TurboTax review


Rating as of based on a review of services November 24, 2022.

(Money Under 30 Rating)

Ranking

9/10

TurboTax offers the best in tax software. While its pricing is higher than competitors, TurboTax does provide services for every tax situation. Plus, the software is incredibly easy to use.

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Price

6/10

Support

10/10

Ease of use

10/10

Popularity

10/10



Best for:

 

  • Self-employed taxpayers
  • Affordable access to tax experts
  • Ease of use

Editor's Note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

If you’re investigating tax software, TurboTax is an excellent option to start with. It’s the most popular tax preparation software available, which speaks volumes about its quality. But one of the reasons why it’s the most popular is because it’s so easy to use. Even if you’ve never prepared an income tax return yourself, you can do it with TurboTax. There’s nothing intimidating about the software — it’s totally user friendly.

I’ve been using TurboTax to prepare my own tax returns for the past several years, so I feel strongly that this is the go-to tax preparation software package.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • Options for every return — It offers a software plan even for the most complex tax return.
  • It's easy — Probably the easiest filing you'll ever do.
  • W-2 — There's a W-2 upload option.

Cons

  • Cost — The pricing is higher than competing tax software.

How does TurboTax work?

TurboTax works using a basic question-and-answer format. It breaks down each section of your return sequentially — general information, tax filing status, income, deductions, and credits.

Only when you’re completely satisfied that the information is accurate will you actually file your return. In addition to e-file filing your return, TurboTax also enables you to save and print copies for your records.

Once you e-file your return, TurboTax will notify you by email that it has been accepted by the IRS. This usually happens within one or two days, but it could even be an hour or so. They also offer a “Where’s My Refund?” tool that enables you to track the progress of your refund.

TurboTax features

100% Accurate Calculation Guarantee

If you pay a penalty to the IRS or your state due to a TurboTax error, TurboTax will pay both the penalty and interest.

State returns

With each edition, there is an additional option for preparing and filing your state tax return. Paid versions start at an extra $49 per state.

Audit Support Guarantee

Each TurboTax return entitles you to free one-on-one audit guidance from a trained tax professional. They won’t represent you in the audit, but they can explain the issue and help you prepare for it.

Audit Representation

If you need direct representation, you can purchase TurboTax’s Audit Defense feature. It will be like having a tax professional in your corner. Audit Defense is available when you purchase the MAX Defend & Restore plan, at an additional cost of $44.99. It also extends to cover identity theft monitoring and full identity restoration. MAX can be added to your plan anytime before you file your return. Your return will be covered by the plan for as long as it can be audited.

Read more: 7 signs you’re at risk of identity theft

QuickBooks interface

If you’re a QuickBooks user you can import information directly from QuickBooks into TurboTax. It will simplify both documentation collection and tax preparation, particularly if you’re self-employed or have rental real estate.

TurboTax military benefit

The Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed versions of TurboTax Online are free for enlisted, active duty military and reserve members.

TurboTax plans

 CostFeatures
TurboTax Free Edition
Free- Import W2s
- Prep, print, and e-file
- Audit Support Guarantee
TurboTax Deluxe$59 + $49 to file your state tax return- All the features of the Free Edition
- Deduction and credits finder
- One-on-one help, on demand
- ItsDeductible to value donated items
TurboTax Premier $89 + $49 to file your state tax return- All the features of TurboTax Deluxe
- Auto import investment information
- Covers rental properties
- Covers crypto
TurboTax Self-Employed
$119 + $49 to file your state tax return- All the features of the Premier Edition
- File Schedule C
- Import 1099-NEC
- Industry-specific deduction search
- Guidance for expenses

TurboTax comes in five different versions (actually four, with a trade-up version for each). Each works a little bit differently, based on your particular tax situation.

Please note that all prices given below are based on purchasing the products online. Rates are higher for CD/download product purchases, and rates may change as their promotions change.

TurboTax Free Edition

TurboTax Free Edition has become famous through the more than slightly annoying free, free, free commercials on TV. And that’s exactly what they mean, as TurboTax Free Edition is free on three fronts: $0 federal, $0 state, and $0 to file.

Naturally, it’s available only for the simplest returns, i.e., Form 1040 without any additional schedules. This edition includes W-2 income, limited interest and dividend income, claiming the standard deduction, child tax credits, and filing for the earned income tax credit. If you have any other tax situations, you’ll need to use a different edition.

