TaxBrain Review

Good

State tax returns can also be handled (but carry a separate fee to file). Multiple web app versions to choose between, with entry level inexpensive. Live chat.

Bad

For complex tax returns the point 'n' click method can actually slow down completing a tax return. Small knowledge base, lack of supporting tax information onside the app.

Overall

TaxBrain offers Questionnaire-based, simple filing approach and can be really good software for beginners.

Editor's Ratings

Get Started

TaxBrain is billed as "America's Online Tax Service" which may be a little of an overstatement, but the people behind the software have a rich 35-year history of dealing with tax preparation so you're in good hands with them.

Interface

The online software itself is designed to be more user-friendly than most. Once you've created an account and logged in, TaxBrain uses a simple "yes" or "no" questionnaire to determine which worksheets you will need. The answers given on the questionnaire can be amended later too, in case your situation changes or you realize that you made an error.

A series of federal worksheets are then laid out based on the questions answered. Completing each worksheet takes a while, but when all worksheets has been properly completed, the tax return is calculated along with any refund that might be due. The tax return can then be e-filed for you.

Paid Version for Advanced Filling

TaxBrain comes in several online flavors. It is free to try up until the point where you wish to use the software to file a federal return. The different versions are present to make basic tax returns affordable to deal with, but more complex ones require a more sophisticated package. It's a useful approach however because the starting cost is only a few dollars and moving up to a more advanced version later should your needs change, the online application will still be very familiar. This cuts down on the learning curve.

State Tax Returns

State tax returns are treated as separate and carry an additional charge. Filing an amended tax return, if the original filing was performed with a TaxBrain product, is also free. There is the option to pay for online storage of several previous years worth of tax returns. An audit defense from a tax professional is another premium service offered for any situation where the IRS have decided to go ahead with a tax audit.

Difference

The online software is supposed to be fast, secure and accurate. The fast part of this is accomplished by sticking to the simple questionnaire approach, which limits the amount of data entry required and delivers a ready e-return in record time. The downside of this approach is that keeping things simple means there is no help with relevant tax information on the screen. This differs enormously from other tax filing packages like H&R Block At Home, TurboTax or TaxACT.

For Beginners

For people with a simple tax situation and basic tax return requirements, TaxBrain is perfectly fine. However, for those with complicated tax returns, small businesses as well as personal tax filings, it will take considerably more time to complete the many forms before the tax return is ready to send in. The lack of relevant tax information for people and organizations with more complicated tax positions will be a major negative when considering TaxBrain as their tax app of choice.

Other Features

One of the pleasing things about this app is that you can access prior year tax returns, going back as far as five years. This can be extremely useful, especially when needing to file an amended return.

Completed tax returns can be e-filed with the IRS. TaxBrain has been in business long enough that the organization has been an authorized IRS e-filer since 1989. The e-Filing process is also free.

With State returns, you can complete your resident and non-resident tax returns at the same time that you put together your federal e-filing. TaxBrain provides access to e-filing and direct deposit payment services for all US States that offer these services.

Overall

TaxBrain has been in business for many years in one form or another. Does a good job in making tax filing as simple as possible. This oversimplification somewhat pidgeon-holes the software as more suitable for people with simple tax filing, and less suitable for complex returns or small businesses.

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