Liberty Tax Online is neither the cheapest nor the most comprehensive tax software available. But pound for pound, it seems to offer the best service level at the most reasonable price. Here's our full review.

Lots of people completely forget about income tax preparation until “tax season”. Then when January hits, it becomes a mad rush to get your documents together and file as soon as possible.

But a lot of the work that goes into tax season can be minimized with a healthy dose of advanced preparation. With time left in the calendar year, you still have time for tax maneuvers that can increase your refund.

For example, you can increase your 401(k) contributions between now and the end of the year, and reduce your taxable income. You can also make charitable contributions, or even make an early mortgage payment.

Take advantage of the window that you have right now, and it can result in thousands of additional refund dollars.

Also, scout around for a potential tax preparation software. Maybe you used one last year and were perfectly happy with it. But if you haven’t used an online preparation service thus far, or you’re unhappy with the one you’ve used in the past, now is the time to do some investigating.

We’ve prepared this review of Liberty Tax Online to help you make that decision. Not all tax preparation software works for everyone. But each has its own advantages, that might make it the perfect software for you. In this regard, Liberty Tax Online has some definite advantages.

How does Liberty Tax Online work?

Liberty Tax Online provides tax preparation for both personal and business returns. They even offer Hispanic services for those who speak Spanish.

In person and online services

One of the biggest advantages of Liberty Tax Online is the ability to either file your return online using Liberty Tax Online Preparation software, or taking advantage of the thousands of tax preparation locations the company has all over the country.

You can even purchase an online tax preparation plan, then switch over to an in-person preparation if you reach a point where you don’t feel you can go any further.

Liberty Tax Online has been around since 1997 and is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They currently operate more than 4,000 offices throughout the United States and Canada. They prepare more than two million individual tax returns each year.

Free sign-up

Like other tax preparation software programs, you can sign up for Liberty Tax Online for free, and pay only when you actually e-file your tax return.

Referral program

Liberty Tax Online also has its Send-a-Friend program. You can be paid up to $50 when you refer a new customer to the company.

Liberty Tax Online features

Liberty Tax Online offers the following features, depending on which Liberty Tax Online version you purchase:

  • Free Chat & Email Support. You can access customer support with the free chat tool.
  • Free Tech Support. If you need help after hours you can send an email to the customer support team. They’ll answer your question within 72 hours, so it seems the time delay defeats the purpose of being able to make contact after hours. It might be easier and quicker to wait until the next business day, and use the free chat support.
  • Prior Year Return Access. If you filed your tax return through Liberty Tax Online the previous year, it can be imported into this year with just a click.
  • Competitor Import. Even If you didn’t do your taxes with Liberty Tax Online last year, you can still import the previous years returned from a competitor with just a click.
  • W2 Download. You can import your W2 from many employers quickly.
  • Credit Maximizer. Liberty Tax Online reviews your return for hundreds of credits and deductions, helping you to get the biggest refund possible.
  • Tax Return Amendments. If you have to amend your tax return, you can file the amended return for free.
  • 360 Degree Support. You can get help from a Liberty Tax professional with multi-channel access. You can use live chat, email, social media, or in-person at thousands of company locations.
  • Audit Assistance. Liberty Tax professionals will advise you on any potential audits or inquiries coming from either the IRS or your state department of revenue.
  • Seamless Online-to-Office Transition. If you reach a point where you don’t believe you can go any farther doing your taxes on your own, your information can be transferred to one of the more than 4,000 conveniently located Liberty Tax offices.
  • Free Double-Check at Participating Liberty Tax Locations. A Liberty Tax expert will review your return free of charge. This can be done at a participating office location.

Liberty Tax Online tools

Liberty Tax Online offers several tools and calculators you can use to help you prepare your return. They’re available on the site for free, so you don’t even have to sign up for the service to take advantage of them. But by doing so, you’ll be better prepared when the preparation begins.

Tax Organizer

To help you prepare to file your tax return, and to be as accurate as possible, Liberty Tax Online offers this organizer to help you get your information together.

It will help you assemble all the information you need to accurately complete your tax return.

Tax Calculator

This calculator offers a dry run on your tax return. By inputting information on a few computer screens, you’ll get an estimate of your tax liability or refund.

It’ll give you an opportunity to know what to expect, even before you begin the formal preparation process.

