Tax Preparation

Jackson Hewitt 2022: Fundamental and Low-cost Tax Preparation for Everybody

Naomi Antonino/CNET

This story is part of Rates 2022CNET’s coverage of the best tax software and everything else you need to get your return filed quickly, accurately and on-time.

Jackson Hewitt gives taxpayers with uncomplicated returns the option of filing simply, without any hand-holding. If you don’t have a lot of tax forms, you can get the job done with this tax software’s straightforward and bare-bones process.

The big appeal of Jackson Hewitt is the cost — for 2022 it offers online tax filing at a flat rate of $25, regardless of your tax situation. This flat rate is fairly unusual given that comparable tax services offer tiered products with different prices, depending on income or deduction specifics.

Jackson Hewitt’s stripped-down service comes with some drawbacks, though. Its website technology lags behind competitors — there’s no option to upload files or tax forms — and it’s also light on support. There’s no contextual tax help, which can make it difficult to find answers to your tax questions, and you may need to keep a separate browser tab open for online research.

Overall, the platform offers fairly basic and cheap online tax software. If you’re experienced with income taxes and don’t require fancy features or expert help, Jackson Hewitt could be a good option.

Like

  • Bargain price
  • Unlimited state returns
  • Robust security features

Don’t like

  • No importing of forms
  • Less friendly user experience than competitors
  • Minimal support

Jackson Hewitt’s products and prices

Like H&R blocks, Jackson Hewitt sells tax-preparation services both online and at real-world offices, including about 3,000 kiosks in Walmart stores across the US. The cost of filing your taxes with Jackson Hewitt in person varies depending on income type, filing status and forms required.

Jackson Hewitt Online offers two kinds of tax services: file online without help or file online with a tax pro.

Files online by yourself

Jackson Hewitt’s “self-service” option is notable for its flat $25 fee, which includes federal and unlimited state returns. Most other services charged separately for your federal return and each individual state return. And if you file with Jackson Hewitt this year, you’ll lock in the $25 price for the next two years.

With the self-service option, Jackson Hewitt requires you to input your own data. There’s no option to upload any forms or other tax files for automated entry.

All the IRS forms and schedules are included, but you have to make sure that you’ve completed each one required for your particular situation and that the information is accurate. There’s no additional explanation along the way, so you’ll need to figure out complicated forms on your own.

File online with a tax pro

Jackson Hewitt’s Online Tax Pro option uses a separate interface and software. You’ll create an account and answer several tax questions before getting assigned to someone who will assist in preparing your return.

The Online Tax Pro service costs $99, and is comparable to Jackson Hewitt’s Drop Off and Go in-office tax preparation. It’s worth noting the limited hours of the tax pros: They’re available from 6 am to 9 am PT Monday through Saturday, and 9 am to 6 pm PT Sundays.

With Jackson Hewitt’s self-service option, you need to enter all your tax information by hand. With the Online Tax Pro service, you upload tax files and let a tax preparer do the data entry and form completion.

Using Jackson Hewitt online tax preparation software

Using Jackson Hewitt’s online platform feels disconcertingly simple. The software uses a question-and-answer process to collect your personal information, wages and income, deductions and credits, then guides you into various IRS forms based on your answers.

Due to the small boxes on forms, the phrasing of the questions and the lack of contextual help, the whole process might seem as though you’re using a version of the software that the company’s in-office tax preparers use.

Jackson Hewitt offers a “Guide me through all the selections” button or lets you jump directly to entering data for specific sections, but doesn’t provide any navigational outline to help you see where you are in the process.

Even the navigational links to general federal sections like Income, Dependents, and Deductions and Credits disappear once you get into questions and forms. The overall user experience of filing with Jackson Hewitt can be disorienting — and it’s easy to get lost.

Also, filling in all the individual boxes and amounts manually can make the tax return preparation process tedious. Jackson Hewitt works best when there are only a few tax forms to report. If you have a single W-2, Jackson Hewitt software is relatively painless, but if you have a more complicated tax situation, you should consider paying for other software with automated data entry.

