high-income users

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Free for active military
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Customer service available seven days a week

Cons

  • Live tax help only available through Premium edition
  • Customer support by phone and email only
  • Guarantees could be more robust
  • Audit protection only available through Premium & Self-Employed

When it comes to cost alone, TaxSlayer is one of the more affordable options. A particularly great TaxSlayer feature is that active-duty military members can file taxes for free. And if you plan on doing your taxes on your phone, TaxSlayer's mobile user interface is pleasing to the eyes and easy to navigate.

However, help from a tax agent and audit protection are both only available for the Premium and Self-Employed tiers. Plus, customer support is only available by phone and email, while competitors offer video support. And while TaxSlayer offers a maximum refund guarantee and accuracy protection, some competitors offer more robust protection.

H&R Block tax prep services Related Article

9 Best and Cheapest Online Tax Services in June 2024

Read More

Pricing

Pricing Winner: TaxSlayer

Why we picked it: TaxSlayer is more affordable across the board.

Both tax preparation programs offer free versions. However, should you need to file a state return, you'll need to pony up additional cash if you're using TaxAct—it's an additional charge per state.

In some cases, you may need to pay for a state return with TaxSlayer as well, depending on your state. (TaxSlayer's Simply Free includes one free federal return. Simply Free may also include a free state return at certain times during the tax season, or may be free depending on any applicable coupons, discounts, or promotions. Simply Free is only available for those with a basic 1040. To qualify you must meet other eligibility requirements; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Less than the majority of U.S. taxpayers may qualify.)

Right now, you can get 20% off with TaxSlayer using code SAVE20 at checkout.**

TaxSlayer Products & Pricing

Tier Summary Federal State

Simply Free

  • Basic 1040 filing option
  • Free federal returns
  • Phone + email support

$0

Simply Free includes one free federal return. Simply Free may also include a free state return at certain times during the tax season.1

Military

  • Available for any tax situation
  • IRS inquiry help up to 1 year
  • Access to all major tax forms
  • Phone + email support

$0

$44.95

Classic

  • Available for any tax situation
  • IRS inquiry help up to 1 year
  • Access to all major tax forms
  • Phone + email support

$30.36 ($37.95 regular)

$44.95

Premium

  • Everything included with Classic
  • IRS inquiry help for up to 3 years
  • One-on-one help from a tax pro
  • Live chat and priority assistance

$46.36 ($57.95 regular)

$44.95

Self-Employed

  • Everything included with Premium
  • 1099 and Schedule C assistance
  • Estimated tax payment reminders
  • Educational tools to make tax filing easier
  • Audit defense for 3 years

$54.36 ($67.95 regular)

$44.95

Use code SAVE20 at checkout for discount**

**20% off your federal tax return. Offer is valid on federal tax returns e-filed by April 15, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Only valid for new or first time TaxSlayer users only. Promotion code must be entered at checkout. Offer is not applicable to state tax returns or additional products. Offer is valid for one-time use only and cannot be combined with any other coupons, promotions, discounts, or offers. Offer is nontransferable, cannot be sold or otherwise bartered, and is not applicable to previous purchases or returns.

1Simply Free includes one free federal return. Simply Free may also include a free state return at certain times during the tax season, or may be free depending on any applicable coupons, discounts, or promotions. Simply Free is only available for those with a basic 1040. To qualify you must meet other eligibility requirements; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Less than the majority of U.S. taxpayers may qualify.

Across the board, TaxSlayer is the more budget-friendly option. Although TaxAct offers free customer support to guide you through your tax return, access to tax experts now comes at a fee, starting at $59.99 at the Free level.

When comparing similar tiers, TaxSlayer's Premium version, which is the tier with the most bells and whistles (outside of Self-Employed), is slightly pricier than TaxAct's Premier edition. (Note that TaxSlayer does include live help from a tax agent in their Premium tier.) 

