Jackson Hewitt review: A straightforward way to file taxes online or with a pro if you don't qualify for free filing

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  • Jackson Hewitt offers a good online do-it-yourself tax service for a flat rate of $49 for federal and state returns.
  • For a higher price, you can hand off your documents to a tax pro online or in an office.
  • But, if you have a simple tax situation with W-2 income or unemployment income, there are free options elsewhere.
  • See Personal Finance Insider’s picks for the best tax software »

Taxes can get overwhelming, fast. 

If you don’t qualify for free filing and you’re looking for a simple way to prepare your return at an affordable price,  Jackson Hewitt might be a good fit.

Jackson Hewitt’s DIY online package is relatively new, but a worthy competitor to household names like TaxAct, TaxSlayer, H&R Block, and TurboTax. And its full-service expert filing package is flexible, with options to work with a tax professional in person or online.

Here’s a look at how Jackson Hewitt works, how much it costs, and who it’s best for.

 
Jackson Hewitt
Editor’s rating 4.1 / 5
Review summary

Jackson Hewitt provides a streamlined online filing experience for a low flat rate, as well as reasonably priced full-service expert options. The biggest drawbacks are the lack of a $0 plan and features for quick data entry.

Cost of DIY filing

$25

+$24 for unlimited state returns

Details
  • Simple and uncluttered user interface
  • Unlimited state returns for one price
  • Option to hire a tax pro
  • No free package

Who should use Jackson Hewitt?

Jackson Hewitt is a good fit for someone who doesn’t qualify for free federal filing and wants a straightforward and approachable online service for preparing a tax return.  

Filers who are comfortable handling tax preparation themselves will find Jackson Hewitt’s no-frills platform valuable. The guidance is clear and the interface is uncluttered. There’s only one package available for all situations, so you won’t have to spend time deciding between plans or be bothered by offers to upgrade to the next tier, which can happen with other online services.

You might like filing with Jackson Hewitt if you:

  • Are looking for a clear and uncluttered platform
  • Need to file multiple state returns at an affordable cost
  • Want an expert to do your taxes, online or in person

 

You might not like filing with Jackson Hewitt if you:

  • Qualify for free filing elsewhere
  • Appreciate time-saving features like document upload or import
  • Want the option to call on a tax pro for minor questions
  • Have a complicated business ownership situation

How much does Jackson Hewitt cost?

Jackson Hewitt offers a single package for all tax situations that’s cheaper than the lowest-cost packages from TurboTax and H&R Block before applying any discounts.

However, Jackson Hewitt does not offer a $0 package, even for simple tax situations. The IRS estimates up to 70% of Americans qualify for free online tax preparation services, so you shouldn’t pay if you don’t have to.

 

DIY online filing

Full-service expert

Federal return cost

$25

$69 – $249

State return cost

$24

$50

Federal + state

$49 

$119 – $299

Through February 28, 2021, Jackson Hewitt is lowering the cost of preparing a federal and state return to a total of $5 for anyone who collected unemployment compensation in 2020. While this reflects a considerable discount from its regular pricing, filers with unemployment income can find $0 options elsewhere. 

Do it yourself online

Jackson Hewitt’s single, flat-rate bundle covers one federal return and unlimited state returns for $49.   

Homeowners, parents, freelancers, investors, and everyone in between can file with this package. Companies like H&R Block and TurboTax usually charge more as your situation gets more complex, plus an additional fee for each state return you file.

Hire a tax pro

Jackson Hewitt offers three ways to hire a tax professional to prepare your return.

  1. Drop off your income and tax documents at an office and a tax pro will prepare your return and file it. There are nearly 6,000 Jackson Hewitt office locations across the US, about half of which are in Walmart stores. The cost of preparation services will be determined in the store.
  2. Book an appointment and meet with a tax pro face-to-face at a Jackson Hewitt office.
  3. File from the comfort of your couch with Jackson Hewitt’s Tax Pro From Home service. You just need to answer a few questions about your tax situation before getting matched with a pro. You’ll upload your documents to your online account and the pro will prepare and file your return with seven days. You can communicate with them by chat in your account or by phone.

Unlike Jackson Hewitt’s single DIY offering, the Tax Pro From Home service offers three packages that cover varying situations. You can start with the lowest-cost package and if your answers indicate you need a higher-tier package, you’ll be upgraded. For federal filing only, the packages cost $69, $179, and $249. State returns are an extra $50 each. These are on par with H&R Block’s tax pro filing service and a bit cheaper than TurboTax’s. 

If you’re expecting a tax refund, Jackson Hewitt will ask if you want to use part of it to pay for its tax prep services. It sounds more convenient than pulling out a debit or credit card on the spot, but beware: a $49.95 processing fee applies.

How does Jackson Hewitt work?

Jackson Hewitt has been in the business of tax preparation for over 35 years, but has been offering e-filing services for just the past seven years. 

Like most other online tax services, Jackson Hewitt asks you to create an account before answering a series of questions about your income and household. If you choose the DIY option, you’ll be prompted to report your income and other information to see if you’re eligible for any deductions or credits before calculating your tax bill or refund. Jackson Hewitt provides thorough explanations of each tax concept so you know what you’re looking at, and makes it easy to skip around and save your place and come back later.

While there’s no option to upgrade the DIY package to get direct help from a tax pro, customer support is available via chat and phone, seven days a week. If you really need help, you can ditch your online prep (you don’t pay until you file anyway) and book an appointment with a professional.

You can also enlist the help of Jackson Hewitt to resolve tax debt. The company doesn’t list pricing online since it varies based on the specifics of your situation, but you can get a consultation for free.

What do you get with Jackson Hewitt?

  • Document checklist. Before you start filing, use Jackson Hewitt’s handy document checklist to see exactly which forms you’ll need to prepare your return.
  • Reasonably-priced expert help. Jackson Hewitt can pair you with a reliable tax pro who will complete your return for you for less than H&R Block or TurboTax charges. 
  • Mobile app. Work on your taxes on the mobile or web versions, or switch back and forth.
  • Tax return storage: Jackson Hewitt will store your finished tax returns in your account for up to three years (about half as long as H&R Block, TurboTax, and a few others, but still a sufficient amount of time).
  • Accuracy guarantee. Jackson Hewitt will pay IRS penalties and fees related to calculation errors up to $20,000. If it’s determined that you entered information improperly, the guarantee does not apply.

Is Jackson Hewitt reliable and safe?

Jackson Hewitt keeps your information secure with data encryption. It also lets you opt in to multi-factor authentication to verify your identity whenever you log in.

Like other online tax preparers, Jackson Hewitt guarantees it will prepare your return with 100% accuracy and get you your maximum refund, or you’re entitled to get your money back.

Are there any downsides to using Jackson Hewitt?

Some tax services have a document upload feature that speeds up data entry — Jackson Hewitt does not. It only allows W-2 import from a select database of employers. Most of your information will need to be manually input.

While Jackson Hewitt’s flat pricing means you’ll pay less than you would with H&R Block or TurboTax, it doesn’t offer a free option for simple tax situations, such as only W-2 income. Jackson Hewitt offers a good user experience, but not good enough to shell out $25 (or $49 if you’re filing federal and state) when you could file for $0 on another, equally reliable platform.

Self-employed filers with multiple types of income also may not find as much personalized guidance with Jackson Hewitt as they would with a service that caters to self-employed filers and small business owners, like TurboTax.

Tanza Loudenback, CFP®, is the personal-finance correspondent at Business Insider. She writes most frequently about saving money, planning for retirement, taxes, debt management, and strategies for building wealth. Have a money question for Tanza? Fill out this anonymous form.

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