eSmart Tax Review

If you’ve never heard of eSmart Tax, you’re not alone. eSmart Tax is owned by Liberty Tax, which currently has more than 3,000 tax preparation offices nationwide. While not for everyone, eSmart Tax offers a long list of features especially well-suited for small business owners.

Quick Hits

What We Like

  • Includes Schedule D for S Corporations
  • Offers good tax resources for filers
  • Good expense deduction capability

Could Be Better

  • Help options within the application are limited
  • No mobile app
  • Free plan omitted from website offerings

The Blueprint Score

Determined and ranked by our resident expert based on firsthand knowledge and unbiased research.

Ease of Use 7/10
Support 9/10
Pricing 9/10
Features 7/10
7.8 out of 10
Updated January 16, 2020

eSmart from Liberty Tax offers easy online tax filing. Like its competitors, eSmart Tax uses the interview style throughout the tax prep process, though its layout may be better suited to those already familiar with online tax preparation applications.

eSmart Tax offers three fee-based plans — Basic, Deluxe, and Premium — with the Premium plan designed for small businesses.

eSmart Tax also offers a free plan, although you would never know it by looking at its website since it’s not listed anywhere on the plan page.

Overview

Who is eSmart Tax for?

eSmart Tax is designed for families and those who wish to itemize deductions, as well as investors and small business owners. Though eSmart Tax can readily handle simple tax returns, there are other applications that are more suitable for single filers or those with less complicated needs.

Features

eSmart Tax’s features

eSmart Tax uses a fairly straightforward tax preparation process, offering all features and functions typically found in tax preparation software including complete Form 1040 preparation, a state filing option, Affordable Care Act (ACA) forms, the ability to enter itemized deductions, and the option to import prior-year returns.

eSmart Tax does not offer a mobile app, so if you need to use the application from your smartphone, you’ll have to access it via a web browser.

eSmart Tax offers both a maximum refund guarantee and an accuracy guarantee.

In addition, those using the Premium plan can have their completed return reviewed by a tax pro prior to filing, and if you really get stuck, you can go into one of Liberty Tax’s 3,000-plus locations to get in-person help if needed.

The application also includes a variety of features specifically aimed at small businesses, including support for Schedule D, which is used to report gains, profit, and losses for S Corporations. Here are some other features useful for small businesses.

Sole proprietor income

Along with your W-2s, if you have any, you can enter all types of income in eSmart Tax, including 1099-MISC income, interest and dividends, investment income, and any income derived from real estate holdings.

eSmart Tax Income selection screen with description on different kinds of income you may need to be file for.

The income section in eSmart Tax lets you choose the income streams you wish to access.

The income section lets you choose the areas you wish to access, or you can opt to be guided through the entire income process, entering information when prompted.

Data importing

eSmart Tax offers good data importing options, allowing you to import last year’s tax return, even if you filed with a competing service. In addition, you may be able to import W-2s and 1099s, depending on what payroll service issued them, eliminating the need to enter information manually.

Tax resources

The Tax Resources page on the eSmart Tax website offers valuable tax-related information such as Taxes 101, which describes how various life events such as marriage and the birth/adoption of a child can affect your future tax liability.

eSmart Tax resources page with shortcuts to Tax 101, ACA, State & Federal Help, and Calculators.

eSmart Tax resources provide information on everything from Taxes 101 to ACA details.

Tax calculators are available for general tax planning purposes, and both state and federal help, including access to state forms, is available for those who need to file a state return.

Credits and deduction filing

Including deductions in a tax preparation application is standard practice, but eSmart Tax allows you to easily explore and calculate a variety of deductions including itemized deductions, a home office deduction, and self employment and business expense deductions.

eSmart Tax Deductions & Credits page with information about Home & Property, Charity, Education, etc.

eSmart Tax offers a variety of deduction categories to choose from.

In addition, eSmart Tax also looks at charitable donations, educational expenses, and employee and miscellaneous expenses, such as medical expenses and any retirement and investment credits you may be able to use to reduce your tax liability.

