The 10-second review
TurboTax is widely considered the leading choice for those who prefer to prepare and file their own taxes. Its intuitive design and top-notch user interface coupled with various options for importing tax documents and “live” human support make it a popular choice for many.
However, it is worth noting that TurboTax’s products come at a higher price than some competitors, and those on a tighter budget and who are confident in their ability to file their own taxes may be able to find better value with other tax filing software packages.
See more about the tax software package and key features below.
Is TurboTax The Right Choice?
TurboTax is a leading online tax preparation software platform that is known for its user-friendly design and flow. It essentially guides users through the process of preparing and filing their state and federal taxes, and allows for immediate payment, filing, and receipt of returns.
It also offers a range of features and the option for human assistance, which can be helpful for those who need extra support with their taxes.
While it may be more expensive than other options on the market, many users find that the added convenience and live tax expert support are worth the extra cost.
I also like their guided tax calculator to see which TurboTax package is the right choice for maximizing your refund.
Additionally, TurboTax allows users to pay its fees using their federal refund with their permission and offers a guarantee to cover any IRS or state debts resulting from a calculation error.
TurboTax has a long history in the tax industry, dating back to the mid-1980s. It is owned by Inuit, a company that offers a range of financial services, including the financial tracking app Mint and the small-business accounting software QuickBooks.
Product Versions and Cost
TurboTax provides several versions of its tax software packages to cater for the different needs of taxpayers. You can start filing via their free version, which is tied to your income and tax return complexity, all the way to their premium versions for filers who may also be business owners. See the range of offerings and software costs in the table below.
If you are not sure which version is best for you, start the with the basic version and you can upgrade to a higher level as you follow their guided process to complete your tax return. The table below provides the list price, but throughout the tax season, you can get score various TurboTax pricing discounts.
|Turbo Tax Filing Option||Features||DIY List Price|
(Live Support Cost)
|For simple tax returns and qualifying filers. This option covers W-2 income, retirement distributions, unemployment income, common tax credits (e.g. EITC and CTC). Covers filing the core IRS Tax 1040 form and a single state return for free, but you can’t itemize deductions||$0 + $0 per state filed|
($0 to $169)
|Includes Free/Basic options plus helps users find hundreds of additional tax deductions and credits, including those related to mortgages, business income and property taxes. You can itemize for these deductions||$59 + $49 per state |
($129 to $219)
|Deluxe version features plus filing for investment income reporting covering stocks, bonds, rental property, employee stock purchase plans, and other investments, as well as one-on-one time with a TurboTax specialist||$89 + $49 per state|
($179 to $369)
|Includes premier version items and is designed for those with multi-source personal and business income, deductions, and expenses. It also includes access to a TurboTax specialist who can help identify industry-specific deductions. Has several useful features for freelancers and gig workers including handling 1099-K forms||$119 + $49 per state |
($209 to $399)
The options above have a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) cost which means you use the software with built in features, but no live agent/person support. However if you need some or full (white-glove) support, you can upgrade to TurboTax Live and get access to a live tax expert.
You can also pay for a professional tax consultant for a premium cost (which is at top end of the ranges listed above) to take care of the entire tax filing based on information and documents you provide.
Why Choose TurboTax?
TurboTax makes the process of preparing and filing taxes easier by focusing on the user’s lifestyle and needs, which ultimately drives to maximizing the taxpayers refund.
Instead of immediately mapping your income and tax bracket, TurboTax gathers information about the user’s job, income, homeowner status, dependents, and charitable donations in order to determine the necessary tax forms for filing and deductions you can take.
The software has built in programming and AI to also analyze and recommend tax optimization options based on data learned from taxpayers in a similar situation to yours
The software also handles all of the necessary calculations and includes a guarantee of 100% accuracy. This is not unique to TurboTax but is a key benefit of electronic filing software (vs. paper-based returns of yesteryear) and reduces the odds your tax return processing and refund is held up due to math and filing errors.
Before submitting the returns, TurboTax’s “CompleteCheck” software reviews the information to ensure nothing is missed before filing a return. They are so confident in accurate filings that they will pay any IRS penalties and fees related to calculation errors due to their software (and assuming you provided all the filing information correctly).
Users can file their taxes electronically for the fastest possible refund and track the progress of their filing and return through the TurboTax app.
User Interface Experience
TurboTax’s desktop and mobile interface are designed to feel like a conversation with a tax preparer, allowing users to easily navigate through the process and skip to different sections as needed. A banner tracks the user’s progress and highlights any incomplete sections.
