HomeTechLiberty Tax 2024 (Tax Year 2023) Review

Liberty Tax 2024 (Tax Year 2023) Review

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Like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax offers online, DIY tax preparation with the option to get additional support and guidance from its financial professionals in offices. Liberty’s website performed fairly well in testing, but its user experience and help tools need improvement to compete against the best tax preparation software. PCMag’s Editors’ Choice winners for online tax software are Intuit TurboTax, which gives you the best overall experience; H&R Block, which has excellent context-sensitive help; and FreeTaxUSA, which lets you file your federal return for free (state returns cost just $14.99). Each supports all major forms and schedules, though their strengths—and prices—vary.


How Much Does Liberty Tax Cost?

The Basic tier of Liberty Tax ($55.95 federal, currently marked down to $45.95) supports W-2 and unemployment income, the Earned Income Credit, and taxable interest of $1,500 or less. It assumes you’ll claim the standard deduction. Deluxe ($75.95 federal, currently marked down to $65.95) is designed for taxpayers with taxable income under $100,000. It supports dependents, itemized deductions, and investment or retirement income. Premium ($95.95 federal, currently marked down to $85.95), which we tested, covers everything, including rental, real estate, and farm income, as well as self-employment. State tax prep and filing costs an additional $36.95 for all product levels.

These prices are high considering what you get. You can file for free using Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma Tax). It’s free for both federal and state filing and supports all major IRS forms and schedules. However, it does not work for certain tax situations, such as if you have to file a part-year state return, multiple state returns, or have foreign earned income—those are just some examples. Another option is Editors’ Choice winner FreeTaxUSA, which is free for all-inclusive federal returns and $14.99 per state. However, with those services (especially Cash App Taxes), you sacrifice when it comes to online taxpayer help, which most of us end up needing at some point during the process.

PCMag Logo Filing Your Taxes Online: What You Need to Know

Is Liberty Tax Safe to Use?

Liberty Tax maintains physical, electronic, and procedural security measures that comply with applicable legal and regulatory standards to safeguard your personal information, like multi-factor authentication. The company follows generally accepted standards, such as encryption and secure socket layer technology, to protect the personal information you submit, whether that information is in transit or at rest. Since no method of transmission over the internet and no method of electronic storage is completely secure, Liberty Tax says it cannot guarantee its absolute security. PCMag also recommends taking standard security precautions when entering financial or personal identifying information on a website and using a trusted network (like your home Wi-Fi).


How Does Liberty Tax Work?

Liberty Tax breaks down complicated IRS forms and schedules into smaller, manageable chunks. You don’t see the official documents until you finish and print them. The site takes on the digital persona of an in-office tax preparer and asks you a lengthy series of questions about your tax-related circumstances. It asks for personal information first and then shows lists of the income, deductions, and credits the IRS wants to know about.

a partial view of Liberty Tax’s Personal Information page

(Credit: Liberty Tax/PCMag)

You select the tax situations that apply to you (also called tax topics) one at a time and work your way through multistep wizards, providing answers by entering data in fields, choosing options from drop-down lists, or clicking buttons. The site does all the necessary calculations and records your answers on the correct lines on the official IRS forms in the background. Then, it reviews your return and moves the relevant data to any state returns you need to file.

Different data entry option on a 1099-B page in Liberty Tax

(Credit: Liberty Tax/PCMag)

Besides having an exceptionally plain user interface, Liberty Tax uses some nonstandard conventions, one of which caused me to lose at least a half hour in data entry time. It requires you to save some pages rather than saving them automatically. All competitors, except for Jackson Hewitt, save automatically. Worse, Liberty Tax logged me out while I was actively entering data on a lengthy business page that could take hours to complete if you have a lot of expenses.

If you click Cancel without saving, a pop-up message tells you that your data will be lost if you don’t save. You have to click a link that says, “Save my progress…I’ll finish this form later.” Another unusual feature: When you log into the site, it takes you to the beginning instead of asking if you want to pick up where you left off, like TaxAct and others do. That eats up more time. These operational problems—and more—have existed on the site for years.