Mileage Log & Calculator

If you have to track mileage for business purposes, you know what a tedious process it is. But with this tool, you can create a mileage log that will record your miles for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes.

You can even include business mileage reimbursement from your employer. You can either download a blank, printable mileage log, or fill in your miles on the calculator directly.

W-4 Withholdings Calculator

If you’ve had to complete a W-4 form recently, then you know it’s not a simple process. There are calculations that must be made, but only after you’ve made a series of sub-calculations. But you can use this simple one-page calculator to do the number crunching for you. It will let you know exactly how much withholding you should claim.

Where’s My Refund

Liberty Tax Online will help you to track your refund by directing you to the IRS “Where’s my Refund?” page. There you can get information about your federal tax refund beginning 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your return.

You enter your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact dollar amount of your expected refund, and the tool will let you know when your refund has been sent or deposited by the IRS.

Liberty Tax Online plans

 Liberty Tax Online Simple
Liberty Tax Online Basic
Liberty Tax Online Deluxe
Liberty Tax Online Premium
Cost$34.95 $44.95 $64.95 $89.95
Features- Free Chat/Email Support
- Free Tech Support
- Earned Income Credit
- Prior Year Return Access
- W2 Download
- Credit Maximizer
- Competitor Import
- Tax Return Amendments
- All the features of Simple
- Itemized Deductions
- Health Savings Accounts
- Self-employment Income
- All the features of Basic
- Depreciation
- Sole Proprietor Income
- Home Office Deduction
- Medical Savings Accounts
- All the features of Deluxe
- Income from Rental Real Estate
- Capital Gains and Losses
- Sale of Home
- Professional Tax Advice

Liberty Tax Online offers four different versions—EZ, Basic, Deluxe, and Premium. Below we’ve provided a description of each plan, as well as the costs involved and the specific features they include. Each version enables you to e-file up to five federal returns and one state return.

Special promotion  – Get ANY of 3 great products for one low price!!

  • Basic Package:  $44.95
    • A simple tax situation, such as single or married with no dependents. Millions of taxpayers qualify.
  • Deluxe Package:  $44.95
    • Lifestyles that are a bit more complicated. You know – kids, investments, child care, college, homeownership.
  • PREMIUM Package:  $44.95
    • Self-employed, such as a freelancer or contractor, or those who have other less common forms of income.

Take an extra 15% off every online tax filing solution use promo code OFFNOW15 at Liberty Tax.

Liberty Tax Online Simple

This is the version for simple returns.

The plan price is $34.95. But it seems to offer more capability than the free or very basic versions of competing services.

For example, it will enable you to include ACA forms (for the penalty for having no health insurance) and child and dependent care credit, as well as non-resident or partial year state tax returns.

Liberty Tax Online Simple features:

  • Free Chat & Email Support
  • Free Tech Support
  • Earned Income Credit (EIC)
  • Prior Year Return Access
  • W2 Download
  • Credit Maximizer
  • Competitor Import
  • Tax Return Amendments

Liberty Tax Online Basic

Liberty Tax Online Basic is for somewhat more complicated tax returns. It’s for filing form 1040. These include families, homeowners, those who itemized deductions, and even those who are self-employed on a limited basis.

The price is $44.95.

Liberty Tax Online Basic features:

  • All the features of Liberty Tax Online Simple
  • Itemized Deductions (Schedule A)
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
  • Interest and Dividend Income (Schedule B)
  • Self-employment Income, including calculation of the self-employment tax (this version doesn’t support Schedule C filing, but likely relates to 1099 income from freelancing and contracting income)
  • Business Expenses—basically, expenses related to your non-W2 income above

Liberty Tax Online Deluxe

Liberty Tax Online Deluxe is the version designed primarily for the self-employed and those who have dependents.

It has a price of $64.95.

Liberty Tax Online Deluxe features:

  • All the features of Liberty Tax Online Basic
  • Depreciation (Form 4562)
  • Sole Proprietor Income (Schedule C)
  • Home Office Deduction (Form 8829)
  • Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) for long-term car and MISAs (Form 8853)

Liberty Tax Online Premium

Liberty Tax Online Premium is the top of the line version and can accommodate the most complicated returns, especially those who have significant investment income.

The price is $89.95 for the federal return.

