Which online tax company is the best?

Jun 1, 2001

The Bottom Line Know who your really dealing with and be sure support is readily available at no charge.

Currently there are over 44 listings on Yahoo for Online Tax Software.
With such a broad array of companies listed its no wonder taxpayers have their heads spinning trying to figure out which one to use.
Some people look for the lowest cost or free services Ė but that may not always be to their benefit. (see advice at http://www.epinions.com/content_1594073220 )

Personally my highest concerns with working on the Internet are security and support. I want to know that the company I am giving my private information to is reputable and wonít sell my personal info to other companies.
Well when it comes to doing your tax return online you can rest easy. When companies agree to the terms the IRS sets for e-file they are strictly forbidden to use any of your personal information for any type of marketing. Also, none of your data can be sold to other companies. The only information a company may possibly use would be on an enrollment form that is filled out separately from your tax return. Also your statistical information such as state of residence, filing status, number of dependents and income level may be grouped together with other filers in order for companies to create demographic charts Ė but thatís ok since the information is not linked to you directly and only serves the purpose of companies determining the demographics of their users.
So make sure the company you select is an IRS Authorized e-file provider.

Good support is a key element for me. Too many companies are turning towards self-service support models in an effort to manage high traffic volumes. Users are forced to search for answers in mass databases before they are offered solutions on how to contact support directly. And there are often fees for contacting support and long distance calls you have to make in order to speak with anyone directly.
Doing your own taxes can be scary business, if a company wants me to use their service, and pay them for it, they should be willing to hold my hand once in a while when I need it. Unanswered e-mails to support and long distance calls just is not going to cut it! Some companies donít offer any support at all. You can pay them but you are on your own when using their service.

It may also be good to know who you are dealing with when you go online to do your taxes. Out of the 44 listings I reviewed on Yahoo!, I only actually found about a dozen companies that actually let you do your taxes online without any downloads or software to install.
Many of the listings were the same e-file company under different names. Many of the companies listed donít even do taxes online! They want you to fax them all of your private information, or download forms, fill them out and mail the forms to the company.
In the event your return had errors your going to have a hard time getting those issues worked out if everything is going back and forth via fax and mail. No thanks!
The fees these companies charged were anywhere from $2.95 to over $200.

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