TaxACT.com is a terrible site that will crash your returns
Jan 26, 2006
One of the great things of being a person in the 21st century, is that a lot things have become much easier for the average person. One of the ones that I am most grateful for, is the ability to submit my taxes online. It saves time, and when you have programs computing numbers for you, it saves the potential mistake of a person adding their own numbers incorrectly. The process had become so much easier for me; that is until I decided that I was going to give the TaxACT.com online tax service a try. This was one of my most frustrating experiences ever on a web-site, and I came away so cranky that I came away with quite a bad attitude about everything related to their web-site. It had to be a one time deal right? It could have just been the computer or internet hook-up I was using right? No, the site still rejected queries, crashed on searches, and failed to register input again and again on the second attempt. So, now I find myself needing to write a review to warn people of the risks that they are taking while filling out their with TaxACT.com. Needless to say, you could save time by realizing this is going to be a 2 star review by the time I am done, and that the only thing going for this site is the information about returns that they provide.
Why I decided to give TaxACT.com a try:
I'm not rich and famous, and I live in a state where there is no income tax. What that leads to, is a small refund each year, that actually makes doing taxes bearable. I had just received my W-2 forms, and I wanted to find a program that would let me experiment with numbers, including deductions that I was thinking about taking and potential numbers that I was forecasting I would make in 2006 at my jobs. I wasn't looking to file my return yet, because I will be doing that through an H&R Block program later this Winter, but I did want to be able to go through all of the steps necessary for the return, to make sure that I knew exactly what I was doing. In the past I have had returns where I just moved numbers straight over from my W-2's and 1099's and had my taxes done in around 10 minutes, so I hadn't taken the time to learn all the ins-and-outs of doing my own return. I figured it was about time to make sure that I was taking advantage of everything being offered to me, and if I could find a way to save some money at the same time I was going to jump at it. I ended up coming across the TaxACT site when I was doing a search for Tax information on Google, and seeing that they offered returns free of charge (the charges come when you submit), I thought that I should go give their site a quick try.
The TaxACT.com Web-Site
Going to the web-site (www.TaxACT.com) you quickly discover that they want your personal information before they are going to let you access specific numbers. They request with a huge center graphic that you sign up for one of their tax-filing options, which includes the Standard return, a Deluxe return, and The Ultimate Bundle return.
The Standard Return includes:
The Deluxe Return Further includes ($9.95):
Print & E-file FREE
Extra help & advice from JK Lasser's Tax Guide
Life events guidance
Free phone technical support
The Ultimate Return Adds ($15.95):
Print & E-file federal & state tax returns FREE
I was looking for the free option, so I clicked through and started looking around. Right away you have the ability to do a lot of research through quick links that list State Editions of tax forms, Frequently Asked Questions, How the Online Service works, and links to access your 2004 return if you happened to use the site the previous year. They like to use a quote offered by PC Magazine about how they are a "great, budget-conscious choice", but while it is good on the budget, I don't know how great the site ended up being. When you are ready to start putting information into your return, you can go to any of the 7 sections to start filling out the forms, but of course some of the numbers rely on others, so it is best to go in order. First is the basic information, where you fill in your name, address, etc., so that you will have it in their database when you are checking out from the site. Then it asks for your Life Events which are the jobs that you are in, state you live, and all the information about dependents and children. It leads you into the federal and state information slots, which allow you to enter in deductions, tax breaks, and all other financial information you have for the year. The questions get pretty in-depth, so you will have to have all your forms handy, and if you come across problems they have plenty of help buttons along the way.
My Experience and Thoughts on The TaxACT Online Tax Filing System
Now with all of the things that I said that this site has to offer, I may have made it sound like something that you would want to try and out even file your return on. Well, not so fast, because I have a little bit more information that could really effect your decision to do just that. The set-up of the site is done in such a way that you can never really multi-task on the site. When you are filling out forms on the site, they will often pop up in a different window, with no way to go back a screen once you have submitted one section of a form. That is very frustrating, because if you want to change a number, or realize that you need to add something, you will have to go all the way back to the start of a section in order to get that done. That is where the problems of the site start coming into play. There are only a certain number of things that you can do on the site before it will end up crashing on you. It doesn't matter what your browser is, or what type of computer you are using, if you try to do too much on the site at once, it is going to lead to a lot of problems inside your mind.
The problems include frustration with the software that they use, having to retype information that has been lost while you were using it, and having to relog back in to the site over and over again. With no exaggeration, in a one hour span of using the site, TaxACT crashed on me 18 times while I was loading information. The reason most likely for their problems, is that the site loads so slow that after a while it rejects work being done. It could be due to volume on the site, or it could be because of badly written coding. It really doesn't matter though, because the end result is that the site crashing repeatedly is going to frustrate the heck out of any user. Coming back a second time doesn't solve the problem, because it is obviously an internal site problem. That leads me to the suggestion that you don't use TaxACT to file your income taxes. The reason I ended up giving them 2 stars, was because all of the information on the site, which could turn out to be very valuable to a new user of online tax software. Beyond that though, this really isn't a site that you can rely on to do your taxes, and I would suggest going elsewhere if you want to do all of your returns online.
What product did you purchase or try to purchase? Tried to complete a tax return online
Read all comments (2)