TurboTax, by the software company Intuit, is the best known and most widely used tax preparation program. It was developed by Michael Chipman in the mid-1980s, well before the PC was in just about every home. Intuit acquired the program when they bought the Chipsoft company. Read our full TurboTax review to see if having over 30 years of experience makes for the best tax prep software.
TurboTax Pros & Cons
- Easy to use with interview style questions
- Their support and knowledge base is top of the line
- Product features are top notch
- The free version is more limited than some of the competitor’s free versions
- Higher price point than most of the competition
Even if you’ve never used TurboTax you’ve heard about it. The name is synonymous with tax preparation and they’ve been around over 30 years. For a piece of software that’s basically forever. They have an excellent product but keep in mind that it comes with a higher price tag too.
Of all the tax prep software out there TurboTax, in our opinion, is the easiest to use. The software is well designed and straight forward. As you go through the interview style questions TurboTax will keep you informed with a red banner, telling you how far you are in the process.
The questions are asked in plain English so you’re not left scratching your head as to what they are asking. If you do get stuck though they have a searchable knowledge base and support.
With TurboTax you can import W-2s or take a picture of them and the software will sort it out for you. Everything is cloud based so you can work on your taxes anywhere you can get online.
All versions but the free one get access to an app called ItsDeductible. With this, you can look up the value of and keep track of donations you’ve made during the year.
The Self-Employed version has an additional expense tracker feature. You can link it to your credit cards and bank account and you can have it automatically record your expenses. It’s helpful at tax time and can also be used throughout the year.
TurboTax’s pricing is very much the same as H&R Block in that the first 3 packages are priced the same. The difference here is H&R Block only has 3 packages while TurboTax has 4, with their self-employment package being the most expensive. H&R Block allows you to do more for less. With that said TurboTax is still the gold standard and it’s up to you whether you want to pay more for it or not.
Below are the 4 TurboTax packages:
TurboTax Packages and Prices
|Federal Free Edition||Federal: $0
You can file the 1040A and 1040EZ with this option. You won't be able to save your taxes.
With the Deluxe edition, you get the ability to itemize your returns. You'll also get access to SmartLook; live one-way video chat support with a tax professional.
Premier has everything Deluxe has plus the ability to report rental or investment income.
This version is for those running a full-fledge business or those who are self-employed.
TurboTax offers comprehensive support to their users. They offer a searchable knowledge base, tutorial videos, an online community for support and SmartLook for users that have paid for it. SmartLook is live, one-way, video help from a tax professional. You can ask them state and federal tax-related questions so long as you don’t get too crazy into local tax codes or unrelated topics like a bankruptcy or estate taxes.
SmartLook is live, one-way, video help from a tax professional. You can ask them state and federal tax related questions so long as you don’t get too crazy into local tax codes or unrelated topics like a bankruptcy or estate taxes. You’re now able to schedule a call if you need to do it at a later time.
SmartLook is available to all users that have a paid version or those with the free version that have purchased the Plus add-on for $29.99.
Audit Support comes with all versions of TurboTax. This means if you’re audited TurboTax can give you guidance and let you know what to expect during the audit. But in the end, you’re still on your own.
If you’re looking for full support, including full representation by a tax professional, you’ll want to get the Max Assist and Defend add-on for $44.99. This is up to you, chances are you’re not getting audited, but this is just like any form of insurance. You buy it hoping to never have to use it. Keep in mind you can’t wait and buy this after you find out you’re getting audited.
Getting Your Refund
You can get your refund direct deposited into your bank account or sent as a paper check in the mail. You can also have it applied to your next year’s taxes or have the IRS purchase U.S. savings bonds with your refund.
TurboTax has a NetSpend prepaid Visa that you can have loaded with your refund. If you are using a paid version you can pay for it out of your refund but there is $34.99 charge. In California, there is an additional charge of $39.99 as it’s bundled with a Premium Services package. You can cancel this beforehand to avoid the charge. Try to find another way to pay for TurboTax, since these fees are really just extra costs you don’t need to pay.
TurboTax Reviews From Around the Web
|Better Business Bureau||3.73/5 - 54 Reviews|
Business Contact and Profile for TurboTax (Intuit, Inc.)
|Name:||TurboTax (Intuit, Inc.)|
|Address:||PO Box 7850
Mountain View, CA 94039-7850
|Type of Business:||Computers Hardware, Software & Services|
|Principal:||Brad D. Smith, CEO|
|BBB Accreditation:||This organization is not BBB accredited - A+ rating|