TaxAct Products & Pricing

Tier Summary Federal State

Free Edition

  • Basic 1040 filing option
  • Standard deduction
  • Earned income credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Tuition and fees deduction
  • Can upload last year’s return

$0

$39.99

Deluxe Edition

  • Includes everything with the free plan
  • Itemized deductions
  • Child and dependents care
  • Adoption credits
  • Student loan interest
  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • HSAs

$49.99

$59.99

Premier Edition

  • Everything included with Deluxe
  • Investments and investment income expenses
  • Rental properties
  • Royalty and Schedule K-1 income
  • Foreign bank and financial accounts

$79.99

$59.99

Self-Employed Edition 

  • Everything with Premier
  • Freelance income
  • Business income and deductions

$99.99

$59.99

Data Import

Data Import Winner: TaxSlayer

Why we picked it: TaxAct and TaxSlayer are pretty neck-in-neck in this category. That being said, TaxSlayer is our pick, as it has slightly more capabilities.

Manually importing your financial information from prior returns can be a messy, time-consuming, hair-pulling affair. The good news is that both TaxAct and TaxSlayer come with import capabilities:

  • TaxAct: You can import basic data from last year's returns you filed through TaxAct, and you can import data from other tax programs, such as TurboTax or H&R Block, with PDFs. Users can also import from several banking and payroll institutions.
  • TaxSlayer: You can pull data from another tax program if the documents are in PDF format. But when it comes to paid editions, TaxSlayer has slightly more robust capabilities, such as importing data from specific forms and types of files.

Tax Pro Help

Tax Pro Help Winner: TaxSlayer

Why we picked it: TaxSlayer only offers tax assistance for the Premium and Self-Employed tiers, but it ends up being cheaper than paying for tax help with TaxAct (which also used to be free).

TaxAct offers help from its support staff across all tiers, free and paid. However, tax pro assistance, called Xpert Assist, comes at a price this year. This add-on allows you to connect one-on-one with a tax expert to get all of your questions answered. You can even request for an expert to review your return before you file.

On the other hand, TaxSlayer only offers tax pro guidance with its Premium and Self-Employed editions. However, its Premium edition does come with a “fast-pass” equivalent to jumping to the top of the queue with email and phone support. 

Guarantees

Guarantees Winner: TaxAct

Why we picked it: TaxAct offers greater coverage in its guarantees than TaxSlayer, making it the clear choice.

Two common guarantees that tax preparation software platforms offer are a maximum refund guarantee and an accuracy guarantee.

TaxAct offers a maximum refund guarantee: If you get get a higher tax refund or lower tax amount due with another tax preparation company, TaxAct will refund your price you paid to use TaxAct and the difference. TaxSlayer also offers a guarantee to ensure you get the largest refund, but it will only refund the amount you paid to prep and file your taxes.

As for accuracy guarantees, TaxAct offers up to $100,000 protection; if they make an error on your tax return, they'll pay out up to that amount. TaxSlayer will also reimburse you for any penalties or interest charges you owe because of any errors on their end. However, it's worth noting that TaxSlayer's Simply Free product is excluded from this guarantee.

Audit Protection

Audit Protection Winner: TaxAct

Why we picked it: TaxAct is the standout in this category largely because it offers protection across all tiers for a modest price, and filers can use their Customer Care for free to get quick direction on what to do next.

The good news is that both tax preparation online platforms offer auditing services.

TaxAct partners with a third-party tax audit defense company, ProtectionPlus, to provide audit protection for up to three years after you file your tax returns. Audit protection does come with an added fee, but it awards you a year's worth of identity theft resolution and a preparer error guarantee. Filers who use TaxAct can also call in to TaxAct’s Customer Care team to ask questions regarding any IRS notice they received to better understand the next steps in the audit process. This is free of charge.

TaxSlayer's audit protection is only available for those who opt for the Self-Employed and Premium products, but their Audit Assistance also works with you to resolve audit inquiries up to three years after your return is accepted.

