Stock investing for dummies – TaxAct 2016 Online Tax Filing Review

Stock investing for dummies


TaxAct is the low priced leader in online tax filing software in the United States. It’s low price, deduction finder, and usable interface ease the burden of filing taxes, especially for users who don’t require help with real estate deductions or small business filings. You can see how TaxAct compares to the other top tax filing companies here (hint: they’re the cheapest).

The TaxAct software uses a readable interface to walk users through electronic forms, and the software frequently succeeds in removing the complexity from filing.

TaxAct Prep Process

Though the navigation wasn’t the easiest of the “big 3″ tax companies, TaxAct features an easy to use interface that begins with prompts to enter basic information such as filing status and family information before walking through income, deductions, credits and taxes or returns due.


Easy to use Basic Information Like Filing Status


Helpful questions for deduction finding

The information in these basic information sections was easy to use, and intuitive. The software is optimized for people earning W-2 income, and TaxAct conveniently allows users to import a PDF versions of your W-2 forms (from both the current year and the previous year).

However, entering alternative forms of income was much clunkier. Other than catching errors through “Mini-Alerts” the software offered only a few advantages over paper filings.

TaxAct walks users through a semi-guided process to enter income from the various sources, but I had to manually select each income source for “Review” in order to find the right forms to fill out for self-employment income, rental income, dividend income, and interest income.


Taxable Income from Investing Falls into several Buckets including Rental Income, Taxable Interest, and Taxable Ordinary Dividends

Unfortunately, TaxAct doesn’t have import features for these forms, so I had to manually enter my 1099-INT forms (for each of my bank accounts), individually declare all dividends.

What If I Get Confused?

I became confused when entering the various income types, and I spent quite a bit of time clicking around trying to find the right forms. However, once I found the right forms, TaxAct offered helpful pop ups that helped me learn more about what I was filing. Clicking the information icon directed me to make to enter information correctly.


Helpful clarifications are sometimes available

The most confusing area for me was classifying real estate investment income and expenses and depreciation. Because we rent out a room in our home, deductions and the depreciation of assets become murky especially the initial questions (see below).


Other times, the clarifications yielded little help

Unfortunately, the appropriate rules were not easy to find in TaxAct, until I discovered the knowledge articles linked indirectly from TaxTutor Guidance. Using these articles (and my forms from last year), I was able to muddle my way through the questions in a reasonable amount of time.


By working backwards, I found the TaxTutor Guidance which linked me to right knowledge articles

In addition to the glossaries, and knowledge database, TaxAct offers free tax and technical guidance via the phone for all paying users (this is TaxAct Basic or higher). Additionally, TaxAct offers free email support to all users with competitive turn around time. Though TaxAct doesn’t have an online chat feature (which I prefer if I face technical issues), their support team is known for offering good customer service throughout the busy tax season.

TaxAct Plans And Pricing

TaxAct is the most affordable online tax filing solution available. TaxActs’s free filing service for State and Federal filing is limited to those who have very simple returns (those with only W-2 income, and standard deductions).

Most users (except small business owners and real estate investors) will find that they get the best results with TaxAct’s $14.99 Plus Tax Prep Service. In addition to the $14.99 for Federal filing, users who select this option will pay $14.99 to file with their state. These rates are among the best on the market, and the user interface is good enough to expedite the process of filing, and the price is among the lowest available.

Real estate investors and small business owners will have to spend $19.99 for Premium Services with another $14.99 for state income tax filing. Unfortunately, the extra $5 for help with depreciation and business services didn’t prove to be too helpful in my case. TaxAct does allow filing in all 50 states this year, which is a change from last year.

TaxAct Review: The Final Verdict

TaxAct offers a decent user interface and a low price for all users. People filing W-2 income and typical itemized deductions will find excellent value with TaxAct Plus. Despite its navigation drawbacks, the software saves time over paper filing and money over pricier softwares and accountants.

Likewise, complex filers (including real estate investors and small business owners) with experience dealing with depreciation and business expenses may see a high value that comes from TaxAct’s low prices. However, complex filers without such experience will want to turn elsewhere in order to gain additional support surrounding topics like depreciation and appropriate expensing.

You can try out TaxAct here. It’s always free to start, only pay when you file.​

TaxAct 2016 Giveaway

To make tax season more fun, we’re giving away 2 free copies of TaxAct Plus.

You can enter below. The giveaway ends on January 31, 2016.​

Also, be sure to promote our giveaway at these great partners: Contest Girl, Sweeties Sweeps, and Online Sweepstakes.

– stock investing for dummies

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