Tuesday, February 14, 2006

eSmartTax Review: Don't Bother

A few weeks ago I posted my price comparisons for tax preparing and filing options. This is primarily of interest to those with an AGI above $50k as there are plenty of free options for the rest of you folks :)

I was excited to find an option that would only cost me $9.95 total to prepare and e-file both my federal and state returns. The only requirement was that I completed my returns prior to February 15th.

The main problem with eSmartTax is that I could rarely move to the next page in my preparation process due to a server side timeout. What that indicates is that they do not have a powerful enough setup to handle the demand and the result is a service that is all but inaccessible. I tried the service before January 31st, I tried it in the middle of a weekday afternoon and I tried it late at night. I always had difficulties with pages timing out. I was able to get most of my information in on one lucky attempt but have been unable to fill in some gaps now that all my documents have arrived and after multiple attempts I am giving up and will choose another method.

Even if their servers were humming along I found other issues with eSmartTax that would prevent me from recommending it. The company that runs eSmartTax apparently got it's start providing electronic versions of forms inside applications like Microsoft Word...and it shows! The interface struck me as such a mid-90's approach and very dated. If I wanted to just fill out tax forms, I'd do it on paper....with a pencil! To me, the power of tax software is an ability to guide a lay person through the filling out of the forms through questions and a clean interface. If you are very comfortable with tax forms, eSMartTax's forms may not be a problem but for the average person I thought this poor interface was not worth the few dollars potentially saved.

And finally, any tax-filing site that hides their customer service contact information under the site map is bozo-tastic in my book. That's just a deal-breaker.



  1. I agree, eSmartTax was like filling out an electronic form of a tax return form. I still haven't received my return. I was just researching to see if they were legit ;}

  2. eSmartTax worked wonders for me. People just need to learn how to read more, and update their firewall or system. Either way, you're paying $10-20. It's a do it yourself tax return. What do you expect?

  3. Chris, my firewall is configured just fine. What I expect for $10-$20 is to be able to actually click "next" or "submit" and have the site NOT return a "server is too busy" message. I tried several times to ensure this wasn't just an intermittent issue with a heavy traffic day. I'm glad your experience was a good one, but I gave them several chances and each time the site just didnt' function. Even for free that's a crappy deal.

  4. Crap. I just filed using eSmarttax and I don't know what to do. I was charged twice, and didn't receive the services- like printing out my taxes. Do you by any chance know what to do? And you are right about anyone who hides their customer care contact information, though I used them last year with no problem. Jennifer

  5. I did my taxes through esmarttax on 1/27/07 and as of 2/1/07 it is is still "processing" to the IRS. This should have taken just 24 hours and and all they can tell me in their slow response to questions is "it was processed to the IRS " and could take up to 1 week. So they lied in their "cycle" chart whne it said the IRS would respond within 24 hours. I will never use them again

  6. I used eSmartTax and have had nothing but problems. Filed on 1/30 it said processing for 4 days, then to be rejected supposedly because my name exceeded 35 characters, which it does not. I resubmitted, took another 3 days to accept but over a month later the payment I owe the Fed still has not been deducted, even though I'm set up for dir debit and state was paid. It is impossible to talk to an actual person even if you pay for the Premium version. I called two local offices, both claim they are not affiliated with the online tax filing software and cannot help with support. Just brilliant. NEVER AGAIN!!!!!

  7. I couldn't see a date on your post so this may be way outdated but info for future inquiries about esmarttax. They are a horrible website. They don't have up to date links on their site therefore cheating you out of thousands of credits on your return. My sister was $2200 below what she should have been and I was close to $1400 out as well. We knew something was wrong and went on to file correctly elsewhere but there is many glitches in their system and I would not reccommend even giving it a chance. Good luck!

  8. Oh and I love and reccommend Freetaxusa.com They were great!I've been using them for 5+ years.
    No glitches, user friendly, not slow, etc.


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