Express Tax Refund Review – Costs Add Up
There are a number of online tax preparation products, which work well for consumers who aren’t interested in paying a professional to prepare their income tax returns for them. Such products are also suitable for taxpayers who aren’t interested in installing software on their own computers. These products, such as Express Tax Refund, allow consumers to use their Web browser to fill out their forms and then file them electronically with the IRS without the hassles of software installation. The downside, of course, is that you have to trust your personal information to the software company and trust that they’re going to keep your data secure. For most people, this isn’t a big issue, but it is something to consider. Express Tax Refund says that they can provide the “fastest possible tax refund”, though it’s not entirely clear how their service is going to be faster than that offered by anyone else. Read on for the remainder of our Express Tax Refund review.
Express Tax Refund Overview
Like other products, Express Tax Refund has you create an account and then log in to their Website to prepare your return. The process of completing your tax return using Express Tax Refund is conducted in the form of an interview, where you are asked questions and you supply the answers in order to complete the forms and to determine which forms you’ll need to complete your return. Express Tax Refund does give you the option of saving your incomplete return and coming back to finish it later, which is a plus. Express Tax Refund Tech support is available online and by telephone. There is also a help page which has a half a dozen instructional videos and a FAQ section with questions and answers about specifics about completing your returns with the Express Tax Refund software.
All of this is functional and easy to work with, and most taxpayers will likely be able to complete their returns, whether they are simple or complex, with a minimum of hassle and trouble. It’s not the interface or the software that are going to give most taxpayers grief; it’s the Express Tax Refund pricing.
We’ve reviewed a number of online tax preparation products and some of them are inexpensive and some are not. Quite a few of them offer free filing for Federal returns while making their money on state returns and others charge a nominal fee for both. A few have multiple editions of the software, with escalating prices as the returns become more complex. It’s a bit different with Express Tax Refund; they start out with a basic price that strikes us as higher than most, and then you’ll likely have to pay for a number of additional products in order to complete your return, including a fee to actually file it with the IRS. In this regard we find Express Tax Refund to be perhaps the most expensive online tax preparation product we’ve seen so far.
The Express Tax Refund Basic Return Package costs $29.95, and includes the 1040 form, unlimited W2 forms, telephone support and the ability to get your return by mail or by download. That’s great; for $29.95, you should be able to complete your return and mail it in and if that’s all you want to do, Express Tax Refund will work just fine. Of course, that’s not going to get you your refund quickly; for that, you need to file electronically, and for that, Express Tax Refund will charge you an additional $20. Filing a state return is an additional $20. You’ll also pay an additional $10 for each of the following:
- Additional Child Tax Credit
- Business Owner
- Child Care Credit
- Earned Income Credit
- Education Tax Credit
- Itemized Deductions
- Moving Expenses
- Non-Cash Contributions
- Sales of Stocks & Bonds
- Self Employment Tax
You’ll see that for many taxpayers, the price can quickly escalate to the $100 range if you need more than one of these extras and you want to file electronically and you can easily exceed that if you’re filing a state return, as well. In fact, Express Tax Refund says that for most taxpayers, the sum of all fees averages about $99.95. While that’s less expensive than having your taxes prepared professionally, it’s a lot more expensive than other solutions that are available for online tax preparation.
One other thing to consider is that no tax preparation software, including Express Tax Refund, can know everything or accommodate all scenarios. The software can handle most situations and deductions, but the biggest problem is that the software cannot tell you about deductions it doesn’t know about. That’s not a fault of Express Tax Refund, because that’s a tax strategy issue. It turns out that millions of taxpayers pay too much in taxes each year, not because they’re using the wrong software but because they’re not aware of all of the items they could be deducting from their income. There are hundreds or even thousands of things you can deduct from your income, but if you don’t know about them, you can’t tell Express Tax Refund about it and as a result, you’ll be paying too much in taxes. It’s not your fault; the tax code is complex and always changing and it’s asking a lot of any taxpayer to stay on top of changes in the tax code that affect them personally. On the other hand, there is a resource that can help you do just that.
In fact, this resource can keep you apprised of all of the changes in the U.S. tax code, explain them in ways that will make sense, in simple English and not in complicated tax talk or legalese. You’ll understand how to put these deductions to use and how you can save money not only this year, but every year. Then you can tell Express Tax Refund about them when you file your return and you can then save money and pay the least amount of tax required. Again, it’s not the job of Express Tax Refund or any piece of software to know everything; it’s up to the tax software to work with the information that you provide it. And the more information you have regarding how you can save money on taxes, the better off you’ll be.