What Kind of Help Does Liberty Tax Offer?

Liberty Tax’s online help is in short supply. You can chat with or send email questions to technical support specialists or enter words or phrases in a search box. Search results give you little more than links to forms. However, a search occasionally returns a few FAQs about the requested topic—or unrelated ones. Sometimes, links on interview pages open help windows containing brief explanations. Sometimes, warnings pop up in small windows. For example, when you enter real estate taxes, Liberty Tax tells you to be sure you haven’t entered them elsewhere.

Sometimes, but not always, the site breaks out topics and provides additional information. For example, it asks questions to determine if your dependent qualifies for the Child Tax Credit. This depth occurs at some points on the site, but it’s more likely that you won’t get enough guidance on individual topics. TurboTax and H&R Block are masters at providing an enormous amount of guidance, clearly written and context-sensitive, everywhere you turn.

A help window in Liberty Tax

(Credit: Liberty Tax/PCMag)


How Does Liberty Tax Deal With Self-Employment?

Liberty Tax is comprehensive when it comes to providing interview content for self-employment. It supports Schedule C, including coverage of topics like the 1099-NEC, 1099-MISC, business use of home, and vehicle expenses. You can also enter all income and general business expenses.

The site took me on two different paths while completing a Schedule C and related information. Once, it showed me voluminous fields on one page, which is when I lost data, as mentioned above. Other times, it showed one or two questions at a time on individual pages. It does the latter throughout the site, wasting page space and user time. Considering Liberty Tax’s price, gig workers should consider FreeTaxUSA instead, which offers much more help for free.

The business expense page in Liberty Tax

(Credit: Liberty Tax/PCMag)


Does Liberty Tax Check Your Return?

Liberty Tax does not let you advance to the next page if you haven’t completed the current one, so the final review is unlikely to find any data entry errors. It has an exceptionally good review process, though. It identifies forms that you started but didn’t complete and allows you to finish them (these were often forms that the site brought in from my 2022 return). Unlike some competitors, it takes you directly to the page you must correct and then returns you to the review, which is helpful. 

If you’re not getting a refund from the IRS and will instead have to pay, there are a couple of options. You can have the money withdrawn from your checking account through the Liberty Tax site. You can also submit your payment on the IRS’s Direct Pay site via credit card or bank account. For state taxes due, contact your state department of revenue.

A partial view of Liberty Tax’s Federal Review

(Credit: Liberty Tax/PCMag)


Can You Do Your Taxes on Your Phone With Liberty Tax?

Liberty Tax doesn’t have a standalone mobile tax-filing app for Android or iOS, but you can complete and file a return in the browser on your phone or tablet. The mobile site offers access to all the features and content included in the desktop version, except for a real-time total of your tax refund or obligation, which you see when you use the desktop browser version. 

The mobile site performed well in testing, though I encountered the same navigation quirks I saw on the desktop. I actually preferred working on my phone because the mobile version doesn’t have so much empty space.

The Android mobile website for Liberty Tax, showing pages for dividends, home office, and medical expenses

(Credit: Liberty Tax/PCMag)


It’s Fine If You Already Use It

We don’t recommend Liberty Tax to new customers considering its price and its dearth of online help, but if you’ve used it in the past and want to continue, it gets the job done. There are many better options, though, such as Editors’ Choice winner FreeTaxUSA, which is free for federal filing and only costs $14.99 for state filing. Intuit TurboTax and H&R Block are our other Editors’ Choice winners, though they’re also the most expensive. TurboTax provides the best overall tax filing experience, while H&R Block has the best contextual help.

While you’re considering your options, you can read up on seven ways to minimize your taxes and what to do if you can’t pay your taxes.

Liberty Tax 2024 (Tax Year 2023)

The Bottom Line

Liberty Tax is a competent online tax preparation service from the well-known brick-and-mortar tax preparer, but it’s held back by a dated interface, awkward navigation, and gaps in its guidance.

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