eSmart Tax Review 2019 – Basic Tax Prep With a Free Option
|Price Range: $0–$59.95|
Save 20% on eSmart
With tax time upon us, it’s no surprise that you’re probably trying to figure out the best way to file your taxes. There are plenty of online options, and one of those is eSmart Tax.
Before you decide to move forward with any tax software, however, it’s important to read reviews and figure out what is likely to work for you and your situation. If you’re considering eSmart Tax, here’s what you need to know.
What Is eSmart Tax?
First, it’s important to know that eSmart Tax is owned by Liberty Tax. Even though Liberty has its own online filing software, it also has this primarily online offering. As an eSmart user, you can go into a Liberty Tax office to get in-person support, but it won’t be quite the seamless support you’d receive if you’d started with Liberty Tax software online in the first place.
Navigation is self-guided, and it can be clunky. In many cases, you have to scroll down to read a list of options and then choose what applies. It can be very difficult to get through the options, especially if you’re used to using other tax prep software that focuses on a Q&A approach.
What’s in This eSmart Tax Review?
Who Is eSmart Tax Good For?
eSmart Tax will work best for filers who are reasonably confident about their abilities and know what they need to do. If you don’t mind that you won’t get a great deal of extra features and want just a bit of guidance as you fill out the forms, this can work well.
However, other tax filing software offer better experiences. TurboTax and H&R Block have extensive options for help and plenty of add-ons that can provide you with extra help. You’ll pay a higher price, but you might end up with more peace of mind and more robust filing choices. Plus, with H&R Block, you can go into an office if you want in-person help.
For the most part, eSmart Tax doesn’t offer anything out of the ordinary. Confident filers can get better functionality at budget prices with TaxSlayer or TaxAct, and filers who want more handholding can get it with TurboTax and H&R Block. There’s nothing to set eSmart Tax apart from other offerings.
eSmart Tax Features
|Small Business Features||Yes|
|Audit Assistance Included||No|
|Accuracy Guarantee||Penalty and interest reimbursement|
|Filing Support||Email, Live Chat, and Phone: M-SUN 9A-12A EST|
|Promotion||Save 20% on eSmart|
eSmart Tax Plans and Pricing
There are four different pricing tiers with eSmart Tax, including a free option. No matter which you choose, there are some features that come with all products:
- Free tech support
- Access to online chat
- Previous year tax return import
- State tax return prep
- Partial year state return
- W-2 download
- 100% accuracy guarantee
- Biggest Refund guarantee
Unlike the Liberty Tax online software, eSmart Tax does offer a free option. So if you want the Liberty Tax backing with a free option, this offering might work better for you.
Federal Return: $0
|With the free version of the tax filing software, you must have a simple return. You can get access to the Credit Maximizer and make sure you get the dependent care credit. If needed, this version allows you to fill out Schedule B.|
Federal Return: $34.95
|If you need to itemize deductions, this is the version you can use. However, thanks to the recent tax reform, it’s less likely that you’ll need to itemize using Schedule A. However, if you’re eligible for other tax breaks, such as those associated with Health Savings Accounts, this version can handle it.|
Federal Return: $45.95
|For those who have income from a sole proprietorship and who need to use Schedule C, upgrading to the Deluxe version can be important. You can manage depreciation and home office tax deductions with this version.|
Federal Return: $59.95
|This version will let you access the K-1 forms needed for LLC and S-Corp situations. You can also enter information related to the sale of a home, as well as real estate and rental income. This is the package you need if your taxes are a little more complex.|
The pricing is on par with other tax software products. However, it is less convenient to use and doesn’t offer a lot of the same features. You’ll pay as much — and sometimes more — for TurboTax or H&R Block, but with those tax prep packages, you’ll find it easier to navigate and you’ll have a lot more support and different options. If you’re looking for budget options, TaxAct and TaxSlayer come with cheaper prices and better functionality.
You can start your tax return free with eSmart Tax, but you’ll be charged at the end based on your situation and the forms and schedules you ended up using.
Tax Refund Options
There’s nothing special about the refund options offered by eSmart Tax. In fact, you have just the options the federal government provides in the form:
- Direct deposit
- Paper check
- U.S. savings bonds
- Apply to next year’s taxes
If you want more creative options, including gift cards, you’ll have to look at other tax software.
How to Sign Up
Starting the tax return by signing up is a bit clunky. You need to supply your name, email, and phone number. You also need a 15-character password, which can be tough to confirm if you don’t write it down or use a memorable phrase. Luckily, there’s an option to show the password, which can make it easier. You also set up security questions on the same page.
Once that’s done, an email is sent containing your code to access the site. After you confirm your code, you can then import a PDF of your Form 1040. Once that’s done, you’re on your way.
You can find support options on the side, as well as look for office locations if you decide you need in-person help with your return.
Being able to import last year’s return is a plus, as is the fact that you can upload your W-2. You can also have your refund sent directly to your bank account. If you e-file and then select Direct Deposit, that’s the fastest way to receive your refund.
You can choose to save your tax return so you can log in later and finish.
There’s no tax filing app with eSmart Tax, so if you want to do it from your phone or tablet, you need to navigate to the site using your device’s browser. You can log into your account from any browser, but it may be harder to see when you’re on the phone. A tablet is probably a better choice if you’re using a mobile device.
You can access customer service fairly easily using eSmart Tax. The service offers email and chat support, as well as support via Twitter and Facebook. There is a “common questions” function in the software as you fill out the return, but those questions deal more with technical support. Additionally, it’s a searchable function, so you have to know what questions to ask.
There aren’t the same tools as you would see with TurboTax or H&R Block, with information boxes and helpful hints along the way.
eSmart Tax Pros & Cons
- Clean interface — It’s clean and easy to read, even if you can’t see everything at once and you need to scroll down to answer some questions.
- Physical locations — The connection to Liberty Tax means you can go in and see someone for help filing your taxes.
- List of necessary documents — It’s helpful that, after answering some initial questions, you are given a list of documents you need to complete your return.
- Free filing option — Having a free option for simple returns is an advantage that can help you avoid costs.
- Longer chat hours — You can access instant online chat year-round, including longer hours during tax season.
- Pricing — Other than the free offering, the pricing is a little high for what you get.
- Interface isn’t for beginners — Beginners might struggle with the interface, which doesn’t offer the same level of handholding as other tax software products.
- Limited options for complex filers — While you can get K-1 forms, if you have really complicated taxes, this software might not offer what you need.
- Less-extensive knowledge base — The searchable common questions doesn’t provide intuitive help as you prepare your return.
- Lack of audit support — Unlike other tax software packages, it’s difficult to find audit support offered through eSmart Tax.
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