eSmart Tax Software
ESmart's tax return software boasts an updated, user friendly interface with a straight forward filing process. Users enjoy easy access to live chat that smooths out the bumps in preparing your tax return. The deduction resources are not comprehensive, but with its affordable price, eSmart is a top choice for taxpayers whose needs are relatively straightforward. There is no software to download, and federal e-filing is free for the most basic returns.
How eSmart Works
Esmart is an online service for filing your taxes. It does not require a software download. Visit the eSmart site, and just like most tax software products, they slam you with the claim that they'll get you the biggest possible tax refund while making it super easy to file. There is also a banner boasting you can start the process for free. There is a grain of truth in these advertising claims, as users with a simple tax situation can indeed breeze through and file for free. Most of us will need one of several paid versions of the service, utilizing multiple forms. There is a charge for federal filing with specialized forms, and an additional charge for state filing.
Access to Tax Professionals
All versions of eSmart provide support at any office of Liberty Tax Service throughout the United States. You can talk to an experienced tax professional in person with questions about your tax filing. There are 4,400 Liberty Tax locations in the United States and Canada, with 23,000 certified tax preparation experts on staff.
Access to Prior Year Returns
With eSmart, you can import your prior year tax returns from many of the competing online tax software products including TurboTax, H&R Block, and others. This is indeed a smart feature, making it easy to switch to eSmart if you are looking for a new tax software product.
There are four versions of the eSmart tax filing service available, aimed at people in different tax situations. If you are not sure which to choose, there is a guided questionnaire at the site to help you select the version that works best for you. You'll provide information about the past years finances to aid in the choice.
All four versions of eSmart include free live chat and email support. There are tools to download a W-2 from your employer, import last year's return from competing tax software products, and to access affordable care act forms.
You can save returns for five years. They state that they guarantee the biggest refund, accuracy and customer satisfaction.
eSmart free edition
If your tax filing is simple enough to use the form 1040WZ, you can use the eSmart Free federal edition. You'll have access to all of the common eSmart features as listed above, and you can elect to do state filing too for an additional $22.95 fee.
eSmart Basic Edition
The Basic Edition of eSmart is a good match for families with dependents, as well as those with simple income from stocks and investments that can be listed on Schedule B. This version provides assistance handling dependent deductions and health savings accounts. It also allows for you to file itemized deductions on Schedule A. The federal e-filing Basic Edition of eSmart tax costs $14.95, with state filing available at an additional $26.95 fee.
eSmart Deluxe Edition
Deluxe eSmart tax is a great choice for a sole proprietor, independent contractor or freelance business owner, and for investors. It has all the features of the basic edition, and adds instructions on items like a home office deduction and asset depreciation. You can master the joys of the Schedule C for sole proprietors, deducting business expenses and putting more of your profits into your pocket. The Deluxe Edition runs $19.95 for federal e-filing and an extra $26.95 for state filing.
eSmart Premium Edition
The Premium eSmart Tax filing option is targeted at small business owners who have complex tax situations. With this edition of eSmart, you can maximize small business deductions, the sale of a house, or income and deductions related to rental properties or real estate. You have access to expert guidance and advice regarding the sale of business assets, or gains, profits and loss for S corporations (Schedule D). The Premium Edition rate for federal e-filing is $34.95, with state filing costing an additional $26.95.
eSmart vs. The Competition
How does eSmart online tax filing compare to the competition? They are a relative newbie to the online tax service provider business, but stack up fairly well against more established companies. It's pretty cool that you can visit one of their offices if you are really stumped, but better check first to see if you'll incur additional fees. Their prices for the online software services are very reasonable.
Some users prefer downloadable software, but for others it's not an issue. ESmart lacks an interactive forum where the community of users can communicate. The program would benefit from a deduction discovery tool, and there is also no tax calculator.
eSmart Company History
ESmart Tax is owned by Liberty Tax, a company founded in Canada in 1997, when John Hewitt took over an existing tax franchise company. In 1998 Hewitt created the Liberty Tax name and had five tax offices located in the United States. Liberty Tax franchises are now located throughout the United States. In 2012 they were listed on the Forbes Top 20 Franchises, the only tax franchise company on the list.
eSmart Customer support
One super cool feature if eSmart is you can visit any Liberty Tax location to get help. There is a tool in the software to find a location near you. Email and live chat support is available, and there is a FAQ page at the site.
In terms of consumer reviews, the system has received very good ratings on Knoji.com and Top Consumer Reviews and a decent 3 out of 5 on Reviews.com.
Verdict - Good
While this system is not suited to everyone, it is a decent and affordable choice for those who have some experience in filing returns. The Basic Edition of eSmart is a good bet for families with a fairly straightforward tax picture. It allows itemized deductions, reporting of simple investment income and those all-important dependent deductions. If your taxes are more complex, some comparison shopping is a good idea.