TurboTax Free Edition features

  • Snap. Tap. Done. You can input your W2 information by snapping a picture with your mobile device. And when it comes to W2s, TurboTax has an automatic download feature enabling you to import W2 information from more than one million employers.
  • Answers 24/7. This is a welcome feature for anyone who is not familiar with preparing tax returns. TurboTax has a very large database with tax-related information. You can access that information at any time. And if that doesn’t get the job done, you can also get online answers from TurboTax specialists.
  • CompleteCheck. As a final step, TurboTax will verify that the information in your return is correct. They’ll do a comprehensive review to make sure nothing is missing, and all the calculations are correct.
  • 50% done in a click. If you filed with TurboTax last year, your information will automatically be transferred to this year’s tax return. That will save a lot of time entering information. You can also import a PDF file of last year’s return from other major tax preparation services.

TurboTax Deluxe

TurboTax Deluxe is advertised as the most popular TurboTax version, and it’s available at $59. There is an additional charge of $49 to complete and file your state tax return. But you can start for free, then pay when you file.

Deluxe is designed for filing Form 1040, including itemized deductions and incomes in excess of $100,000. However, it cannot be used if you’re self-employed or have rental properties.

TurboTax Deluxe features

TurboTax Deluxe comes with all the features of the Free Edition, plus some more:

  • Deduction Finder. TurboTax will search for more than 350 tax deductions and credits, to get you the biggest refund.
  • One-on-one help, on-demand. A TurboTax specialist is available to provide customized answers to your tax questions. They can even help you by drawing on your screen.

TurboTax Premier

TurboTax Premier is available for $89 for your Federal return, and $49 for your state return. It’s for more complicated returns that include investments and rental properties. You’ll want this version for stocks, bonds, employee stock plans, and other investment income.

TurboTax Premier features

It comes with all the features of TurboTax Deluxe, but adds the following:

  • Import investment information. TurboTax automatically imports investment information from thousands of participating financial institutions. If you’re an active trader, you’ll really appreciate this feature.
  • Find your cost basis. TurboTax offers three easy steps to help you discover your accurate purchase price for securities sold during the year.
  • Set up new rental properties. TurboTax will take you through all the steps of setting new properties, and even determine fair market rent value on the property. It will also enable you to set up rental property depreciation, so that you’ll get the biggest tax deduction possible.
  • Accounts for gains and losses from cryptocurrency transactions.

TurboTax Self-Employed

TurboTax Self-Employed is available for anyone who has self-employment income, including small business owners, freelancers, and independent contractors. This version is available for $119 for filing Federal income taxes. Your state return is an additional $49.

TurboTax Self-Employed features

The Self-Employed Edition comes with all the features of the Premier Edition, but adds the following specifically for businesses:

  • Industry-specific deductions. Every business has deductible expenses unique to its industry. TurboTax will help you to identify deductions you might miss. That includes expenses specific to real estate, rideshare, web design, creative and performing arts, construction, and other industries.
  • Vehicle tax deduction. Automatically determines if you should use the standard mileage deduction or actual expenses. That will give you the biggest possible deduction for your vehicle expense.
  • Employee tax forms. You can prepare an unlimited number of W2s and 1099s for both your employees and contractors. That’ll be a big advantage if you don’t use a payroll service.
  • Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction guidance.

Read our full review of TurboTax Self-Employed.

TurboTax Live

If you want a higher level of tax preparation service, you can use TurboTax in conjunction with a tax expert’s guidance. This add-on feature also gives you access to unlimited tax advice all year round.

You can talk to a live tax expert simply by clicking the “Live help” button at any time, and a tax expert will be available to give advice and to review your return. The tax expert will be able to access your return remotely, so the two of you can work on your return together.

My experience using TurboTax

I’ve been using TurboTax to prepare my tax return and several others for the past few years. Having used professional-grade tax software, TurboTax stacks up as being comparable in capabilities, but a good bit more user friendly.

You don’t need to have any experience preparing taxes, because the program will guide you through the entire process. Even on the most complicated returns, you’ll have access to everything you need to get the job done.

TurboTax is just one step short of having a tax expert prepare your tax return. And in fact, if you add the TurboTax Live feature to your plan, you’ll have live access to a tax expert to help you prepare your return. The main difference is that it will cost hundreds less than you’ll pay for an independent tax expert.

Who is TurboTax good for?

Those with somewhat complicated taxes

TurboTax will work best for taxpayers who have a tax situation that ranges between moderately complicated and very complicated.

The Premier and Self-Employed versions are specifically designed to help those with significant investment activities or small businesses. The self-employed edition can even help a small business that has employees.

Those looking to find the most deductions

TurboTax can help you find deductions you may have never considered.

The interface with QuickBooks is a major advantage for both real estate investors and small businesses, who might normally use that program as well. Business information from QuickBooks can be easily imported into TurboTax, saving considerable time and effort that would otherwise be spent gathering and inputting info manually.

