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Tax season is here. The first words that pop into your mind when you think of filing tax returns might 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—and more options are popping up every year.

Let's go over two popular, longstanding DIY tax preparation software, TaxAct versus TaxSlayer. How are they similar and how do they stack up against each other? Let's take a look:

Overview of TaxAct vs. TaxSlayer

TaxAct TaxSlayer


  • Free: $0 (plus $39.95 per state)
  • Deluxe: $24.95 (plus $44.95 per state)
  • Premier: $34.95 (plus $44.95 per state)
  • Self-Employed: $64.95 (plus $44.95 per state)
  • Simply Free: $0 (state included)
  • Classic: $34.95 (plus $39.95 per state)
  • Premium: $54.95 (plus $39.95 per state)
  • Self-Employed: $64.95 (plus $39.95 per state)

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Real-Time Guidance from Tax Expert


Yes, with Premium and Self-Employed tiers

Import Data from Previous Returns
(or Other Software)



Customer Support

Phone and live support

Mon-Fri 8am – 9pm CT, 7 days a week during tax season, extended hours on certain dates

Phone, email, and live chat.

(Live chat available with Premium and Self-Employed tiers)


Yes, with an additional cost

Yes, with Premium & Self-Employed

Mobile App



Guaranteed Maximum Refund
& Accuracy Guarantee



Refund Status Check



Added Perks

Expert assistance across all tiers

Active military can file for free

Active military can file for free


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 free Xpert Assist help service, which allows filers across all tiers to consult a tax expert at no additional charge.


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. The service comes with live chat help that is also available to users in the free tier. Keep in mind that filing a state return can come with a higher fee than other competitors.


  • Maximum refund and accuracy guarantee
  • Free live tax help from an expert
  • Ability to import previous returns from other online tax softwares


  • No free state return filing


Regardless of which tier you opt for, TaxSlayer offers users an incredible amount of value for a relatively affordable price. Featuring a free 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.


TaxSlayer offers four tiers of service, ranging from a free 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 – free users must earn less than $100,000 in taxable income and cannot claim dependents, among other requirements – pricing on all of TaxSlayer’s tiers compares favorably to its top competitors’ prices.


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


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

Benefits and Downsides

TaxAct: Pros & Cons


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


  • Limited data import capabilities
  • State returns come with an added fee

TaxAct’s standout feature is that it offers live help from its team of tax experts no matter which edition you buy. During tax season, someone is there to answer your questions and walk you through preparing your taxes seven days a week. 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: Pros & Cons

When it comes to cost alone, TaxSlayer is one of the more affordable options out there. The free edition is 100% free (state included), and when stacked up against TaxAct's tiers, it is the more budget-friendly choice. Another feature that's particularly great about TaxSlayer is that if you're an active-duty military member, you can file your taxes for free, no matter your situation. 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.

Here's where TaxSlayer falls short: Live help from a tax agent is only available through its Premium tier. TaxSlayer's tax audit protection is also only available through Self-Employed and Premium. Additionally, 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 of its competitors offer more robust protection.


  • Budget friendly
  • Free for active military
  • Easy-to-use interface


  • 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


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 $39.95 charge per state with the Free version, and $44.95 for the other versions. TaxSlayer's free version includes state filings. 

Across the board, TaxSlayer is the more budget-friendly option. Although TaxAct offers free access to tax experts throughout all of their products. When comparing similar tiers, TaxSlayer's Premium version, which is the tier that comes with the most bells and whistles, is slightly pricier than TaxAct's Premier edition. (Note that TaxSlayer does include live help from a tax agent in their Premium tier.) 

But right now, you can get a discount on TaxSlayer products, and that will put its Premium option on par with TaxAct pricing.

Winner: TaxSlayer

Why we picked it: More affordable across the board, and the free version is entirely free.

Data Import

Having to manually import your financial information and details from returns from years prior can be a messy, time-consuming, hair-pulling affair. The good news is that both TaxAct and TaxSlayer come with import capabilities.

TaxAct lets you to import basic data from last year's returns you filed through the software program. If you are importing data from another tax program, such as TurboTax and H&R Block, you can upload the information with PDFs. Users can also import from several banking and payroll institutions.

With 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.

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.

Live Tax Help

TaxAct offers free live help from a tax expert across all tiers, free and paid. This includes self-employment taxes. It allows you to directly connect one-on-one with an expert to get all of your questions answered. You can even request for an expert to review your return before you file. TaxSlayer only offers live guidance with its Premium edition. However, its Premium edition does come with a “fast-pass” equivalent to jumping to the top of the queue with email and phone support. 

Winner: TaxAct

Why we picked it: TaxAct has the bragging rights in this category: All editions feature free live assistance from a tax expert. TaxSlayer, on the other hand, only offers it in its Premium edition.


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, then it’ll 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.

Winner: TaxAct

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

Audit Protection

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

TaxAct has partnered with a third-party tax audit defense company, ProtectionPlus, to provide you with audit protection for up to three years after you file your tax returns. Audit protection does come with an added fee of $49.95 per return, 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.

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.

Customer Support 

TaxAct offers customer support 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's customer support team is available via email and phone. Live chat is also available, but only with the Premium and Self-Employed editions. 

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.

Mobile App

Both TaxAct and TaxSlayer have mobile apps with similar capabilities available on both iOS and Android. You can look for tax breaks, prep and file returns and estimate your refund all on your tiniest screens.

Winner: TaxSlayer 

Why we picked it: TaxSlayer has a more sleek interface and easy-to-use navigation. Online customer reviews also deem it the clearer choice against TaxAct.

Bottom Line

TaxAct: Better for tax filers who want more guidance

If you anticipate needing a bit more help as you prep and file your tax returns or prefer to have your most complex questions answered by a human, TaxAct is the better choice. Its live tax agent feature is available even if you choose the free version, with no added cost.

TaxSlayer: 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. There's no added charge to file a state return for the free version, and 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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. That, combined with a more aesthetically pleasing, well-thought-out interface, makes TaxSlayer a standout.

  • 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. While TaxAct charges an additional fee to file a state tax return, TaxSlayer includes this at no cost in the free tier.


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, 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.