TaxHawk Review 2020
Some of us have more complicated tax situations than others, but we all have one thing in common: we want to get our taxes done right and at the best price.
If you’re a tax filer that’s comfortable doing the preparation, TaxHawk is an inexpensive software to help you get your taxes filed correctly and on time.
In This Article:
What is TaxHawk?
TaxHawk is an online tax preparation software that prides itself on being a truly free or low-cost option for most tax filers, even those with complicated tax circumstances.
Even if you’re self-employed, making freelance income, or have itemized deductions, TaxHawk can help you with your filing.
The free version supports the vast majority of IRS forms and schedules. However, you must prepare these forms entirely on your own. Even though it includes most IRS forms, it is not the best system for those who are looking for step-by-step support from start to finish.
TaxHawk offers three products: their free version, the Deluxe version, and the Deluxe Plus. Each version provides increasingly sophisticated features and assistance with even the Deluxe Plus remaining affordable.
TaxHawk is chock full of useful features that make the process of filing your taxes more manageable.
TaxHawk Free Edition
At the free level, TaxHawk offers three modules:
- Simple: Straightforward tax situations that can be completed with Form 1040EZ or 1040A
- Basic: Moderately complex, such as homeownership, HSAs, and itemized deductions
- Advanced: Covers everything else. Small business owners, side hustlers, freelancers or other less common types of income like farming
Every module includes an accuracy checker that automatically reviews your return and alerts you to anything that doesn’t add up in the system. It’s not perfect, but it’s useful for those who would like an automatic double-check.
As far as accuracy guarantees go, TaxHawk has a pretty standard policy. If you are fined due to a software error, omission, or glitch, TaxHawk will reimburse you. Unfortunately, this does not apply to state returns.
The above modules are available to every product that TaxHawk offers. The products themselves come with a series of features that are more high-level the more you pay.
The free version offers the following features:
- 350+ deductions
- Ability to import prior year’s filing from TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct
- Ability to print finished return now or later
- Write off mortgage and property taxes
- Write off contributions to charities
- Compare your numbers this year with years prior
- Report small business income or contractor income
- Report income from stocks, bonds, and dividends
- Report rental income and expenses
- Get deduction from contributions to your health savings account
If you lose a W-2 or need to get organized, don’t worry. TaxHawk will also help you file an extension for free if you can’t get everything done by April 15th.
They even have a guide on their site that tells you specifically how to file an extension based on which state you live in.
TaxHawk Deluxe Edition
The Deluxe package includes all the features from the free version and offers even more.
With the Deluxe package, you get priority support from customer service professionals. Unfortunately, this is for email only. If you would like more customer service support, you will need to upgrade to Deluxe Plus.
You will also receive unlimited amendments to your return. This feature lets you correct mistakes or allows you to add something new after your return has been submitted at no extra cost.
Finally, the Deluxe package offers audit assist. Audit specialists can answer any questions you have and help you handle an IRS audit with ease.
TaxHawk Deluxe Plus
Lastly, TaxHawk offers the Deluxe Plus package, which includes everything from the Deluxe package plus more customer service support.
The main draw is live chat and phone assistance, which can help those who need extra help walking through the process. This assistance can come in handy with TaxHawk’s self-preparation system.
The biggest question surrounding TaxHawk’s prices is how they make money with free software.
TaxHawk makes its profits by charging for state returns, package upgrades, and other additional options as noted below:
- Deluxe Package: $5.99
- Deluxe Plus Package: $10.99
- State Returns: $12.95/state
- Unlimited Amended Returns: $14.99
- Mailed Printed Return: $6.99
- Professionally Bound Return: $12.99
- Pay For Service With Part of Refund: $19.99 Convenience Fee
TaxHawk also offers additional services that can be tacked on to the overall price. If you would like the option for unlimited amended returns, you can purchase this for $14.99. However, this service is included with the Deluxe package for around a third of the price.
Some people prefer to have a physical copy of their return for record-keeping or peace of mind. You are always free to download the PDF and print it yourself, but TaxHawk offers options if you prefer a professionally printed copy. You can purchase a mailed printed return for $6.99 or a professionally bound return for $12.99.
As far as payment goes, TaxHawk’s options are similar to that of other tax software. You can choose to pay upfront with your credit card for no additional charge, or you can pay with part of your refund for a $19.99 convenience fee.
Signing Up and Getting Started
Signing up for TaxHawk is as easy as signing up for any other tax software. With their ability to import year’s prior returns from other tax software, you can easily make the switch from another software to TaxHawk.
TaxHawk’s software is relatively easy to use but is not as guided as TurboTax or H&R Block’s software. There are no detailed questions about your income, but it will ask helpful questions to guide you to the appropriate software.
They also have help bubbles that pop up throughout the software. This can help demystify some of the jargon and explain details about what’s allowed and what isn’t.
If you don’t have enough information to complete a section at the moment, you can return to it later and complete it before you e-file.