Those looking to work with professionals while still filing online

Each version of TurboTax also offers premium upgrades that can be critical to someone with a more complicated tax situation. The Audit Defense program gives you representation in the event of an IRS audit. The cost of $44.99 for the package is a serious bargain when compared to the fees that would be charged by an independent tax expert to represent you in an audit.

Then there’s TurboTax Live, which enables you to work directly with a tax expert. You can start doing your tax return on your own, but if you reach a point where you realize you can’t go any further, the services of a tax professional are available to help you complete your return. The remote access that the tax professional will have will be the equivalent of having that person working right across the table from you.

Who isn’t TurboTax good for?

Those looking for the cheapest software

TurboTax isn’t the least expensive tax preparation software. For example, TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed edition is about $60 less than what TurboTax charges for its self-employed plan.

TurboTax vs. competitors

TaxAct, Liberty Tax, and H&R Block each offer their software at lower prices. Each also has similar features to what’s offered by TurboTax, but TurboTax seems to be a bit more advanced in each of its services.

Here are some brief bulleted summaries of the differences between TurboTax and six competitors.

Cash App Taxes

  • Free version: Yes (state included)
  • Paid plans: N/A
  • Customer support: Phone or in-app chat support Mon-Fri, 9 a.m to 7 p.m.

Open a Cash App account or learn more by reading our full Cash App Taxes review.

Best Tax Software: Compare TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer, E-File, TaxAct, Credit Karma Tax, And Liberty-Tax - TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer

  • Free version: Yes (state included)
  • Paid plans: Classic: $29.95; Premium: $49.95; Self-Employed: $59.95; State: additional $39.95
  • Customer support: Email, chat, and phone support (hours vary by season)

File with TaxSlayer or learn more by reading our full TaxSlayer review.

Logo for Liberty Tax

Liberty Tax Online

  • Free version: N/A
  • Paid plans: Basic: $45.95; Deluxe: $65.95; Premium: $85.95; State: additional $36.95
  • Customer support: In-office, phone, or email support

File with Liberty Tax Online or learn more by reading our full Liberty Tax Online review.

Free File Is Open Now: Should You File Or Should You Wait? - H&R Block

H&R Block

  • Free version: For simple tax returns (includes state)
  • Paid plans: Deluxe: $54.99; Premium: $74.99; Self-Employed: $114.99; State: additional $44.99
  • Customer support: Chat, phone, and brick-and-mortar branch support (hours vary by season)

Open an account with H&R Block or read our full H&R Block review.

TaxSlayer Review (UPDATE) - TaxActTaxAct

  • Free version: For federal tax returns ($39.95 per state filed)
  • Paid plans: Deluxe: $24.95; Premier: $34.95; Self-Employed: $64.95; State: additional $44.99
  • Customer support: Phone support (hours vary by season)

Open an account with TaxAct.

E-File

  • Taxes For The Self-Employed: Our Complete Guide - E-fileFree version: For federal tax returns
  • Paid plans: Deluxe: $20.99; Premium Plus: $37.49; State: $22.49
  • Customer support: Support over email. Paid versions include phone and online support

Open an account with E-file.

Read more: Compare the best tax software options

Summary

TurboTax is the most popular tax software, likely because it has so many different options, and can deal with even the most complicated tax situations.

People who are self-employed, or have rental real estate income obviously have complicated returns, and TurboTax has editions specifically designed for each. The software is also incredibly easy to use, and there are abundant resources for any questions you have.

The levels of support and direct assistance with TurboTax are unmatched among tax preparation software packages.

If TurboTax has a weakness, it’s in its cost. It’s one of the pricier services, which may not be the best option for those with very simple returns, and very limited funds. But for everyone else, TurboTax sets the industry standard.

If you’d like to get more information, or you’d like to order one of the four TurboTax editions, check out TurboTax.

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About the author

Total Articles: 144
Since 2009, Kevin Mercadante has been sharing his journey from a washed-up mortgage loan officer emerging from the Financial Meltdown as a contract/self-employed “slash worker” – accountant/blogger/freelance web content writer – on Out of Your Rut.com. He offers career strategies, from dealing with under-employment to transitioning into self-employment, and provides “Alt-retirement strategies” for the vast majority who won’t retire to the beach as millionaires. He also frequently discusses the big-picture trends that are putting the squeeze on the bottom 90%, offering work-arounds and expense cutting tips to help readers carve out more money to save in their budgets – a.k.a., breaking the “savings barrier” and transitioning from debtor to saver. He’s a regular contributor/staff writer for as many as a dozen financial blogs and websites, including Money Under 30, Investor Junkie and The Dough Roller.