TaxHawk Review – Free Tax Filing Software

TaxHawk is one of the few online tax preparation platforms with free federal filing for the vast majority of filers, even those with complex situations involving self-employment and freelancing, itemized deductions, capital gains, equity investments, and less common forms of income. And state returns are under $15.

If you do need to upgrade, all paid plans are under $25, with state returns under $15.

The catch is that the prep process is entirely DIY. If you’re looking for an online tax prep platform that holds your hand from start to finish, stop reading right now and check out our TurboTax review. But if you’re an experienced filer who values money savings above all else, it might be time to check out TaxHawk. 

TaxHawk Plans and Pricing

TaxHawk has three plans. Regardless of the plan, same-year state returns cost $12.95 to $14.95 apiece, depending on when you file.

Unlike most tax prep programs, TaxHawk differentiates plans by their features and value-added services, not the complexity of the tax situations they can handle.

1. Free Edition

TaxHawk’s Free Edition includes your federal return at no charge. 

With virtually every IRS form available, the Free Edition is appropriate for almost any tax situation, from the very simple to the very complicated (including investors and the self-employed). However, it has only the most rudimentary support features, so it’s not ideal for novice filers.

The Free Edition supports virtually all IRS and state forms. On the federal side, that means Schedules A, B, C, D, E, and K. Whether you own your own small business or need to report capital gains from the sale of a home, you’re covered here.

2. Deluxe Edition

TaxHawk’s Deluxe Edition charges $6.99 to file your federal return. It’s appropriate for filers who need additional support and value-added service but aren’t willing or able to pay for full-service tax prep at competitors like TurboTax and H&R Block.

The Deluxe Edition has all the forms you get with the Free Edition plus:

  • Priority Email Support. Deluxe users jump the email support queue, which comes in handy toward the filing deadline.
  • Free Unlimited Amended Returns. The Deluxe Edition lets you amend and refile as many prior-year returns as you like at no additional charge.
  • Audit Assistance. This informational service includes access to on-staff audit specialists trained to answer specific questions about the IRS audit process and audit-related IRS correspondence. They can review correspondence and answer questions about your tax situation. However, this feature should not be confused with actual audit representation, which some online tax prep platforms offer for an additional charge.

3. Pro Support Edition

TaxHawk’s Pro Support Edition costs $24.99 to file your federal return. Its selling points include live phone support, personalized tax advice, and access to a certified public accountant or enrolled agent during tax season.

The Pro Support Edition includes all the features available in the Free Edition, plus:

  • Live Phone Support. Pro Support users can speak directly with in-house tax experts during extended business hours.
  • Live Screen Sharing. TaxHawk’s screen-sharing tool allows you to collaborate directly with the company’s tax experts to work through issues that arise while preparing or filing your return.
  • Personalized Tax Advice. TaxHawk’s on-staff tax experts are available to answer tax-related questions and provide detailed, actionable advice you can use to prepare your return and optimize your tax situation for the future.
  • Tax Preparation and Filing Assistance. TaxHawk’s on-staff tax experts can also help prepare and file your return at no additional charge. But that’s a last resort. Not all Pro Support users get one-on-one help from professionals. 

Additional Features of TaxHawk

Regardless of your chosen plan, TaxHawk has some notable features perfect for DIY filers.


TaxHawk has three modules:

  • Simple is for filers with straightforward tax situations.
  • Basic is for moderately complex situations: homeownership, health savings accounts, and itemized deductions. It also includes support for the earned income tax credit.
  • Advanced is for everyone else: people with multiple income streams, small-business owners and solopreneurs, investors, and folks with less common types of income (such as rental property owners and farmers).

All three modules are free by default unless you want the additional features of the paid packages.

Interface & Flexibility

TaxHawk’s interface is pretty flexible. Once you complete the personal information section, you can move through the income, credits, and deductions sections at will. 

If you don’t have enough information to complete a given form at a given time, no sweat. Just leave it and move on. You can return at any point before you e-file.

