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TaxACT Online Ultimate 2011

*Est. $18
Reviewed
March 2012
by ConsumerSearch
TaxAct logo

Pros
  • Fast and accurate
  • Good for straightforward returns or confident filers
  • Inexpensive
  • Includes free state tax prep and e-file
  • Includes all electronic federal tax forms
  • Online version works with Windows, Mac and iPad
Cons
  • Tax advice isn't as easy to understand as rivals'
  • Imports fewer document types than rivals
  • Download/boxed version isn't Mac-compatible

TaxACT tax preparation software is quick and accurate, according to reviewers, but it isn't as sophisticated as more-expensive tax software like TurboTax Deluxe 2011 (*Est. $50) or TurboTax Premier 2011 (*Est. $75). However, if you have a fairly straightforward tax return or don't require much handholding, reviewers say TaxACT Online Ultimate 2011 is a bargain: It includes free state tax prep and e-filing, something you won't get with even the costliest versions of TurboTax or H&R Block At Home.

If you don't need state software, you can save more by opting for TaxACT Deluxe 2011, which omits it. There's also a less sophisticated TaxACT Free Edition that experts say is the best choice among free tax software. The online versions of TaxACT are most popular with reviewers; there are also downloadable and boxed versions you can install on your desktop, but they're Windows-only.

We found the best reviews of TaxACT Online Ultimate 2011 at PCMag.com and PC World, which test and compare this tax preparation software to market leader TurboTax and other tax-prep rivals. The New York Times tests the desktop version of the same TaxACT software. About.com publishes a brief hands-on review of the entire TaxACT lineup.

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TurboTax Deluxe Federal + E-file + State 2011 [Old Version]
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $59.95   
Average Customer Review:  
Where To Buy

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

TaxACT's tax-prep tools, guidance and speedy, easy-to-navigate user interface "would likely meet the needs of the majority of U.S. taxpayers," Kathy Yakal says. She still gives the Editors' Choice award to TurboTax, which includes more tax help and allows you to buy audit support, but she says the cheaper TaxACT "should be your first stop," especially if you're looking to save money.

Review: TaxACT Online Ultimate Bundle (2011), Kathy Yakal, Jan. 26, 2012

2. PC World

Yardena Arar calls TaxACT "the outstanding bargain option among tax sites." It doesn't offer the robust built-in help topics that TurboTax does, and it can't import as many different types of data, but it's otherwise full-featured and much cheaper than TurboTax.

Review: Tax Sites: TurboTax Is Still the One to Beat, Yardena Arar, Feb. 16, 2012

3. The New York Times

Tim Gray lodges the same complaints against TaxACT that other critics do: The built-in tax help is "the least helpful of the three" major tax software brands, and Gray can't get TaxACT to import his prior year's tax return information. Still, TaxACT smoothly handles a tax credit for a new high-efficiency wood stove -- a credit that stumps H&R Block's tax software in Gray's test.

Review: Taking Tax Software for a Walk, Tim Gray, Feb. 11, 2012

4. About.com

Shelley Elmblad, About.com's guide to financial software, calls TaxACT "a great value," In all versions. She finds it easy to navigate and useful for both simple and complex returns. Her one complaint is that when she searches for tax help, TaxACT often refers her to the IRS's wordy, hard-to-understand official publications. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)

Review: TaxACT Tax Software Review, Shelley Elmblad, Dec. 8, 2011

Tax Preparation Software Runners Up:

TurboTax for iPad 2012 *Est. $30 and up to file (free download)

2 picks including: Los Angeles Times, Macworld…

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