TurboTax topped our list of best online tax software for the third year in a row and stands out for a superior user experience, feature-rich mobile app, and the support and learning materials needed to handle even the most complex tax scenarios.
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.
File for free with Absolute Zero
For the second straight year, you can file your federal 1040EZ/A and state taxes for free with TurboTax. The 1040EZ/A is meant for those with relatively simple tax scenarios, so generally speaking, you’ll qualify for Absolute Zero if you made less than $100k in 2015, don’t own a home or rental property, didn’t sell investments, don’t own a business or have 1099 income, and don’t have any major medical expenses. When you come across offers like this, it always feels like there’s a catch. But TurboTax developer Intuit is pretty transparent about its motivations — it simply hopes that when your tax situation becomes a little more complex, you’ll opt for one of its paid versions. If you have a relatively simple tax situation and plan to file a 1040EZ/A, you literally can’t beat this deal.
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.
Impressive mobile app
TurboTax offers a feature-rich mobile app that gives you the ability to prepare and e-file your taxes on your favorite Android and iOS mobile devices. The mobile app works much like the online version, guiding you through a series of questions and coaching you through the deduction-discovery process. You can get started quickly by snapping a photo of your W-2 and importing your information directly into the app. TurboTax Mobile is capable of handling simple and complex tax scenarios, and if you run into problems at any point, you can quickly speak with an agent via on-screen video help.
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.
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.
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 Self-Employed 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.
- Editions: Free Federal Edition, Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed
- Federal Price: $0 - $79.99
- State Price: $36.99
Federal Free Edition
- Federal Fee: $0
- State Fee: $0
- Federal Fee: $34.99
- State Fee: $36.99
- Federal Fee: $54.99
- State Fee: $36.99
- Federal Fee: $79.99
- State Fee: $36.99