Once you’re into the meat of your tax return, you can answer questions in an interview-style process, enter data into form fields manually, or alternate. Filling forms out manually isn’t recommended for novices, as TaxHawk’s help resources are relatively thin and IRS publications are mind-numbing (and time-consuming) to pore over.

Bookmarking System

TaxHawk’s prep interface has a bookmarking system you can use to flag specific sections or pages within sections for future reference. It’s particularly useful if you want to begin your return early but lack all the information necessary to complete a particular portion. Look for the bookmark icon on the prep interface’s upper toolbar.

Progress Tracker

TaxHawk’s progress-tracking tool shows at a glance which sections you’ve begun, which you’ve completed, and where you are in each one. It’s labeled “topic list” in the interface.

It doesn’t drill down too far into the details, but it provides a nice overview for filers who plan to work on their returns over several sessions.

Real-Time Refund or Liability Display

Like most online tax prep programs, TaxHawk has a real-time tax refund or liability display that changes as you move through your return. It’s on the right sidebar of your return.

Importing Capabilities

TaxHawk allows prior-year return importing from TaxHawk, TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct. Before you import your return, convert it to PDF format and save the file.

Beyond prior-year returns, TaxHawk’s importing capabilities are severely limited. You have to manually enter information from income and lender statements (1099s and 1098s, for instance). If you earn income from lots of different sources or actively trade equities, you’re likely to face a data-entry marathon with TaxHawk.

That said, if your money is more valuable than your time, this might be an acceptable trade-off. And if you have just one or two sources of income, you’re not likely to notice the lack of importing capabilities at all.

Knowledge Base

TaxHawk has a company-generated knowledge base stocked with common tax- and platform-related help topics. You can find answers to most basic tax questions, but more advanced or complicated issues probably require a visit to the IRS’s website or a human-to-human interaction with someone on TaxHawk’s support team.

Email Support

TaxHawk has a fairly rudimentary ticket-based email support system. Get started by clicking the Support button on the right sidebar of the prep interface or the footer on the TaxHawk homepage. 

Expect a response within 24 hours during the week, though it takes longer on the weekend. You can’t get in touch with TaxHawk’s support team by phone with the Free Edition — for that, you need to upgrade to Deluxe or the Pro Support Edition.

Deluxe customers can reach support by live chat between 8am and 12am Eastern Time, Monday through Saturday. Phone support is available between 9am and 9pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Storage for Completed Returns

You can store your completed returns in TaxHawk’s free cloud storage capsule at no additional charge. There’s no sunset or capacity limit. If you’re nervous about cloud storage, you can download your return as a printable PDF as well.

Support for Prior-Year Returns

You can file prior-year federal returns going back to 2010 at no charge. Prior-year state returns cost $14.99 apiece.

Accuracy Checker

TaxHawk has a built-in accuracy checker that automatically reviews your return in real time and flags entries that don’t make sense to the system.

For instance, if you tell the program you own your home and indicate you plan to take the standard deduction, the accuracy checker will prompt you to reevaluate. It may well be that taking the standard deduction is the right call, but it’s always nice to double-check.

While the accuracy checker isn’t clairvoyant and often triggers false alarms, it’s a helpful fallback for hurried filers prone to errant clicks or misplaced numerals. 

Pay With Your Refund

If you’d prefer not to pay your prep fees with a credit or debit card, TaxHawk allows you to pay with your refund. There’s an additional fee for this service.

Accuracy and Maximum Refund Guarantee

TaxHawk has an industry-standard accuracy guarantee. If you incur a federal tax liability or penalty due to a tax software error, omission, or glitch, you’re entitled to reimbursement.

Unfortunately, this guarantee doesn’t hold for state returns. If something goes wrong on that front, you may be on the hook for the full amount.

TaxHawk also has a maximum refund guarantee. If an identical return prepared with a TaxHawk competitor nets you a larger refund or smaller tax liability, TaxHawk refunds your prep fees.