The guided interview process can also be a little rough at times, asking questions that you may have already provided information for instead of automatically completing answers with available data. It also requires you to hit “Save” and then “Next,” instead of automatically saving as you proceed.

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Jackson Hewitt

Jackson Hewitt doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app for iPhone or Android, but the browser-based software is optimized for mobile devices and works fine. The spare aesthetics and simple navigation work well on smaller screens.

Like its competitors, Jackson Hewitt displays your running estimated state and federal refunds or owed taxes at the top as you progress. However, you won’t find the help resources of competitive services like Turbo Tax or H&R blocks. If you don’t have a lot of questions, this shouldn’t be a problem — but if you run into any difficult issues, it could be a major headache.

Technical difficulties with Jackson Hewitt

I had some difficulty using Jackson Hewitt’s login service. After getting disconnected from the service and failing to login, the password reset feature didn’t deliver an email to my Gmail account. I wasn’t able to fix the problem, even after phone and live chat communication with support representatives.

I also ran into a few other technical snags. On another trial run of the software, I tried a partial import of my W-2 form using the “Control number” on Box D with a few other details, but Jackson Hewitt’s software failed to find my data — the W-2 partial import has worked this year with other tax preparation software like Cash App Taxes.

I didn’t run into any other glaring technical issues, but I did get a few surprising error messages. Some of the IRS forms can be saved with incomplete information, but others will flash red “required field” messages at the top that again seem designed more for professional tax preparers than regular users.

Who should use Jackson Hewitt tax software?

With its low prices, simple interface and straightforward approach, Jackson Hewitt is best for bargain hunters who just want to finish their taxes and move on with their year.

It’s also a good option for those who don’t like to be bombarded by upgrade offers, advertisements and overly complicated questions. Jackson Hewitt’s user experience fits those who believe “less is more.”

Jackson Hewitt is an especially good deal for anyone who earned money in more than one state and needs to file multiple state returns. Most competitors charge about $40 per extra state return, and some options like Cash App Taxes don’t allow multiple state returns at all.

Finally, Jackson Hewitt could be a good option if you’re not put off by data entry and you don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for professional tax preparation.

Who shouldn’t use Jackson Hewitt tax software?

The bottom line with Jackson Hewitt is that you’re getting simple, flat-rate online tax preparation. If you’re looking for customer service or the ability to upload multiple forms, or if you’re inexperienced with filing tax returns, you should look elsewhere.

If you have a complicated return, or new forms that you’re not familiar with, try another online tax service. The lack of extensive support and explanation of forms could lead to possible errors in data entry or a missed tax credit.

Other notable features of Jackson Hewitt

Jackson Hewitt’s online tax preparation software offers several guarantees:

  • 100% Accuracy Guarantee: Jackson Hewitt will pay IRS penalties and interest that result from software calculation errors. You must notify Jackson Hewitt in writing within 10 days of your IRS notice, and the service will not file an amended return.
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee: You get your $25 fee back if you find a larger refund with another service. This may not be a great deal if you lose big money on your refund.
  • Three-Year Price Lock Guarantee: The $25 fee for tax preparation is locked in for the next two years. It’s a nice incentive to build loyal customers.

Live chat staffed by real people is available via the Help section of the software, but representatives can only answer questions related to the technical service of the website — they can’t answer any questions about filing your tax return.

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Jackson Hewitt

A useful search function in the Help section takes you directly to forms with a keyword or form number search. For instance, type in “child care” to go directly to IRS Form 2441 for child and dependent care expenses. Again, you’ll need to know your taxes well to take advantage of that feature.

Jackson Hewitt’s Security Center might be the software’s most robust feature. Available from a “My Account” link, this page lets you configure or change multifactor authentication, shows current and historical session data and lets you add or remove trusted devices.

Summary

Jackson Hewitt’s online tax preparation software has everything anyone needs to file their own taxes on the cheap. It works best for DIY types who don’t mind data entry, are familiar with their tax situation and know how to report their income, deductions and credits. But those needing support and guidance may be left wanting more.

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