Over the years, my choice for tax preparation software has always been H&R Block tax program.  I never used TurboTax since it has been reported in the past to having spyware within it.  However, this year I decided to try something new or at least new to me.  Let’s welcome TaxAct to the corral.

I was intrigued by the fact that this program cost under $25, where the others are $40 or more.  To add more to my interest was that the program also allowed for one Free State e-file.  This was the selling point to me since all I needed was just one state filing only anyway.  So let’s take a look at the product.

When opening the box, inside you will find the disc and an actual instruction manual.  Not just an installation card, but a manual to tell you how to install, print and other basic functions.  This is certainly a welcome change from the past products that send you on your own after install.

Installing the product on Windows XP machine was quick and downloading the required product update was just as fast.  After about 15 minutes, I was up and running.  The program ran pretty much like the H&R Block program that I had been used to and the whole tax process took about an hour including the state.  Help was well written and in English unlike many others that are written with a CPA knowledge in mind.

The only problem I had was when I went to e-file the state and it didn’t like the previous year information for the federal taxes.  After getting the proper information that the program needed, both the federal and state e-files went smoothly, but could have been avoided if I was notified for the federal before I even tried to submit the state.  Unfortunately, the program submits both at the same time and results aren’t known until everything is done.

My only gripe with the program (and it is a fairly big one) is that the program is paranoid of itself and displays a constant copyright notice in the bottom of the display.  Out of all the thousands of programs I have run over the years this is the first one I have ever seen that does anything like that.  For that reason I am dropping my score by 1 point just for this annoyance.

Overall, my experience with the program was better than I expected.  It was quick and didn’t crash at any point as I have seen with previous products that I have used.  It is cheap and works well.  I highly recommend this program.

My score:  8

 

Pros:

  • Good manual with detailed instructions
  • Fast install
  • Free state e-file included
  • Help is in English not tax talk

Cons:

  • State program required to be downloaded a second time after first install didn’t seem to work.  Ok with second attempt.
  • Annoying copyright notice occupies the bottom of screen taking up precious screen space.  One point was deducted from my score because of this annoyance.

Summary:

This is a highly capable program for both seasoned users and beginners.  Don’t be fooled by the cheap price as this program is as good as the competition, if not better.  This is certainly goes to the top of my preferred tax software list.

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