While they won’t hold your hand quite like TurboTax will, TaxHawk doesn’t leave you out to dry. They have pages on their website entitled ‘Top Issues’ and ‘Help with this Page’ that can help with frequently asked questions and particularly tricky parts of your return.
They also have a knowledge base that allows you to search for your question with a search bar and pops up with a detailed answer. This can help if you are confused about a portion of the software or are concerned that you might be filing incorrectly.
TaxHawk’s summary section gives details on the income and deductions you claim. This makes it easy for you to review what you’ve entered and judge if you’ve omitted or incorrectly estimated any critical information.
When it comes to information about your taxes, you want to ensure that your information is secure.
TaxHawk uses multi-factor authentication to make sure that the person accessing your tax information is really you. Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is the best way to make sure that data stored on the web is secured. This authentication can prevent identity theft and keep sensitive information secure from hackers.
When you create an account, you can decide if you would like an email or text as your authentication method. Text is generally more secure because someone could potentially hack into your email.
When you sign in, you will either get a text or an email with a code that you can enter. Once it determines that it is really you, it will proceed with your login.
Customer Service and Support
With the Deluxe Plus package, users have access to the live chat line and phone support. This can help if you need assistance immediately or have a specific question that isn’t answered in the knowledge center.
The customer service isn’t available 24/7. Live chat is available from 8 am to 12 pm Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Saturday. Phone support is available from 9 am to 9 pm Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. This can be an issue if you live on the west coast or have trouble preparing during the week due to a busy schedule.
It is important to understand that the people on the other end of the line are customer support specialists, not tax filing professionals. There is very limited CPA involvement on TaxHawk’s site. TaxHawk’s software assumes experience from their user, so those who are tax filing novices may not benefit from their software.
Pros and Cons of TaxHawk
When it comes to tax software, there are a lot of things to consider. Let’s review some of TaxHawk’s advantages and shortcomings.
- Extremely Low Pricing: While the software is not 100% free, it is quite the deal when you compare it to the price of other tax software. You can prepare your taxes for a negligible amount of your return.
- Robust Knowledge Center: TaxHawk’s knowledge center covers nearly any tax-related topic you can think of. It can be a great tool for people who are confused about the filing process or are confused about their options.
- Bookmarking and Progress-Tracking System: The bookmarking and progress-tracking systems help filers return to sections they need to finish. This is helpful for filers who are waiting for important pieces of information or are filing in stages.
- Not the Best Option for Novice Filers: TaxHawk requires that filers DIY the preparation for their filing. This can be daunting for filers that are new to the process or uncomfortable without major guidance. If you need hand-holding, you should look to more robust software like TurboTax
- Limited Support with Free Program: The free program offers much to be desired when it comes to customer service. They offer a knowledge base and a ticket-based email support system, but it can take up to 24 hours for your email to be responded to, more on the weekends. If you want a better customer service experience, you’ll need to shell out for Deluxe Plus.
- No Overnight Support: The customer service team runs on Eastern Standard Time. This means if you live on the west coast, you won’t be able to call after 6 pm or chat after 9 pm. This can limit when you are able to receive help with your tax filing.
Alternatives to TaxHawk
TaxHawk certainly isn’t the only software out there that boasts low-price returns. The following services compete with TaxHawk on pricing and overall tax filing capability.
TaxSlayer has a more sophisticated input system than TaxHawk. Their system lets you take a picture of your W-2 and automatically inputs the data. They have a free version available for federal and state taxes, but it is only available for 1040 filers. Their packages run from free to $47 for their self-employed package.
Similar to TaxHawk, TaxAct offers free federal filing and state filing for $19.95. There are several filing plans to choose from, which means you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
eSmart Tax, an extension of Liberty Tax, offers affordable tax filing options and is backed by brick-and-mortar locations. They offer free online chat and tech support and have a sophisticated maximum refund guarantee.
How is TaxHawk different from FreeTaxUSA?
TaxHawk and FreeTaxUSA are owned and operated by the same company and share a lot of similarities. Recently, TaxHawk has begun to build its brand separately from FreeTaxUSA, even going so far as to create a new logo.
On the free program, both sites are identical. When you move up through the various deluxe programs, they begin to diverge. FreeTaxUSA Deluxe costs $6.99 compared to TaxHawk’s $5.99. FreeTaxUSA offers live chat at this level, whereas TaxHawk only offers this at Deluxe Plus.
However, TaxHawk offers phone support at the Deluxe Plus level. FreeTaxUSA does not offer phone support at all.
Overall, both systems still wind up being pretty identical with their capabilities, features, and pricing.
Is TaxHawk for You?
The software is not entirely free, but it comes at a massive bargain when compared to software like TurboTax or H&R Block. It is very user-friendly and has a robust knowledge center that can help with tricky filing questions.
Experienced tax filers that would like to save money on tax filing software are the ideal users for TaxHawk. Inexperienced filers may have trouble with their self-guided navigation. Even those with complicated tax filing circumstances can benefit from TaxHawk. Small business owners or side hustlers can greatly benefit as their software accommodates for complicated filings while keeping the price tag at a reasonable amount.