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With tax time upon us, 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?
eSmart Tax is owned by Liberty Tax. Even though Liberty has its own online filing software, it may be better known for its in-person services and offers this online-only platform as well. eSmart provides DIY e-filing options for filers who don’t need professional tax support.
With eSmart, navigation is self-guided so you can go at your own pace, but it’s pretty clunky. If you’re used to using other tax prep software, many of which use a question-and-answer format to walk you through your returns, you may find eSmart’s platform to be difficult to use. But we’ll go over how it all works later on.
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 simplicity and only need a tiny bit of guidance as you fill out your tax forms, this can work well.
However, other providers offer better user experiences as well as more options for filing. eSmart Tax’s pricing is on par with mid-range tax software products, but it’s less convenient to use and lacking in features and support. Compared to both pricier and cheaper providers, it is far more limited.
TurboTax and H&R Block, for example, have more plans to choose from and plenty of options for adding 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 and we wouldn’t recommend it above other platforms. 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 positively set eSmart Tax apart.
eSmart Tax Features
For simple tax returns only
|Small Business Features|
|Audit Assistance Included|
|Accuracy Guarantee||Penalty and interest reimbursement|
|Filing Support||Email, Live Chat, and Phone: M-SUN 9A-12A EST|
eSmart Tax Plans and Pricing
There are three different pricing tiers with eSmart Tax: Basic, Deluxe, and Premium. There is no free option advertised for simple filers on their pricing page. No matter which online plan you choose, there are some features that come with all products:
- Free tech support including live chat
- Import previous returns
- State tax return prep for additional fee
- W-2 download
- Accuracy Guarantee, Satisfaction Guarantee, and Maximum Refund Guarantee
Note that for all filing plans, eSmart Tax limits you to one state return per federal return. So you can’t file multiple state returns.
Federal return: $45.95
State return: $36.95
The eSmart Tax Basic online plan is for simple returns using Form 1040 or Form 8853. It supports Schedules A and B, W-2 and unemployment income, and both the standard deduction and Earned Income Credit.
This plan is only going to be a good fit for filers without dependents who earn a taxable income of less than $100,000. If you don’t qualify for this product, you’ll need to upgrade to at least Deluxe.
Federal return: $65.95
State return: $36.95
If you need to itemize deductions, this is the version you can use. This online plan allows you to take tax breaks for homeownership, child care, and education among other common deductions. eSmart Tax Deluxe supports Schedule C and both investment and retirement income.
This is probably the right eSmart Tax plan for most investors and families.
Federal return: $85.95
State return: $36.95
The Premium online plan with eSmart Tax is ideal for self-employed filers. It lets you access K-1 forms for LLC and S-Corp filing as well as Schedules E and F. With this plan, you can take self-employed tax deductions and manage the depreciation of assets. You can also enter rental property income and report capital gains and losses with Schedule D using this plan.
This is the package you need if your taxes are complex due to your income, deductions, and/or investments.
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
How to Sign Up
You can begin filing with eSmart Tax by selecting “Sign Up” at the top of the home page or clicking “Start Now” next to any package description. From there, you’ll create an account with your email and choose a username and password.
Once that’s done, an email is sent containing your code to access the site. After you confirm your code, you can start importing your tax documents and filing your returns.
You can find support options on the side as you file.
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 from eSmart Tax, so if you want to do your taxes 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 and use when you’re on the phone.
You’re better off using a tablet or computer to file with this provider or choosing a different platform altogether.
You can access customer service fairly easily using eSmart Tax, but you’ll only be able to ask basic questions about the software rather than get tax-specific advice. eSmart offers email and chat support as well as support via Twitter and Facebook. There is also a “common questions” function in the software you can use to find answers to your questions as you fill out the return. Most of these questions are tech-related.
There aren’t the same tools as you would see with a more comprehensive platform such as TurboTax or H&R Block. These provide information boxes and helpful hints along the way to guide you through the process.
eSmart Tax Pros & Cons
- Guarantees. eSmart Tax guarantees accuracy and your maximum refund as well as satisfaction. While this is not uncommon, it is still appreciated.
- No free option. Most tax software providers offer a filing plan at no cost for simple tax situations.
- No mobile app. For filers who like the convenience of uploading forms and filling out their returns from their phone, this is a significant disadvantage.
- Limited features and functionality. eSmart Tax does not include as many helpful tools and resources as many other providers and also doesn’t offer added support for more complicated tax situations such as self-employed taxes.
- Limited support. While online chat may be available for tech questions, there are no options for live assistance from tax professionals.
- Clunky platform. The interface for this provider is not as easy to use as competitor platforms.
- No software downloads or professional preparation. eSmart Tax does not allow you to purchase software instead of e-filing and does not provide preparation services.