TurboTax review

(Money Under 30 Rating)

Ranking

8.8/10

TurboTax offers the best in tax software. While their cost is higher than their competitors, they offer services for every tax situation. Plus, their software is incredibly easy to use.

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Cost

6/10

Support

10/10

App usability

10/10

Ease of use

10/10

Popularity

10/10



Best for:

 

  • Any tax filier
  • Many software option
  • For every return

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.

TurboTax is the most popular tax software. They offer so many different options, and can deal with even the most complicated tax situations. Here’s our full TurboTax review.

With fall approaching, tax season is just around the corner. Have you decided if you will have your returns prepared by a tax professional? Or have you decided to do your own return? And if so, which tax software are you planning to use?

If you’re investigating tax software, TurboTax is an excellent one 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 intimiting 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 this is the go-to tax preparation software package.

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, and deductions, and credits.

Only when you’re completely satisfied 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% Accuracy Guarantee. If you pay a penalty to the IRS or your state, because of an error made by a TurboTax, TurboTax will pay both the penalty and interest.
  • Multiple state returns. With each edition, there is an additional fee for preparing and filing your state tax return. But you can purchase TurboTax State for $44.99, which allows you to prepare and e-file an unlimited number of state returns. This is the perfect solution if you’re required to file returns in multiple states.
  • 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 their 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.
  • 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 Discount. TurboTax offers a small discount for members of the military. It’s not a big savings, but every little bit helps.

TurboTax plans

 TurboTax Free Edition
TurboTax Deluxe
TurboTax Premier
TurboTax Self-Employed
CostFree$39 + $39 to file your state tax return $69 + $39 to file your state tax return$89 + $39 to file your state tax return
Features- Import W2s
- Answers 24/7
- CompleteCheck
- All the features of the Free Edition
- Deduction Finder
- One-on-one help, on demand
- ItsDeductible to value donated items
- All the features of TurboTax Deluxe
- Import investment information
- Find your cost basis
- Set up new rental properties
- All the features of the Premier Edition
- Industry-specific deductions
- Track miles automatically
- Capture receipts in a snap
- Vehicle tax deduction
- Employee tax forms
Import 1099-MISC from your smartphone
- Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction guidance.

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, 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. That means 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.

TurboTax Deluxe

TurboTax Deluxe is the most popular TurboTax version, and it’s available at $39. There is an additional charge of $39 to complete and file your state tax return. But you can start for free, then pay when you file. You can even take the fee out of your Federal income tax return.

It’s 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 a few 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.
  • 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 Premier

TurboTax Premier is available for $69 for your Federal return, and $39 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 four anyone who has self-employment income, including small business owners, freelancers, and independent contractors. This version is available for $89 for filing Federal income taxes. Your state return is an additional $39.

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.
  • Track miles automatically. You can track your mileage through your mobile phone, through QuickBooks Self-Employed.
  • 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.
  • Refer a Friend. When you refer a friend to TurboTax you’ll get a $10 Amazon Gift Card when they complete their taxes. In addition, your friend will get 20% off the edition they buy.

TurboTax Live

If you want a higher level of tax preparation service, you can use TurboTax in conjunction with a tax expert 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 “Expert Help” button at any time. A tax expert will be available to give advice and to review your return anytime. 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

With either edition, TurboTax can help you set up new operations, as well as find deductions you may have never considered.

The interface with QuickBooks is a major advantage for both real estate investors and small businesses, who normally use that program as well. The business information from QuickBooks can be easily imported into TurboTax, saving considerable time, effort, and money gathering and inputting 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 $39.99 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, TaxAct’s Self Employed+ edition is a full $10 less than what TurboTax charges on their Self-employed plan.

You can also file your taxes for free directly with the IRS, though that service has serious limitations. First, you can file only your Federal return – you’ll be on your own for your state return.

Those with simple returns

But more important, IRS free filing only accommodates simple returns, with incomes below $66,000. If you earn more, you can only get “free file fillable forms”, and they warn that you must know how to do your taxes yourself, as only basic guidance is provided.

From a cost standpoint, you might be better served using other options than TurboTax if you have a very simple return.

Pros & Cons

Pros

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

Cons

  • Cost — The cost is higher than other tax software.

How does TurboTax compare to other tax software?

As stated above, TurboTax isn’t the least expensive tax preparation software. 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’s a table to summarize the differences:

 Free Version?Other PlansCustomer SupportRefund Tracking
TurboTax For simple tax returnsDeluxe: $39
Premier: $69
Self-Employed: $89
Business: $160
24/7 live support over the phoneYes
Cash App TaxesYesN/A24/7 live support over the phone or through the appYes
TaxSlayerYesClassic: $17.95
Premium: $37.95
Self-Employed: $47.95
24/7 live support over the phone or chat. Email form also availableYes
Liberty Tax OnlineN/ABasic: $24.95
Deluxe: $44.95
Premium: $64.95
24/7 live support through the app. Email support available every day from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. ESTYes
H&R BlockFor simple tax returnsDeluxe: $29.99
Premium: $49.99
Self-Employed: $84.99
Support over the phone or at a physical locationYes
TaxActFor federal tax returnsDeluxe: $24.95
Premier: $34.95
Self-Employed: $64.95
Support over the phone or email. Hours varyYes
E-FileFor federal tax returnsDeluxe: $20.99
Premium Plus: $37.49
Support over email. Some versions include phone support as wellYes

Summary

TurboTax is the most popular tax software, and that means something important. I suspect it has to do with the fact that TurboTax offers so many different options, and can deal with even the most complicated tax situations.

People who are self-employed, or have rental real estate 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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  • Rating
  • Price
  • Features
  • 9/10

  • Free Deluxe - $39.99 Premier - $59.99 Self-employed - $89.99
  • * Import tax return from competitors * 24/7 Live support * Many business features * Refund tracking * Premium audit assistance (for $44.99)
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  • 9/10

  • Free; Deluxe - $29.99 Premium - $49.99 Self-employed - $79.99
  • *Ability to input tax returns from competitors * Live chat and in-person assistance * Refund tracking * In-person audit assistance
  • Visit Site
  • 7/10

  • Free Basic - $9.95 Deluxe+ - $29.95 Premier+ - $34.95
  • * Ability to input tax return from competitors * Email/phone assistance * Refund tracking
  • Visit Site

Here’s a table to summarize the differences:

 Free Version?Other PlansCustomer SupportRefund Tracking
TurboTax For simple tax returnsDeluxe: $39
Premier: $69
Self-Employed: $89
Business: $160
24/7 live support over the phoneYes
Cash App TaxesYesN/A24/7 live support over the phone or through the appYes
TaxSlayerYesClassic: $17.95
Premium: $37.95
Self-Employed: $47.95
24/7 live support over the phone or chat. Email form also availableYes
Liberty Tax OnlineN/ABasic: $24.95
Deluxe: $44.95
Premium: $64.95
24/7 live support through the app. Email support available every day from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. ESTYes
H&R BlockFor simple tax returnsDeluxe: $29.99
Premium: $49.99
Self-Employed: $84.99
Support over the phone or at a physical locationYes
TaxActFor federal tax returnsDeluxe: $24.95
Premier: $34.95
Self-Employed: $64.95
Support over the phone or email. Hours varyYes
E-FileFor federal tax returnsDeluxe: $20.99
Premium Plus: $37.49
Support over email. Some versions include phone support as wellYes

People who are self-employed, or have rental real estate 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.
TurboTax is the most popular tax software, and that means something important. I suspect it has to do with the fact that TurboTax offers so many different options, and can deal with even the most complicated tax situations.

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: 155
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.