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Susan Tompor: Jackson Hewitt Online launches $25 flat fee; others pitch free

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

Zach Cohen, head of digital products for Jackson Hewitt, said going with one flat price gives consumers the reassurance that they won't be charged more than expected.

"Really, the online tax preparation market has tried to gamify pricing," he said. "But taxes aren't a game."

Anyone who does a quick internet search for online tax filing, Cohen said, will see that almost every single listing says "Free."

"Yet only a very limited number of online filers actually get free tax prep," Cohen told me in a phone interview.

"Companies broadcast free upfront but then they force people to upgrade as they get deeper into the process of preparing the taxes."

The actual price tag for some consumers who go online to use software to prepare their own taxes can end up being $75 to $125 or more, Cohen said.

 

"It's absurd," Cohen said. "And we decided to take a stand."

While many may be happy with a low price guarantee, some who once benefited from free tax software services at Jackson Hewitt might not be thrilled at the standard pricing.

Cohen said the company's research found a pretty limited subset of people actually qualify for free. But he acknowledged that if people are really​ eligible for free, they should use a service that allows them to prepare a return and file it for free.

Before making such a move, he said a taxpayer needs to consider that their tax profile may become more complicated in the near future — such as returns involving online brokerage accounts, a first home, and freelance income.

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