No one’s ever said, “Let’s all spend the evening having fun and filling in our tax returns.” Tax paperwork is boring and seems to be made to confuse the average person.
Maybe the government thinks that if they confuse us too much, we won’t be able to cook the books. Whatever the reason, tax season is not a fun time of year for anyone.
It is fun to get your refund, but how can you be sure that you’ve gotten every cent possible?
Visiting a CPA solves both the problem of completing the return and maximizing your refund, but it can get expensive. Liberty Tax claims that their tax preparation software is an affordable alternative that gets the same great results.
Is it as good as claimed? In this Liberty Tax review, I’ll answer that question.
How Liberty Tax Works
Liberty Tax is pretty simple. You sign up for an account, choose the package that you want to use based on how complex your tax situation is, and then follow the step-by-step instructions.
You’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire, and this will give the program the information that it needs to complete your return. The system does all the number crunching for you. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s painless.
How the Liberty Tax Questionnaire Works
The questionnaire goes through all the basics needed to select which forms you need to complete and what supporting documents you’ll need to hand in. The system notes your answers so that it can match the forms you need exactly.
What Happens Next
The system will calculate the results and ask you to confirm that the information is correct. You do have the option of asking a consultant from the company to check your return to make sure that everything is correct.
If you choose to add that extra layer of authentication, you’ll just need to take it to the nearest branch for a free check.
You can skip that step if you’re happy with the results and feel confident that everything is correct. Once you’re sure, you submit the form. The company then transmits it to the tax office, and you wait for them to process it.
Liberty Tax Features and Benefits
There are quite a few features available to Liberty Tax users.
- Credit Maximizer: You want to be able to get back every cent you’re allowed. The Credit Maximizer feature will go through the details that you’ve provided and find as many legal deductions and credits as possible for you.
- Import forms: With this feature, you can download your W-2 and previous tax return, and the relevant information will populate into the new form automatically. There’s no need to worry about missing anything or transcription errors.
- Audit support: If there’s one word that you don’t want to hear in relation to your taxes, it has to be “audit.” Liberty provides an audit support service to help you if you’re unlucky enough to be audited.
- Tons of online calculators and tools: Aside from the fun value of these tools, they are also extremely useful. When you’ve finished playing around with how much tax you’d pay if you earned a million dollars a month, there are some useful organizational tools here as well.
- Expert advice: As a client, you have access to a team of tax experts. They can help you to deal with any questions that you might have when completing your return.
- Free amendments: You might think most tax software would allow you to file amendments for free. It turns out that, in most cases, you pay close to full price for an amendment, but not with Liberty.
- Idiot-proof interface: With so many online services, you hit a wall when it comes to interface usability. In this case, the interface is so simple you won’t need a kid to help you navigate it. It’s pared down and purely functional.
- Plenty of support: If you have a query, you can phone in, email, drop into one of the 4,000 branches, hit the company up on social media, or use the instant chat option. There are tons of ways to get the help that you need.
- In-person assistance: If the online app isn’t working out for you, you can transfer over to one of the branches for in-person assistance.
- Advance on your refund: If you can’t wait to get your hands on all that tax money, the company may be able to help you out with an advance in the meantime. It works similar to a payday loan – when the refund comes in, you pay back the advance plus interest.
Liberty Tax Plans and Prices
- EZ: You’ll pay $14.95 to file your federal return and $39.95 for your state return. This is the most basic option and will work for very simple returns. If yours is a simple calculation without itemized deductions, for example, this option will be fine.
- Basic: You’ll pay $28.95 to file your federal return and $39.95 for your state return. This option encompasses more but is still pretty basic. You’ll have access to the deduction schedule so that you can itemize your deductions, but there’s not a whole lot extra here.
- Deluxe: You’ll pay $43.95 to file your federal return and $39.95 for your state return. This gets you quite a bit further than the previous option and is a good bet if you have a more complicated return. This package is a good option for a freelancer, for example.
- Premium: You’ll pay $69.95 to file your federal return and $39.95 for your state return. If you have a complex tax return, this is the option that is going to work best for you.
Results and Accuracy Guaranteed
The biggest benefit of filing with Liberty Tax is the certainty that your filing and returns are done properly.
The company promises to get the best possible results and create completely accurate returns.
A promise like that can be worth the money if you’re concerned about a particularly complicated tax situation or want to ensure you get the best return possible.
While Liberty Tax has some promising features, there are also some areas that could be improved upon.
- No free packages: There are no free tax filing packages at all. Most companies would offer the most basic package for free to give you a taste of what to expect. With Liberty Tax, the most basic option is going to cost you $14.95 for just the federal return.
- Pricing model: The pricing itself could be improved. The Premium package is on par with what the rest of the industry charges, but we felt that the Basic package was on the expensive side. You’re paying double what the EZ package offers without getting a lot more.
- No 24/7 support: There’s no 24-hour instant chat option. This is a basic industry standard that is sorely lacking here. Few people actually work on their personal tax returns during normal business hours.
- Site login time: The overall site experience was positive, but it does sign you out quickly for inactivity. It would help if you had more time before the site decides that you’ve been inactive on it for too long.
While I might not recommend that just anyone rush out to buy the EZ package in a hurry, Liberty Tax is an advantageous tax filing software for some cases.
To be fair, the free packages on the market don’t allow you to easily download your W-2 or your previous tax return, but you’ll need to decide whether that’s worth paying for.
Overall, Liberty Tax offers customers a solid product. The tax software could stand to make some improvements, but overall its issues are relatively minor.
If you’ve got a very simple return, head off to one of the other sites and file it for free. However, you should consider the Premium package if your needs warrant it as it offers you good value for the money.