eSmart Tax Premium
• Import prior tax information
• Lots of help articles and documentation
• Low-cost e-filing option
• Free chat support
• Interface looks dated
• Phone support costs extra
eSmart Tax Premium is ideal if you are familiar with the tax return system and want to get yours done with the minimum of fuss, at a good price, with little outside help. If you need a lot of live support – or if it matters that the product looks slick and aesthetically pleasing – try elsewhere, but eSmart is a sound option for an accurate return.
This tax preparation software was developed by CCH, a reputable tax resources company, but it is now part of the Liberty Tax operation. Previously called CompleteTax, eSmart Tax is a simple tax return solution with some good help and support options.
The Free version is for simple returns, includes free federal filing and allows you to complete state filing for an additional fee. This version works well for tax issues like child care credit but not much more. The Basic version is designed for families and people with a mix of interest and ordinary income, plus it deals with itemized deductions – the cost is $14.95. The Deluxe version is $19.95 and is for sole proprietors and investors, while the $34.95 Premium version is the business option, including home office and income from real estate and it can manage everything.
eSmart Tax Premium has desktop access but no substantial mobile app support.
Data is safe and secure with this software, created and developed by trustworthy companies and with the regular data security measures in place to protect financial information.
Import – You can import your prior year's data as well as import data from competitors – TurboTax, TaxAct and H&R Block - with even the Free version of the software. And to speed up the tax process you can import W-2 and 1099 forms.
Audit – There’s no audit support included in this package although Liberty Tax, the company behind eSmart Tax, offers a full range of tax support services. You’ll have to pay extra, though.
Ease of Use
The eSmart Tax interface guides you smoothly through a long list of questions to find your full income, deductions, and overall credits. The interface is not as straightforward or user friendly as competitors, but it works well enough to provide an accurate return with minimal hassle.
You can either move in a linear fashion through the site or you can use the Quick Navigation links where you jump directly to a specific page. It is advisable to move using the Previous and Continue buttons if you want to be sure you are not missing anything out, but if you are more experienced you’ll find the freedom to switch sections useful. There’s a handy “Add Reminder” feature where you can set a bookmark on an uncompleted section so you can easily come back to it at a later point.
The interface is not as slick or good-looking as its competitors, and looks a little dated in places. But it remains easy to navigate.
The one problem is that while you are given the list of errors made during the completion process, there are no links to jump back to the error with ease.
Help & Support
One of the best aspects of this tax software is the guidance you get when you are completing your return. eSmart Tax Premium boasts comprehensive help and support resources that link from the page, including different help options that are well-tailored to the specific situations you need assistance with. This is due to the legacy of the software’s developers, who have decades-worth of tax knowledge behind them. You’ll likely find everything you need to complete your tax return in these online resources.
If you do need additional assistance, in the form of personal help, eSmart Tax doesn’t offer free phone advice. You can access the chat and email support if you pay for a version of the eSmart software, but phone calls are extra.
eSmart Tax Premium may not look as smart and attractive as its rivals but for good-value, effective tax filing purposes it is worth a look. The on-screen help is particularly useful.
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