The software also includes embedded links offering tips, explanations, and other resources, as well as help buttons that can connect users to a searchable knowledge base and on-screen assistance.
Basically the UI and way the processes are designed makes using the tax software quite easy and straightforward. And over the last few years filing your return entirely on your mobile or cell phone is becoming easier than ever.
What If I filed with another tax software package
TurboTax allows users to easily switch from another tax preparation provider or software package (e.g. H&R Block or TaxAct) by importing electronic PDFs (not scans) of prior year tax returns. This allows you to shop around try it out before filing, and making the payment.
TurboTax also offers tax return storage, which allows the storage of finished tax returns in user accounts for up to seven years.
Can I import tax documents into TurboTax?
TurboTax does offer auto-import options for certain tax documents, such as W-2 information from participating employers and financial institutions or by uploading a scanned photo of the document you can take via your cell phone.
The Self-Employed TurboTax package allows users to directly import income and expenses from Square, Uber, and Lyft.
What about Cryptocurrency Taxes and reporting?
This is handled in TurboTax’s Premier Package and includes support for cryptocurrency investors, allowing for the import of up to 4,000 transactions at once. Which can be a big timesaver for high volume or regular crypto investors.
How to Get Help
TurboTax provides several options for users to find answers and receive guidance while preparing and filing their taxes.
The software offers a searchable knowledge base, forums, and video tutorials as general resources. For tech support, users can access the TurboTax Digital Assistant, a chatbot, or use a contact form. Paid packages also include access to a TurboTax specialist.
For one-on-one human tax help, users can purchase the TurboTax Live version, which offers live, on-screen tax advice and a review of the entire tax return by a tax professional.
TurboTax Live also includes unlimited live tax advice throughout the year and the option for one-way video conversations with a tax pro.
For those who prefer a fully human-led process, TurboTax also offers Live Full Service, which involves uploading tax documents and working with a human tax preparer to complete and file the return.
Prices for assisted of full Live Full Service are shown in the table above.
How will my refund be paid?
There are several options for receiving your tax refund, regardless of how you file:
• Direct deposit to a bank or approved brokerage account (like Coinbase)
• Loading onto an approved Visa Debit or Pre-paid Card
• Via Paper check mailed to the address noted on your tax return
• Applying the refund to next year’s taxes
• Directing the IRS to purchase U.S. Savings bonds (e.g. I-Bonds) with your refund payment
Additionally, you have the option of using your refund to pay for TurboTax software and any additional services or add-ons you may have requested. However, there may be an extra charge for this option, and the amount will vary based on the services chosen.
One of the common criticisms of TurboTax is the persistent attempts to upgrade users to higher-tier products as they file their tax return.
Additionally, some users have reported that the customer service and support included in the cost of the lower-tier product options is not as helpful as they would like. To access more specialized help, it is often necessary to upgrade to a more expensive TurboTax Live package.
In general, TurboTax is a premium option for preparing taxes online, unless you qualify for the free plan. While the platform’s features may be worth the cost for some users, it may not be the best choice for those who prioritize saving money on tax preparation.
Is Audit Support Available?
It is understandable to feel concerned or downright scared about the possibility of being audited by the IRS; so it is important to know what kind of audit support or defense is offered by your tax software provider in this event.
TurboTax offers free audit support via a tax professional to all tax filers to help them understand and navigate the audit process with the IRS for prior year returns filed via TurboTax. This support assumes the tax filer provided valid information.
If TurboTax is unable to connect a user with a professional, they will receive a refund. The taxpayer will need to find another option for audit support to deal with the IRS in this situation.
For those who want full representation in front of the IRS, taxpayers can take advantage of TurboTax’s MAX audit defense product. This provides features for identity theft monitoring, loss insurance, and restoration help.
What’s New For TurboTax in 2023 and When is it Available?
TurboTax 2023 will be available in late December 2022 to start your filing for the tax year. However, you should wait until you have all your tax filing documents (W2, 1099s etc) and after the IRS begins accepting tax returns to complete your tax filing. This is because the IRS may make last-minute changes that could affect your return.
While there have been significant tax changes in recent years due to the 2017 tax reforms and Covid-19 stimulus payments, no major changes were made for the 2022-2023 tax season.
There are however some changes to be aware of, such as increases to tax brackets and limits for retirement accounts, higher brackets for capital gains taxes, change to the Earned Income Tax Credit, a higher gift tax exclusion, higher health flexible spending account (FSA) contribution limits, and a higher adoption tax credit.
It’s also important to be aware of and research for your eligibility around any state-level tax changes that may affect you. For example, California residents should be aware of the Middle-Class Tax Refund.
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