Customer Support 

Customer Support Winner: TaxAct

Why we picked it: During peak tax season, TaxAct offers phone support seven days a week, no matter which edition you’ve paid for. This can certainly come in handy when you need to file your taxes quickly.

Customer service help can be critical when you're filing taxes, and here's how it stacks up for the two tax prep companies:

  • TaxAct: Customer support is available via email and phone (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). During tax season, help is available seven days a week with extended hours on certain dates.
  • TaxSlayer: The customer support team is available via email and phone. Live chat is also available, but only with the Premium and Self-Employed editions. 

Mobile App

Mobile App Winner: TaxSlayer

Why we picked it: TaxSlayer has a more sleek interface and easy-to-use navigation, along with a downloadable app.

Only TaxSlayer technically has a mobile app, though TaxAct has a mobile-friendly website that works well on phones and tablets. Whether you use iOs or Android, you can look for tax breaks, prep and file returns and estimate your refund all on your tiniest screens.

Savings Accounts for Your Tax Refund

Check out our picks for the best high-yield savings accounts. One of these could be the perfect spot to park your refund—or a good place to set aside funds for your next tax bill.

Recommended High-Yield Savings Accounts

Bank Account APY Features Learn More

BrioDirect High-Yield Savings Account

5.30% More Info

*Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of 6/4/2024. Rate is subject to certain terms and conditions. You must deposit at least $5,000 to open your account and maintain $25 to earn the disclosed APY. Rate and APY may change at any time. Fees may reduce earnings.

$5,000 min. deposit
No monthly fee

UFB Direct logo

UFB Direct Secure Savings Account

5.25% More Info

UFB Direct breaks balances into five tiers, but, currently, there is only one interest rate.

No minimum deposit
No monthly fee

SoFi Checking and Savings

0.50% - 4.60% More Info

SoFi members with Direct Deposit or $5,000 or more in Qualifying Deposits during the 30-Day Evaluation Period can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate. Members without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits, during the 30-Day Evaluation Period will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

No minimum deposit
No monthly fee

CIT Bank logo

CIT Bank Platinum Savings Account

5.00% More Info

Earn 5.00% APY on balances over $5,000. Balances of less than $5,000 earn 0.25% APY. Annual Percentage Yield is accurate as of May 6, 2024. Interest rates for the Platinum Savings account are variable and subject to change at any time without notice.

$100 minimum deposit
No monthly fee

Bottom Line

TaxAct is better for more customer service access: If you anticipate needing a bit more help as you prep and file your tax returns, you'll probably prefer the extended customer support hours TaxAct offers during tax season. If you need help from a tax pro, you can also get that with TaxAct, though it will now cost to use its Xpert Assist service.

TaxSlayer is better for budget-conscious filers: If you're on a lean budget and have a fairly simple tax situation, TaxSlayer could be the stronger choice. For many, it's less expensive overall. That said, cost is only one factor to consider when filing your taxes. It's a good idea to think about your particular situation and whether a more advanced software program could help you file properly.

FAQs

  • Both enable you to import tax information and previous returns from other financial platforms. While TaxAct offers a no-frills experience and a simple user interface, TaxSlayer's navigation is easier to use.

  • Both TaxAct and TaxSlayer offer maximum tax refund guarantees. TaxAct offers your money back on what you paid for its software, plus any difference in your refunds or amount due. TaxSlayer's refund guarantee will give you back the amount you paid to use TaxSlayer's software and filing services.

  • Yes, both offer free tax preparation and tax filing for filing a basic federal tax return.

JL

Jackie Lam

Jackie Lam is a freelance writer with experience covering small business, insurance, budgeting, freelancing and money, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, BuzzFeed, U.S. World & News Report, Time's NextAdvisor, Forbes, and Refinery29. She is an AFC (accredited financial coach) and works with artists, freelancers, and small businesses to improve their relationships with money.