e-File is the newest entrant into the tax software preparation space, founded in 2014. On cost, it compares favorably to its competitors, coming in at half the price of many comparable programs in the market. However, this low price comes with its own limitations. Further, the low-powered software comes with little assistance on how to understand the components of your tax return.
- Competitive price offering with limiting criteria to qualify for its free product offering
- Provides a simpler design and functionality for preparing your tax return
- Geared towards very simple returns or experienced filers looking for a discounted offering
If you have prepared and filed your own tax return numerous times in the past without assistance, and carry knowledge of how to navigate the various tax forms, tax deductions and credits, this is the program for you. The program does not offer a Q&A format for inputting your information and offers minimal guidance or support when preparing your return.
Put simply, e-File is a tax software best geared toward extremely simple returns or those who are experienced with filing their taxes and do not need assistance preparing their returns.
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This e-File tax software review will cover the most important features of note to determine if this tax software meets your needs this tax season.
e-File is based in Virginia and has provided its tax software since 2014. The tax software does not come equipped with the bells and whistles seen on the more-established companies’ programs in the space. Instead, it offers a stripped-down experience commensurate with the lower cost.
And the product is priced to sell fast. In 5 years, it has been used by over 1 million taxpayers for preparing their tax returns. One more note about its target consumer base: the software stipulates you must earn under $100,000, be younger than 65, and be single or married filing jointly with no dependents to qualify for its free federal tax return.
eFile Pros –
- Great budget pick. Cost-effective if you meet the restrictive criteria for its free product. This software package targets individuals with simple tax returns or extensive experience preparing their tax returns.
- Competitive cost. The software offers a free federal return product, though it comes with stipulations. To qualify, you must earn under $100,000, be younger than 65, and be single or married, filing jointly with no dependents. It’s premium product only costs $49.95, less than half the costliest TurboTax product.
- Deduction comparison. After completing your tax deductions on the federal return, the software shows how you compare to the national averages on popular tax deductions. This information can be useful for determining if you fall too far from the averages and could point out possible errors on your return.
eFile Cons –
- Simpler design and functionality. The software design is similar to TaxSlayer’s interface except it offers no video support or thorough explanations. Instead, the guidance and explanations provided (if any) are hardly intuitive. The software is not ideal for the inexperienced tax return preparers.
- Offers no phone support. Currently, the tax software offers no phone support to field questions that may arise during your return preparation. You can attempt to contact the company through email with your questions but this doesn’t have the same help as talking directly to a human on the other end of the line.
- Not suited for complicated returns and those with limited return experience. The software is best suited for basic tax returns or those with experience dealing with various tax forms needed to prepare your return. Because of the simplicity and low-level support offered by the new product, any questions you may have will be difficult to answer from the services offered by the company.
eFile Review 2020, Packages and List Prices
Package Prices & Description
eFile's free federal version allows you to file a 1040 and a state return for free.
This option works for people who don’t have complex filing situations and do not plan to claim any deductions or credits other than the standard deduction, the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit.
The Deluxe package allows for 1099 or W-2 income, itemized deductions and dependents. If you are a small business owner, have rental income, or investment gains/losses, you will need to purchase the top of the line Premium version.
Provides all functionality of the Deluxe version plus added deduction help for business owners, landlords and investors.
Shows Final Calculation by Return Schedule
After you’ve made it through the process of inputting your information into the return, e-File allows you to review all of your deductions and credits claimed by schedule. The feature shows these through a dropdown window to do a final check of all the claims you’ve made on your tax return.
I haven’t come across this feature on other budget tax software. It is a nice feature to see the primary drivers for why you owe more in taxes or you will receive a refund.
Advanced users will find the software’s deduction groupings useful. The software offers self-guided navigation through your deductions and credits and shows them on the side of the screen. The topics covered will help users decide whether a section pertains to them or not.
If it doesn’t, the tax software moves you to the next part of the guide to see if you qualify for any other deduction groupings.
E-File Knowledge Articles
The tax software offers simplicity and a sparse user experience compared to other products. However, it does offer “E-File Knowledge Articles” to explain items you’re encountering on your tax return. The feature allows the user to click on question marks for further explanation of items being asked.
It also simplifies the tax jargon used so most users can enter the correct information into their returns.
Pay with Your Refund
A nice feature to reduce out-of-pocket expenses is the ability to pay for the software with your tax refund. This makes paying for the software easier because it avoids expenses hitting your debit or credit card, allows you to save on making an upfront payment.
Import Previous Year’s Refund
If this is your second consecutive year using e-File to prepare your refund, you can import your tax return from the prior year and have many of your fields automatically populate. This saves you time and hassle.
As a note, if you prepared your return with a competing tax software, you will not be able to import your return into e-File.
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How eFile Compares
|Free version offered?||Simple Tax Returns Only||Simple Tax Returns Only||Simple Tax Returns Only||Simple Tax Returns Only||Simple Tax Returns Only|
|Other Pricing Options (1)||TurboTax:|
(+$39.95/state for Deluxe+;
$49.95 for Self-Employed+)
|Deluxe: $39.95 (2)
Premium: $49.95 (2)
(+$28.95 for unlimited state returns)
|Import Return into Tax Software?||Yes; may import PDF of return from previous software||Allow for a W-2 photo import; can import previous year’s return information from H&R Block on all non-free versions||Yes, may import last year’s tax information or third-party software information. May import PDF files of IRS forms from TurboTax and H&R Block||May upload PDF of previous year’s return;|
pulls in data automatically if used TaxSlayer previous year
|Service & Support||24/7 live support||Phone and live chat; in-person assistance at branch network||Email or phone||Email or phone, FAQs, video tutorials, definitions of key terms|
|Audit Assistance||Provides basic audit support for all returns and personalized audit assessment with Premier||Peace of Mind®, In-person audit support||Audit Defense services||Audit protection included in Premium and Ultimate plans||None displayed|
(2) Discounted prices shown at time of review were $29.95, and $39.95, respectively.
The Bottom Line
Driven primarily by its price, many taxpayers would choose this product because of its value. The product offers a free basic federal e-file which does your federal return for free and only $28.95 for unlimited state returns you need to file.
However, to qualify for the free software product form e-File, you will need to meet some stipulations. Specifically, you must earn less than $100,000, be below the age of 65, and be single or married, filing jointly with no dependents. This last item acts as one of the largest filters for using the software.
Succinctly, the e-File software offers a bare-bones program to file your tax return. The lower cost comes with little-to-no support nor explanations of topics being addressed on your return. Because of this, e-File is a tax software best geared toward extremely simple returns or those who are experienced with filing their taxes and do not need assistance preparing their returns.
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About the Site Author and Blog
In 2018, I was winding down a stint in investor relations and found myself newly equipped with a CPA, added insight on how investors behave in markets, and a load of free time. My job routinely required extended work hours, complex assignments, and tight deadlines. Seeking to maintain my momentum, I wanted to chase something ambitious.
I chose to start this financial independence blog as my next step, recognizing both the challenge and opportunity. I launched the site with encouragement from my wife as a means to lay out our financial independence journey and connect with and help others who share the same goal.
I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed in this post at the time of this writing. Any recommendations made by me are my own. Should you choose to act on them, please see my the disclaimer on my About Young and the Invested page.