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November 12, 2015

Online Tax Software

TurboTax Review

TurboTax is the industry-leading online tax software. With a clean and logical design, comprehensive deduction discovery tools, and thorough learning resources, TurboTax is a great selection for both simple and complex tax scenarios.

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The Good

Strong overall design

Unlike some competitor products, TurboTax gives you the impression that the product is specifically designed for completing your taxes online in the most efficient manner. Interfaces are clean and intuitive, and processes have a very logical flow. This strong design enables those who are unfamiliar with online taxes to be comfortable and confident throughout the preparation and filing processes. This characteristic makes TurboTax a great choice for someone who is new to filing taxes online.

Comprehensive learning resources

When it comes to learning resources, TurboTax is leading the industry. If you're interested in getting more comfortable with the tax filing process, or if you simply prefer to find your own answers, TurboTax helps facilitate both by providing a thorough knowledge base, forum, glossary, and video tutorials. Featured at the bottom of most pages is a link to the TurboTax Community and a short list of previously asked questions. The TurboTax Community is made up of thousands of questions and answers. You can search the community for previously asked questions, or ask a question of your own.

New TaxCaster app for iOS7

TaxCaster is a free tax calculator that enables you to get a quick estimate of your 2013 tax refund before you prepare and file your taxes. Similar to TurboTax software, the app asks about your income, marital status, and other tax-related questions. Once it has a basic idea of your tax profile, it provides an estimate of what you can expect from your tax refund. The app is optimized for iOS7 and has a simple interface that works well on your iPhone or iPad.

Autonomy throughout the system

TurboTax provides a high level of autonomy throughout the tax filing process. For example, based upon your answers to early setup questions, TurboTax automatically identifies sections that might impact your tax situation and presents them in a section titled "Other Tax Situations." Instead of forcing you to work through these sections in a specific order, you can choose what to work on, and do it in the order you want. The section that identifies deductions and credits operates in a similar manner.

Audit risk identification

TurboTax provides an audit risk meter that provides a visual warning to sections of your taxes that have the potential to trigger an audit. When possible, TurboTax will then provide guidance to correct these errors, helping you avoid an unnecessary audit.

Superior deduction discovery

TurboTax provides resources to help discover a variety of deductions associated with your home, family, running a small business, owning rental properties, education, charitable donations, and more. TurboTax allows you to explore these options on your own, or you can utilize EasyGuides that will help walk you through each relevant deduction.

Professional phone assistance

In addition to having representatives trained to answer general questions, TurboTax support includes licensed enrolled agents, certified public accountants, and tax attorneys that are contracted by Intuit to offer professional assistance. Having the ability to access professional support by telephone is an excellent resource.

Military edition

TurboTax provides a military edition of the software that is catered specifically to the needs of those in the armed services. Pricing discounts are available, and items like basic pay, combat pay, uniform deductions, and other military-specific needs are all addressed.

The Bad

Downgraded Deluxe plan

Recently, TurboTax changed their product offerings, removing several features from their Deluxe desktop version. This includes the ability to file schedules C, D, and E, which is problematic if you're self-employed, have a large number of investments, or have rental properties. If you require assistance with any of these, you need to upgrade to either TurboTax's Premier or Home & Business version. This has sparked outrage from customers who were unaware of this change until they were partway through filing their taxes with the Deluxe desktop version. If you are one of those customers, you should check out H&R Block. They are currently offering free downloads of their Deluxe software to anyone who provides proof of purchase of TurboTax's Basic or Deluxe versions.

No retail locations

A few competing online tax software products are developed by companies that also maintain retail locations. In the event that you run into complex issues and are struggling to get your questions answered online, knowing that you can walk into a retail location and get additional assistance is a nice convenience. You may have to pay for this in-store assistance, but in order to get certain problems solved, face-to-face support can be the most efficient. TurboTax is not in the retail business and does not have stores that provide a service of this nature.

Pricing is comparatively high

TurboTax is the most feature-rich and highly functional online tax software in the industry, and as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. Whether you are filing with the Federal Free, Basic, Deluxe, Premier, or Home & Business Edition, chances are you will be paying more with TurboTax than you will with the competitor's comparable edition. However, when you consider how much money a superior product like TurboTax can potentially save you, the relatively higher prices might not seem like such a big deal.

The Details


  • Editions: Free Federal Edition, Deluxe, Premier, Home & Business
  • Federal Price: $0 - $104.99
  • State Price: $29.99 - $39.99


Federal Free Edition

  • Federal Fee: $0
  • State Fee: $29.99


  • Federal Fee: $54.99
  • State Fee: $39.99


  • Federal Fee: $79.99
  • State Fee: $39.99

Home & Business

  • Federal Fee: $104.99
  • State Fee: $39.99

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