Express Tax Refund's embedded browser taxed our patience

Skip this Web-based tax tool in favor of better-performing freeware.

The ability to electronically file your federal and state taxes may be the nearest thing to pleasant in the whole taxpaying experience, except for getting a refund. To e-file your taxes, you need some form of tax software. You have many choices, including some free tools (usually just for federal taxes) as well as shareware e-filing tools and on and up to major personal finance and accounting packages, some of which might cost more than your tax bill. RT Software's Express Tax Refund is typical of tools offering one-stop e-filing, with a secure, Web-integrated interface and functionality, step-by-step operation, and various pricing options for extra capabilities. It's free to try, with limited functionality, and the full version costs $29.95.

We chose Express Tax Refund's trial option and clicked Create a New User on the log-on dialog. The program's frame and left-side menu buttons rendered cleanly, but the embedded Internet Explorer main view failed to load. We verified our Internet connection, security software, Web browsers, and other possible obstacles, but Express Tax Refund's central window still showed an IE error message, even though IE worked normally. Closing and reopening the program produced a runtime error message. We tried opening Express Tax Refund with and without IE as our default browser, again with no luck. It's possible the site that the program links to might have been down, though the developer's site worked fine. But we tried it in two different Windows 7 installations over an extended period of time, and each time the Web app crashed, though the developer's Web site remained accessible in IE and other browsers.

With so many alternatives available, we certainly don't recommend expending a lot of effort trying to make Express Tax Refund work, unless you have a special reason to use it. And we can't really recommend Express Tax Refund under the circumstances, either. But other users have done so in the past, with few complaints, so perhaps the best course is to include it in your evaluations, if it sounds like a good fit to your needs. It's free to try, so no worries there.

Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Express Tax Refund 2013.

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments