As someone who is economically active, filing your tax return is an activity that may seem daunting. Because of the costs involved, you may not view the services of a tax professional to be a viable option. You may also not have the confidence and experience to prepare and file your tax return yourself.
Tax software solves this problem for a lot of people. There are many products available to choose from, and you should consider your tax situation carefully before selecting the one that’s right for you.
This review takes an in-depth look at E-file, its features, versions, and some of the software’s benefits and drawbacks.
Despite being one of the lower-cost tax software solutions available, E-file is user-friendly and suitable for a wide range of tax situations.
Do not confuse E-file, the tax software we are reviewing today, with IRS e-filing, the general online tax filing process.
Our E-File Review: Here’s How It Works
To prepare your tax return, E-file adopts an approach that combines the interview-style with DIY facets.
The interface is straightforward and doesn’t feature all the bells and whistles that one can expect to find with some of the other top tax software interfaces.
When you prepare your return with E-file, you have to complete several sections. There is, for example, one section for income, one section for expenses, and so forth.
Each section has its own subsections. Before you start completing a section, you have to answer some questions about your personal and financial situation.
After answering the questions, the software will guide you toward completing the relevant forms and schedules for your unique situation.
If you already know which forms apply to you, feel free to skip the interview at the beginning of each section.
Pay with your Refund
If you use E-file for tax return preparation and filing, you can pay for their services with your tax refund.
The reason many people prefer to do so is that they don’t have to enter their credit card information and make an upfront payment. You will, however, have to pay $19 to use this option.
Return Importing and Filing
If you are using E-file for the second year in a row, you can import your tax return from the prior year directly to the return of this year.
If you used the prep and filing services of a competitor platform, however, you will not be able to import your return, which is a feature that many other software solutions have available.
With E-file, you can also file returns from the previous year. If you didn’t file your return last year, you could do so at no additional costs.
E-file’s help sidebar is a helpful tool, especially to new tax filers. The sidebar provides tax information on the sections and subsections that you are currently working on.
This tool also directs you through the process of preparing and filing your return.
As you complete your information, the sidebar is automatically updated to provide you with information that is unique to your tax situation.
This high-value feature includes audit assistance at no additional costs.
If you selected this add-on feature and received an audit notification from the IRS, E-file will communicate with the IRS on your behalf and provide you with all the information you need.
If you have a basic tax situation and you are free to file a 1040EZ, this version will be suitable for your tax preparation and filing. Federal tax filing is entirely free, and state tax filing has a service cost of $19.95.
If you select one of E-file’s paid plans and the software detects that you are eligible for the Free Basic plan, they will automatically downgrade your account and you won’t have to pay to file your return.
Unlike its competitors, E-file doesn’t charge you per state return.
Even if you have to file multiple returns, you will only have to pay the standard fee of $19.95. If you have to file in more than one state, E-file may, therefore, be the most affordable option for you.
With the Deluxe plan, you will have to pay to file a federal return while the cost of state return filing is the same as the Free Basic version.
The Deluxe plan offers all the features that you receive with the Free Basic. Also, this version is suitable for single tax filers and joint filers who have dependents.
If you are eligible to file your taxes with Form 1040A, the Deluxe plan may also be your best option.
If you earn investment income, income from rental properties, or income from a small business, the Premium version from E-file can accommodate your tax situation.
If you selected the Deluxe version and the software picks up that your tax situation is moderate to complex, it will suggest that you upgrade to Premium version.
Likewise, if you purchased the Premium plan but you are, say, eligible to file with Form 1040A, the software will downgrade your account, and you will not have to pay the higher fee.
The costs of state tax return filing are the same for all three plans.
Whether you have one or more state tax returns to file, you will also have to pay the standard fee, which is currently $19.95. The cost per federal tax return that file differs from plan to plan.
With the Free Basic plan, filing a federal tax return is completely free. If you selected the Deluxe plan, you would have to pay $24.95 per tax return.
Filing a federal return with the Premium plan costs $34.95 and, although this is the most expensive plan that this software has to offer, it is one of the most affordable programs available for people with complex tax situations.
The prices listed above are subject to change. To find out what the current fee of a plan is, head over to E-file’s website.
Pros of Using E-file
E-file offers pricing that is more affordable than its competitors. The costs of E-file’s services are also known to decrease over time.
If you are eligible for 1040EZ filing, you can file your taxes without paying a cent, and if you have to submit multiple state returns, this software may also be the most affordable solution available to you.
The interface has a simple appearance, and you won’t have to click through a lot of screens to prepare your tax return.
After completing a section, even inexperienced tax filers will have no difficulty knowing where to click to move forward with the process.
E-file has some pretty strict account and password requirements, and the software times out after ten minutes, so you can rest assured that your information and privacy are protected.
Cons of Using E-file
No Free State Returns
E-file doesn’t offer free state filing like some of their competitors, which might lead some tax filers to look elsewhere. Even if your tax situation is relatively simple, you will have to pay if you live in a state with income taxes.
Lacking Customer Support
E-file offers no customer support via live chat or phone. If you need help, you need to fill out the support ticket. As you fill out the contact form, the interface will constantly try to direct you to their FAQ section.
For tax filers looking for more hands-on advice as they work through the process, E-File might not be the best choice.
E-file is an affordable, straightforward, and secure option for filers with both simple and complex tax issues.
Once you’ve worked with E-file once, the software becomes even more beneficial, allowing you to easily import last year’s returns.
Their audit support is also top of the line, ensuring you get the assistance you need when you’re facing an IRS audit.
Whatever your tax filing situation, E-file can help you to file without a headache and confusion this year.
You can also take a look at our federal income tax guide to help you along the way.