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eSmartTax aims to make the process of filing your taxes more simple and efficient by providing a range of packages and support systems that guide you through the myriad of potential barriers you might face. A key element to this is the eSmart Tax Beta software, a new initiative for 2013 which ensures you get the highest possible refund, powered by the Liberty Tax Service. This is also twinned with live support from tax experts, which can either be emailed or easily contacted using a live chat feature. The live chat is particularly useful because it means you can ask for help as you’re filling in forms or using the Beta software, rather than having to wait for an email response (by which time you may have forgotten what it is you were doing or have worked it out for yourself). In fact customer support is a great benefit of this site and we were particularly pleased to see a range of guidance videos which demonstrate exactly how to navigate the site and software available. This is often more engaging and useful than a written explanation because you can see precisely where you need to click on the screen and how to input your data.
Security is also an important issue for EsmartTax.com and they offer “the most accurate, safe and secure tax preparation” under guarantee. You can file online or, using a hard copy, access one of almost 4000 Liberty Tax locations in the USA and Canada, which maintains a staff of over 23,000 tax specialists. The eSmart guarantee covers 4 key areas, namely Satisfaction, Accuracy, Biggest Refund and Lock-in. Any tax preparation fees are refunded if you are dissatisfied with the service provided, if any miscalculations occur, or if you get a bigger tax refund by using another service. The lock-in guarantee also means that you will get a refund for the amount you were promised when you first started the process. Combine this with certifications from TRUSTe, IRSe-file and GoDaddy.com, as well as the ability to personalise any email information you receive, and you’re in pretty safe hands. The software available also requires no download meaning that your information is safely stored on the site’s system should your computer decide to spontaneously combust.
Our only real bugbear with this site is its navigation. It’s not ‘bad’ or overly difficult to navigate, but there are some irritations which make finding the information you need a little more complex than it should be. Take the home page as an example: you’re presented with the 3 different packages available but then a list of features with a “learn more” hyperlink pops up, seemingly randomly. Even if you hover over the “basic” package, you might be greeted with the “deluxe” package pop up. And although the live chat is a great feature, its tab appears on every page and is too large, the result being that we accidentally clicked on “live chat” several times when trying to click on something else. We realise these are small points, but they did become aggravating because it slowed down our ability to access the areas of the sites that we wanted to. These annoyances aside, the site is generally well laid out, with a lot more colour than you might find elsewhere. eSmartTax.com also doesn’t go too overboard on having text everywhere, instead opting to spread out information and linking you to specific areas of interest.
This isn’t the cheapest tax filing website around and there are others that offer similar features for a lower price. However, the level of support and guidance available is excellent for users who might need help along the way. If you’re on a budget and your tax needs fit into the “basic” package requirements then esmarttax.com is certainly worth a shot.
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