At a Glance
Because TaxBrain is the priciest of all the online tax services we reviewed--charging $90 to $100 to complete one federal and state return--we expected a shebang of a product. What we got instead was a major disappointment that included a bare-bones design, no as-you-go refund ticker, and very few links to help information.
TaxBrain started out by asking us questions about our personal data, income, and tax-deductible contributions and expenses. It then listed all relevant forms and worksheets by their IRS name (W-2, Form 1099, Schedules A-D), putting checkmarks next to the ones we'd finished. Because its online forms closely replicate the actual IRS forms, TaxBrain might appeal to tax pros who just want to fill out their actual returns via the Web. The W-2 forms and Form 1099-DIC for investment income looked like the real things, making it easy for us to fill in data to the corresponding box.
However, we certainly didn't get much guidance from Tax Brain for learning the hows and whys of the tax code. And although live customer support is free, forget about calling on evenings and weekends--the most popular times to do tax returns--because phone help is available only on weekdays till 4 p.m. PST.
A "preview return" link let us look at our entire return, including all schedules. This feature was very helpful for looking for data-entry errors. If you need no tax guidance and like the look and feel of actual IRS forms, you might find TaxBrain to your liking. But for $100-plus to fill out near-replicas of federal and state forms, we expected more tax help and an easier-to-use interface.