TaxBrain – Simple, Effective Tax Software
There are many online tax preparation products and a lot of them are very similar. Some are clearly better than others, and frankly, some of the Websites we’ve seen for income tax software look rather poor and dated. TaxBrain, in partnership with Liberty Tax Service, has a slick, polished, professional looking Website and offers a number of different tax preparation packages, depending on your needs. You can file both state and Federal returns there and they offer better than average support for those with problems. Read on for our full TaxBrain review.
TaxBrain Tax Software Overview
As with many online tax preparation products, TaxBrain offers four different versions of the software, and you need to choose the one that best suits your needs. More complex returns will cost more. You do have the option of using the software for free and you won’t have to pay until you actually file. That offers you the opportunity to essentially test out the software and see if it meets your needs.
TaxBrain Software Versions
There are four versions of the TaxBrain software:
TaxBrain 1040 EZ – this one is for taxpayers who are single or married and under the age of 65. Your taxable income must be under $100,000 and you may not have any dependents. For this basic version of TaxBrain, the cost is $14.95.
TaxBrain 1040 Basic – This version of TaxBrain covers taxpayers who have dependents, above the line deductions, or retirement income. It also includes all of the features included in the EZ version and costs $19.95.
TaxBrain 1040 Deluxe – This version is for taxpayers who have itemized deductions, need to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax, are first time homebuyers, or who have stocks or capital gains to report. This version costs $39.95.
TaxBrain 1040 Premium – If you have rental, business or farm property, are self employed, or have business assets or depreciation to deduct, you’ll need this version of TaxBrain, which is priced at $69.95.
These versions and prices are for Federal returns only. State returns are extra, and are currently priced between $9.95 and $29.95, depending on the version of the software you’re using.
TaxBrain offers an accuracy guarantee, and if their software makes an error that results in penalties or interest from the IRS, they’ll pay them. They also offer audit protection; while this is included for free in some online tax preparation products, it costs $14.95 extra with TaxBrain. In the event of an audit, they’ll advise you regarding how to handle the matter, though they will not contact or engage with the IRS on your behalf.
Tech support options include live chat, telephone and email, which is a better selection of help than what we’ve seen from most online tax preparation products. TaxBrain also has an extensive online knowledgebase in case you want to research your problems yourself.
As for usage, TaxBrain starts with a questionnaire to determine which forms you’ll need, asking you questions about your investment income, retirement income, household dependents, deductions, rental property and business income. If you’ve used TaxBrain before or certain other software programs, you can import information from prior years’ returns, making it a bit faster to complete your return. You can also import your Federal information into your state return, again speeding up the process. There’s a progress meter on the screen to give you an indication as to how far along you are in the process. When you’re done, you’ll see a summary as well as a preview of your completed income tax return. A SmartOrganizer gives you a tool to help you find the documents that you need quickly. On the whole, TaxBrain is fast and efficient, though it may cost you more than other products, though it will almost certainly cost you less than if you use Express Tax Refund.
Most online tax preparation products, including TaxBrain, can provide you with a fast, efficiently created return and file it for you in order to get your refund as soon as possible. That’s fine, as far as it goes. TaxBrain will ask you about the most common types of deductions, such as mortgage interest, and it handles these things just fine. What TaxBrain cannot do, and what no tax software can do, is help you save money on taxes in ways that the software doesn’t know about. The United States tax code is quite complex; it literally runs tens of thousands of pages. There are changes made to the code every year, with things added and things removed. It’s impossible for individual taxpayers to keep track of which of the changes will affect them personally, though many of the changes will do so. Software such as TaxBrain will keep track of many of them, but there are many ways in which you could save money on your taxes that are fully supported by the tax code but are somewhat obscure. TaxBrain can handle those things, provided that you know about them yourself in order to enter the information. Of course, if you don’t know about them, then you’re just going to end up paying too much in tax, and millions of people do just that every year.
How can you keep up? It seems like an impossible task, and for most people, it is. On the other hand, there are resources that can help you keep track of changes in the tax law and how they can affect you. You can find out about the hundreds of ways that you could be saving money and how to put them to use so that you pay less in taxes, legally. The information will be presented to you in simple English, and not in complicated tax talk that only accountants can understand. Then you can put the information to use and save money on your taxes, not just this year, but every year. TaxBrain is a great piece of software, but it doesn’t know everything. It will help you save money if you can enter the information yourself. There’s no reason to pay more in taxes than you have to, so why not see how to save?