If you want to do your taxes on your tablet, get the TaxACT Deluxe Tablet App 2012. Unlike its rivals, TaxACT's app works with both iPad and Android tablets, and lets you switch back and forth between your tablet and computer. It's every bit as capable, but just one-third to one-fourth the cost of the other guys.
Simple and seamless. This year, TaxACT optimizes all of its online programs for tablets. Whether you use your tablet to log into TaxACT Online Free Edition 2012 or TaxACT Online Ultimate 2012 (*Est. $20) with all the bells and whistles, you'll get a tablet-centric experience. Or you can download the free TaxACT Tablet App and do your taxes offline, although the app crashed for several early users. If you want to move between your tablet and computer, TaxACT does so seamlessly, unlike its competitors.
The TaxACT app works in the usual way, asking you simple questions as it fills out the proper forms for you. Navigation tabs, arranged down the left side to maximize your tablet screen's real estate, let you finger-tap to skip around in your return if you like. "TaxACT's user interface is rearranged for the tablet version, but it's just as effective," says Yakal. "Actually, I prefer it."
If you get stumped, tap the Help link for built-in guidance that's easy to understand, she adds. Expert tax guidance is a free email or phone call away for paid users; free users get free email help and can pay $8 for a year of phone support. Yakal finds TurboTax's help the clearest and easiest of all, but she says TaxACT's is pretty close.
If you decide to do your state tax return, all of your federal data will automatically flow into the state forms with no need to retype, Yakal says.
No mistakes reported. Math errors aren't an issue with tax software, experts say. The computer always gets it right, and TaxACT's tablet app is no exception. However, you can still get the wrong answers on your tax return if you input incorrect data. And if the software asks confusing questions, it can cause mistakes. That happens in one test of TurboTax for iPad 2012 (*Est. $30 and up to file (free download)) , but we found no reports of errors in any expert or user review of TaxACT's tablet programs.
Another place errors can creep in is with photo-snaps of W-2s. TurboTax for iPad lets you take a picture of your W-2 form with your iPad camera and import it, but it sometimes gets the numbers wrong in tests. TaxACT's tablet app doesn't photo-snap W-2s. Like all good tax prep software, this tablet app double-checks your answers at the end. It flags mistakes and lets you correct them right on the screen, without having to dig back through your return.
Same features as rivals at a fraction of the price. TaxACT's Deluxe version is best for most users, Yakal says. It imports last year's return, includes a donation assistant to help you value the stuff you gave to Goodwill and all the other extras most people expect. Plus, it's only $10 to file your federal return, one-third the price of similar TurboTax and H&R Block At Home programs. State e-file costs just $10 more, less than a third of what the other two brands charge. TaxACT's $20 Ultimate version is the Deluxe version bundled with a state return.
TaxACT's Free version is more bare bones, but you can still file even the most complex of federal tax returns for free; state prep and e-filing cost $15. With the free app, you get a unique bonus: "You can use it to create as many returns as you want" for free, says About.com's Shelley Elmblad. "No other online or mobile tax app offers this right now."
Data import is limited compared to other brands. You can grab last year's TaxACT return, W-2s, Schedule K-1 data, capital gains transactions from GainsKeeper and stock transaction information from brokerage companies and TradeLog. "It may not download financial data from as many sources as TurboTax," says Yakal, but you do get the free TaxACT DocVault with all TaxACT programs. "You can take pictures of receipts, invoices, tax forms, etc. through the year and store them in this free app for use when tax prep times rolls around," she explains.
Audit defense costs $40 more. If you buy it before you file, a tax pro will represent you in case of an audit, handling all communications and meetings for you and negotiating with agencies to minimize financial impact for as long as your return can be audited. TurboTax charges $60 for the same service, and it's free with H&R Block At Home's tax-prep programs.
Review Credibility: Excellent TaxACT Deluxe Tablet App is "the clear winner" if you want to do your taxes on your tablet, says Yakal. It works with more devices and costs less than apps from TurboTax and H&R Block, and it's an equally good program.
Review: TaxACT Deluxe Tablet App (for iPad), Kathy Yakal, Feb. 20, 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good About.com's guide to financial software explains how the TaxACT tablet app works. Elmblad says it's compatible with Android as well as iPad, unlike the iPad-only apps from TurboTax and H&R Block. TaxACT's app also lets you create an unlimited number of free federal returns, which "No other online or mobile tax app offers… right now."
Review: TaxACT Mobile Tax Apps for Tax Year 2012, Shelley Elmblad, Not dated
3. Google Play
Review Credibility: Fair You can find user reviews for Android apps here, and this site could be helpful if more people post comments on the free TaxACT app. However, just more than a dozen users share feedback. All rate the app a perfect 5 stars, but reviews sound very similar and are posted within the same week of October-November 2012 when people don't ordinarily do their taxes, which smacks of fake reviews.
Review: TaxACT Free Federal Edition, Contributors to Google Play, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good TaxACT's free tablet app gets mixed reviews here. Some users say it works fine, but several say it crashes or doesn't load at all. About a dozen users rate the current version.
Review: TaxACT Free Federal Edition -- Prepare and E-file Your Federal Tax Return Free, Contributors to iTunes, As of March 2013