Advantages of TaxHawk

TaxHawk’s has many advantages for confident filers who have experience doing their own taxes, including: 

  • Extremely Low Pricing. TaxHawk is among the best online tax prep values, bar none. If you want the most cost-effective solution to your annual tax ritual, and your tax situation is too complex for big-name tax prep programs’ free versions, it’s unlikely there’s a better alternative.
  • Handy Bookmarking System. TaxHawk’s prep interface has a superior bookmarking system compared to competitors. It’s great for filers who plan to fill out their returns in stages. 
  • Useful Progress-Tracking System. TaxHawk’s progress-tracking system is similarly user-friendly. It shows which sections you’ve visited, which you’ve yet to visit, and what you can do in each. 
  • Flexible Interface. TaxHawk’s prep interface is a lot more flexible and user-friendly than some higher-priced alternatives. Once you get past the initial information entry and importing stage, you can freely move between and within sections. 
  • Good Value for Pro Support. TaxHawk’s Pro Support Edition costs about $25 for your federal return and under $15 per state. That’s a great deal next to other pro-assisted tax prep options, especially for more complicated situations.

Disadvantages of TaxHawk

Some filers should think twice about preparing taxes with TaxHawk. In particular, it lacks support resources for users who don’t upgrade and isn’t the best choice for inexperienced filers.

  • No Full-Service Prep Option. TaxHawk’s Pro Support package is nice for filers who need some extra help, but it can’t replace the hands-on attention you get with a traditional accountant or compete with full-service options like TurboTax Live. 
  • Limited Importing Capabilities. TaxHawk’s importing capabilities are pretty limited by competitors’ standards. If you filed with a service other than TaxHawk, TaxAct, TurboTax, and H&R Block last year, you’re out of luck. And TaxHawk also lacks 1099 importing capabilities. 
  • Not the Most Mobile-Friendly Platform. TaxHawk has grown more mobile-friendly over the years, but it’s still near the back of the pack on this front. Filers who prefer tablets to laptops or desktop machines should think about mobile-friendly alternatives, such as TurboTax.
  • Limited Support With the Free Edition. TaxHawk is not the most novice-friendly online tax prep platform around. That’s especially true for the Free Edition, with a support infrastructure consisting of a comprehensive but tough-to-navigate knowledge base and a ticket-based email help system that’s not appropriate for urgent queries. 
  • No Overnight Customer Support. TaxHawk’s human customer support team isn’t on duty overnight or on weekends. Deluxe and Pro Select customers lose access to live chat at midnight until 8am and on Sundays. Phone support is available between 9am and 9pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
  • No Audit Representation. TaxHawk doesn’t offer tax audit representation for any customers. The Deluxe and Pro Support Editions’ audit assistance module is useful, but it’s no replacement for expert guidance through the audit process.

How TaxHawk Stacks Up

TaxHawk has carved out a niche for itself as a low-cost, high-value online tax prep provider. How does it stack up to Jackson Hewitt Online, a better-known competitor in the discount space?

TaxHawk Jackson Hewitt Online
Free Plan Yes, appropriate for all situations None
Expert Assistance Yes, Pro Support plan starting at $25 Yes, full-service tax prep for $99 (state and federal)
Pay With Your Refund? Yes, for an additional fee Yes, for an additional fee
Most Expensive Plan Cost  $0 with the Free Edition plus under $15 per state if applicable Starting at $25 (state and federal)

Final Word

Online tax prep isn’t immune to inflation. Like most products and services, it seems to get a bit more expensive every year. I’ve been reviewing tax prep software for several years now, and I’m without fail dismayed — though of course not surprised — when I return to the space each winter and find formerly free plans behind newly erected paywalls.

Along with its spirited cousin FreeTaxUSA, TaxHawk remains a low-cost oasis in an increasingly expensive online tax prep landscape. Though it’s not for everyone, it fills a crucial niche for confident, frugal filers.

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