Liberty Tax Online Premium features:

  • All the features of Liberty Tax Online Deluxe
  • Income from Rental Real Estate
  • Capital Gains and Losses, Profit and Loss, S Corporation (Schedules D and E)
  • Sale of Home
  • Professional Tax Advice

Who is Liberty Tax Online good for?

Those looking for an all-around good tax software

Liberty Tax Online can work well for taxpayers at any level of complication. It’s about middle of the road as far as pricing among tax preparation software packages.

But while it’s not the least expensive, it has an extensive level of tools and services that make it an excellent choice.

Those looking for a mix of in-person and online help

But perhaps what makes Liberty Tax Online stand out above other services is that you can sign up for the software, prepare your return, and if you decide you’re in over your head, or you’ve reached a complication you can’t seem to work out, you can take advantage of the extensive network of offices and tax preparers available through the Liberty Tax Service.

Who isn’t Liberty Tax Online good for?

Those looking for free filing

If you’re looking for a free filing option, it’s not available through Liberty Tax Online. And while the lower grade plans are relatively inexpensive, the Deluxe and Premium versions will work best for anyone who has any level of complication in their return.

Those susceptible to audits

If you’re at all concerned about the possibility of an audit, Liberty Tax Online may not be the best choice. Though they provide a considerable amount of audit advice, they don’t actually represent you before the IRS. In that regard, you might be better off with TurboTax, since they provide a more comprehensive audit package, including direct representation before the IRS.

But for the most part, the ability to shift to in-person assistance from the online software makes this program worth using for just about any taxpayer.

How does Liberty Tax Online compare to other tax software?

With the above information in mind, here is our list of what we feel are the five best tax software plans available, and how they stack up against one another.

 
TurboTax
Liberty Tax Online
H&R Block
TaxAct
E-File
Free Version?
For simple tax returns
Not offered
For simple tax returns
For simple tax returns
For simple tax returns
Other Plans
Deluxe: $39.99
Premier: $59.99
Self-employed: $89.99
Simple: $34.95
Basic: $44.95
Deluxe: $64.95
Premium: $89.95
Deluxe: $22.49
Premium: $37.49
Self-Employed: $59.99
Basic: $7.96
Deluxe+: $23.96
Premier+: $27.96
Basic: Free
Deluxe: $24.95
Premium: $34.95
Import Return from Competitor
Yes, by PDF
Yes
Yes
Yes, from TurboTax & H&R Block
N/A
Customer Support
24/7 Live Support
Chat & email
Live chat & phone support
Email or phone
Email
Business Features
QuickBooks interface
Create W2s & 1099s
Separate plan to prepare business returns for partnerships
N/A
Create W2 & 1099 forms
File employer tax returns
Prepare Forms 1065 (Partnerships)
1120 (C Corps)
1120S (S Corps)
N/A
Refund Tracking
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
N/A
Audit Assistance
Free Guidance + Premium Representation ($44.99)
Assistance only
no direct representation
Free in-person audit support
Assistance only
no direct representation
Direct representation at no extra charge
Learn More

Summary

Liberty Tax Online also is consistently on the lower-cost end of its various software available. For example, the EZ version, Liberty’s most basic plan is just $14.95. But it offers features that are not available with other lower-level competitor plans, including the ability to import prior year’s return from other tax software, computation of the earned income credit, and free access to tax assistance by both email and chat.

Liberty Tax Online is neither the cheapest nor the most comprehensive tax software available. But pound for pound, it seems to offer the best service level at the most reasonable price. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re in the hunt for a new tax software system.

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About the author

Total Articles: 144
Since 2009, Kevin Mercadante has been sharing his journey from a washed-up mortgage loan officer emerging from the Financial Meltdown as a contract/self-employed “slash worker” – accountant/blogger/freelance web content writer – on Out of Your Rut.com. He offers career strategies, from dealing with under-employment to transitioning into self-employment, and provides “Alt-retirement strategies” for the vast majority who won’t retire to the beach as millionaires. He also frequently discusses the big-picture trends that are putting the squeeze on the bottom 90%, offering work-arounds and expense cutting tips to help readers carve out more money to save in their budgets – a.k.a., breaking the “savings barrier” and transitioning from debtor to saver. He’s a regular contributor/staff writer for as many as a dozen financial blogs and websites, including Money Under 30, Investor Junkie and The Dough Roller.