Ease of Use

eSmart Tax’s ease of use

eSmart Tax uses the standard interview process throughout the application, though it does offer an opt-out for those who just want to access specific forms. If you’re new to eSmart Tax, or even new to filing your own taxes online, I recommend you use the interview process.

eSmart Tax, like all tax preparation applications, will sign you out of the application automatically if there’s no activity.

However, once you sign back in, instead of returning to the page you were on, you’re returned to the general information page, and you will then need to navigate to the page where you left off.

eSmart Tax onboarding interview questions requesting information such as full name.

eSmart Tax guides you through the tax preparation process using interview questions.

The eSmart Tax navigation screen is simple enough for those new to online tax filing, guiding you through the entire process, though once you’re through the initial information interview, you’re presented with a long list of features and functions to choose from.

While this can be great for the experienced filer, those filing for the first time might find the options overwhelming.

Another source of frustration is the Help feature, which is accessible from within eSmart Tax. The search function is not very intuitive and can produce some questionable results.

For instance, when I entered “W-2” in the search field, I was provided with a list of forms, rather than help with or information on W-2s specifically.

Pricing

eSmart Tax’s pricing

A free edition of eSmart Tax is available, though it’s not accessible from the pricing page. Instead, you can start the filing process, and if you meet the requirements for free filing, which only supports Form 1040 EZ, you won’t be charged.

I’m not sure why the free plan is omitted from the eSmart Tax website, but that’s likely to cause a lot of confusion for customers.

eSmart Tax pricing page in three tiers depending on desired features.

eSmart Tax displays offers three paid plans on its website, but the free plan isn’t displayed.

Each plan in eSmart Tax supports a variety of forms and schedules:

  • Basic: Supports Forms 1040 and 8853 as well as Schedules A and B.
  • Deluxe: Supports Forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 8839, 8853 and Schedules A, B, and C.
  • Business: Supports Forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136, 4684, 4835, 8839, 8853 and Schedules A, B, C, E, F, and K-1.

Right now, eSmart Tax is offering all three of its plans for $44.95, with state returns an additional $36.95, making it a bargain for Premium plan users, though like any tax preparation application, pricing is likely to change at any time.

Support

eSmart Tax’s support

eSmart offers free email and chat support for all plans, while Deluxe and Premium users also have access to telephone support from a tax professional.

In addition, product support can be accessed via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, though this is only for general questions. Help can be accessed from within the application, though it’s limited to searching the knowledge base or emailing your question to the support team.

Benefits

Benefits of eSmart Tax

eSmart Tax offers several benefits not typically found in other tax preparation applications, including the option to file S Corporation returns using the Premium plan. Low cost is another benefit, as is free audit assistance, which is included with all plans.

eSmart Tax page promoting its enhanced audit assistance product.

Enhanced Audit Assistance (purchased separately) offers additional audit protection features.

If you’re looking for even more audit protection, consider purchasing Enhanced Audit Assistance for $29.95. You can also choose to purchase the eSmart bundle, which includes the Enhanced Audit Assistance along with five-year safekeeping of your return and a printed, bound copy of your return.

Is eSmart Tax right for your business?

It depends. While eSmart Tax offers a good selection of features, particularly for small business owners, it has its share of frustrations, including an inadequate help function, lack of phone support for the Basic plan, and text-laden pages that you may be inclined to skim or skip.

But if you’ve prepared a tax return or two and are looking for an application that can file your business return properly, eSmart Tax certainly deserves a second look.

FAQ

eSmart Tax Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a mobile app for eSmart Tax?

There is no separate mobile app available for eSmart Tax, but you can access the application using a web browser.

Is audit assistance available in eSmart Tax?

Professional audit assistance is available for all eSmart Tax plans at no additional cost. In addition, you can opt to purchase Enhanced Audit Protection for $29.95, which offers guidance and assistance from Liberty Tax Professionals.

Does eSmart Tax offer live support options?

Email and chat support is offered with all plans, with the Deluxe and Premium plans also offering telephone support options.

How eSmart Tax Compares

Product Mobile App Live Support Imports Tax Document Images Maximizes Deductions
eSmart Tax Yes Yes Yes
TaxAct Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes
TaxSlayer Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes
H&R Block Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes Yes
TurboTax Self-Employed Yes Yes Yes

If you have experience filing taxes and you're looking for a small business tax filing software, consider trying out eSmart Tax.