When it comes to preparing and filing taxes on a yearly basis, many individuals cringe at the thought of chasing down lengthy forms and completing them before cutoffs. Intuit’s TurboTax takes the guesswork out of the entire process by providing an intelligent self-serve platform to manage personal and business taxes while maximizing refunds and write-offs.
TurboTax was initially packaged and developed by Chipsoft in the mid-1980s and was acquired by Intuit in 1993. Since then, the software has received recognition every year for being one of the most comprehensive and accurate tax filing platforms available.
TurboTax at a glance
About: Users can prepare and file their federal returns completely free of charge. While there is still a charge of $29.99 when filing a state return, TurboTax Free provides the flexibility of easy preparation and submission of 1040EZ or 1040A forms.
About: TurboTax Deluxe expands on the features of the free version by including a deduction finder that searches for more than 350 tax deductions and credits. You can also import previous years’ returns to simplify the tax preparation process by auto-filling important information from another year’s filings.
About: Designed for more complicated tax filings, TurboTax Premier helps individuals with substantial investment income from rental properties, stock plans and bonds accurately prepare their taxes while saving time and reducing the likelihood of audits.
About: TurboTax Self-Employed is the perfect tax solution for anyone earning income as an independent contractor, freelancer, or business owner. Individuals can prepare unlimited numbers of W2 and 1099 forms and will receive the very best information on industry-specific deductions that you may not even be aware of.
About: For those that need direct assistance preparing their annual taxes, Intuit has created TurboTax Live, which gives individuals the ability to ask for expert help whenever they need it — day or night. TurboTax Live’s service connects users with a real certified CPA/EA that can help them prepare each stage of their return and do a final review before filing it.
What we like about it
One of TurboTax’s defining features is it’s impressively comprehensive and easy to use interface. Whether it’s the first time filing your taxes or if you’ve been filing for years, TurboTax makes it easy to navigate each step of the process and minimizes errors along the way. Another great feature of TurboTax is that the program makes it incredibly easy to migrate information from other Intuit tools and services like QuickBooks and MileIQ mileage tracker for business deductions. Like with most tax preparation solutions, TurboTax has specific features designed to help you maximize your deductions when preparing personal and business taxes. Another real benefit of using TurboTax online is that you can access your tax information from anywhere, allowing you to start and stop the filing process whenever convenient.
Things to consider
While TurboTax is definitely one of the more well-known and used tax solutions available, it is also higher priced than most of the competition. Intuit tries to get around this reality by offering a free plan for filing along with it’s paid versions, however, this plan is extremely limited and provides very little functionality and templated tax forms in comparison with other solutions. TurboTax’s pricing tiers are also a bit misleading for anyone required to file both federal and state taxes. State filing fees are quite high by ratio when compared with federal filing fees, and customers may be surprised at how much their total bill adds up to once taxes are ready to be submitted through the program. It seems like TurboTax’s free plan is more of a marketing strategy than a useable solution. The features of this plan are extremely stripped down, and most people will likely elect to pay for filing based on these restrictions.
TurboTax‘s ease of use and self-serve design is one of the main reasons that the software has become so popular. The platform quite literally walks you through every step of the tax filing process and uses an AI-powered engine to ensure your completing the actions accurately. One of the things TurboTax does really well is minimize the amount of time you need to spend filling in redundant information. W2 information can be imported simply by taking a picture of the information and transferring the application. The self-employed version of the platform even allows you to store receipts and track mileage from your mobile device, saving you time and energy when its time to file. After filing your return, the software will also analyze all the information you entered and flag you if it detects and errors or possible deductions that were missed. TurboTax will even tell you how likely you are of being audited based on your filing and offers services to protect you in the unlikely event this happens.
TurboTax help and support
While the price may be hard for some individuals to get past, there is real value in the amount of help and support options available through the software and online. Intuit continuously makes available helpful tips and video tutorials on their knowledge base and offers live chat and phone technical support when using the software. For customers that opt-in for TurboTax Live, they have access to on-demand expert advice through all stages of their filing process. This is a big differentiator between TurboTax and other competitors, as not many other tax solutions have this service available.
Is TurboTax worth the price?
When deciding on whether or not TurboTax is worth its higher cost, customers will need to decide how complex their taxes are. If you’re confident on how to file your own taxes and don’t require the bells and whistles of a software solution, TurboTax may not be for you. For standard federal and state filings, other comparable solutions offer similar features and benefits at a lower price, some of which are entirely free. However, for anyone that wants to maximize their deductions, especially business owners, investors or anyone who has purchased or sold a home, TurboTax is hard to beat. In these cases, the additional price you pay will be recovered quickly as you maximize your deductions and minimize the amount you owe at the end of the year.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for one of the best self-serve solutions for managing taxes, then look no further than Intuit’s TurboTax. For many years now, TurboTax has become arguably one of the most recognizable programs for DIY tax preparations and filing, taking the guesswork out of what could be a reasonably complex process. While their prices are many times higher than the competition, many of the features that TurboTax offers bring high enough value to make it worth the extra expense.
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