Version tested: Ultimate Bundle
Cost: $24.99 (web-based), $21.99 (download), $28.99 (download for up to 5 federal e-files)
Time: about two hours to complete a sample federal and state tax return.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (how we test and rate tax software)
Navigation and User Interface:
TaxACT's beautiful, somewhat busy screen features bright blue buttons, orange buttons, green bold lettering, then black lettering on gray background with white mixed in. Font sizes and colors and thicknesses are varied to make it more exciting and interesting to read and explore.
TaxACT features navigational links for moving to different parts of the program. Top-level navigation has tabs for Basic Info, Life Events, Federal Q&A, State Q&A, Review, Filing, Next Year. Second-level navigation enables you to navigate to different sections of the software. Also into the second-level navigation is a link to Jump to Forms & Topics.
A bookmarks feature enables a person to mark a particular page to go back to that page again if you need to.
For entering Schedule D transactions relating to the sale of investments, TaxACT provides either a Q&A format, a spreadsheet-style Stock Assistant, or attaching a statement for Form 8949 to summarize the transactions.
When entering business expenses for Schedule C, there's a green magnifying glass icon next to expense categories. Clicking on that reveals a worksheet that can be used to tally up expenses with the total carried to the data field. After entering business income and expenses, TaxACT performs a review of the Schedule C to assist the user in confirming the data input and review any deductions that might have been overlooked.
TaxACT allows users to preview their Form 1040 in PDF.
Help and Support Features:
TaxACT provides the following utilities:
- Dependent Quiz (if you're not sure whether you qualify to claim a dependent)
- TaxTutor Guidance (to help with filing status, Form W-2, and business income, for example)
- Highlights of the new tax benefits for insurance in 2014
- Discussion of the tax impacts of various life events
- Tax Return Checklist that can be downloaded or printed to help organize documents
- Donation Assistant to calculate the fair market value of noncash items donated to charity
- FAFSA Tax Summary Worksheet
- Prior Year Comparison
- National Averages Comparison
- TaxWatch 2014 to identify tax planning opportunities based on data contained in your tax return
- HealthWatch 2014 explains the tax impact of the health insurance requirements for 2014
- Import W-2 data from W-2 Management.
- Stock Data Import from TD Ameritrade, Sharebuilder, Form8949.com, and GainsKeeper
- Import stock transactions from a .CSV-formatted spreadsheet
Error Checking and Review Features:
Mini Alerts check eligibility or limitations for certain deductions (such as mortgage interest)
Alerts identify incomplete data entries, potential problems, or opportunities for additional tax savings.
- Calculates withholding allowances for Form W-4.
- Tax Calculator enables a person to build three "what-if" scenarios to compare different tax plans for the current and future years.