TurboTax Tax Software

$59.99 Federal Deluxe, $50 per State
4.5

Product Features

5.0/5

Refund Advance Offering

4.0/5

Customer Service

4.5/5

Free Version Functionality

4.0/5

Q&A Interface

5.0/5

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Worth the premium price for complex returns
  • Great user-focused design and interface
  • Offers live CPA assistance for a fee

Cons

  • More expensive than competitors
  • Difficulty justifying price with a simple return
  • Deceiving pricing

After many years in the market as the leading product, TurboTax remains the gold standard of tax software.  The company owns one of the most well-known brands and comes equipped with fancy design and interface features you want from a high-powered program come tax time.  TurboTax makes complex tax situations feel manageable and provides great functionality for you to prepare your return at your own pace. Of note, TurboTax provides the following major points of strength:

  • Ease of use with with power to handle complicated tax returns.
  • Added cost (compared to competitors) comes with extra features and a secure tax return.
  • Product provides great interface and flow with a visually appealing and intuitive design.  On-screen Q&A prompts with simple-to-understand explanations.

TurboTax Review

TurboTax is the choice for you if you want a premium tax software with style and substance without compromise nor fear of making a mistake.  The product offers superior service, has a highly intuitive design and interface, utilizes a simple Q&A format for inputting information, and provides robust customer support options for those willing to pay a premium price.

TurboTax has also begun offering a refund advance product, allowing you the opportunity to expedite your tax refund at no cost.

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    TurboTax Overview

    This TurboTax tax software review will go over the most important things you need to know for those considering this product.

    TurboTax is a tax software originally developed by the Chipsoft Company in the mid-1980s, later merging with Intuit to become Intuit TurboTax in the 1990s.  To this day, the product is the top-selling tax software on the market.

    In fact, as of 2016, TurboTax boasted over 30 million taxpayers who used its product.  The software has grown as popular as it has by differentiating itself as a product which provides both style and substance without compromise.

    TurboTax Pros

    • Ease of use: TurboTax makes tax filing a breeze.  By offering easy-to-understand explanations of what each section of your tax return requires from you, it makes any return, whether simple or complicated, easier to handle.
    • Worth the premium price: Because the tax software can handle complicated returns well, it makes sense to pay the extra money to secure yourself a safe tax and accurate return.  The tax software provides plenty of support to make sure your tax return is done right.
    • Great user-focused design and interface: TurboTax focuses on making an appealing interface to file your tax return.  To the point, the TurboTax product has great design and flow and offers a visually appealing and intuitive user experience.  Whether it’s the software’s on-screen prompts offering simple-to-understand explanations or animating numbers when you change an item on your return, the user-focused design makes filing taxes more bearable and enjoyable.  Who doesn’t want to see the anticipated return (or dreaded payment) animate as you populate the numbers on your return?

    TurboTax Cons

    • More expensive than competitors. TurboTax generally comes at a higher price point than other tax software packages on the market.  Not everyone may need this high horsepower found beneath TurboTax’s hood.
    • Difficulty justifying price with a simple return. If you don’t need the fancy add-ons or additional services TurboTax provides, the cost might not justify the benefits received on simple returns.  Despite the intuitive interface, if your tax return has little more than W-2 income (e.g., 1099, investment income, rental property, etc.) and only claims the standard deduction, it might be best to consider cheaper alternatives for your best value.
    • Deceiving pricing. While the software offers a free federal version to file a 1040EZ and a state return, if you have anything above and beyond a simple W-2 income and the standard deduction, prepare to meet a rude surprise when the price shoots up.  However, if you know going in your return will not be free, this should not come as a shock.

    TurboTax Review 2020, Packages and List Prices

    PackagePrices & Description

    Free edition

  • Federal: $0
  • State: $0

  • TurboTax’s free federal version allows you to file a 1040 and a state return for free, but you do not have the option to itemize or file any of the new Schedules 1-6. This option works for people who don’t have complex filing situations and do not plan to claim any deductions or credits other than the standard deduction, the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit.

    Live Basic

  • Federal: $79.99
  • State: $44.99 (per state)

  • TurboTax Live Basic represents the same version above but also offers on-demand video access to a tax professional for help, advice and a final review.

    Deluxe

  • Federal: $59.99
  • State: $44.99 (per state)

  • This version of TurboTax allows you to itemize and claim other tax deductions and credits, as well as includes the "It's Deductible" feature for calculating the value of donated items, should you qualify to itemize. This package lets you file a Schedule C, but you can't report capital gains or rental income on your return. These functionalities require the Premier version below.

    Live Deluxe

  • Federal: $119.99
  • State: $44.99 (per state)

  • TurboTax Live Deluxe represents the same version above but also offers on-demand video access to a tax professional for help, advice and a final review.

    Premier

  • Federal: $79.99
  • State: $44.99 (per state)

  • The Premier package is the Deluxe version plus added capability for reporting investments (capital gains and losses) and rental income.

    Live Premier

  • Federal: $169.99
  • State: $44.99 (per state)

  • TurboTax Live Premier represents the same version above but also offers on-demand video access to a tax professional for help, advice and a final review.

    Self-Employed

  • Federal: $119.99
  • State: $44.99 (per state)

  • Provides all functionality of the Premier version plus added deduction help and expense-tracking features for freelancers, independent contractors and side-hustlers.

    Live Self-Employed

  • Federal: $199.99
  • State: $44.99 (per state)

  • TurboTax Live Self-Employed represents the same version above but also offers on-demand video access to a tax professional for help, advice and a final review.
    Prices listed represent retail prices advertised at time of review. Prices are subject to change at any time and without notice. To see the latest pricing available, please click through to one of the links and visit the TurboTax page to learn more.

    Easy to Import Data

    If your W-2 employer is one of TurboTax’s 1,000+ partners, the tax software allows you to import your W-2 directly into the program to prepare your tax return without concern for making fat-fingered mistakes. And if that’s not enough, the tax software uses a great feature which allows you to take a picture of your W-2 and then have the program automatically input that information into your return for you.  Quick and simple!

    As a result of this powerful functionality and ability to read text on a printed document, this makes the tax preparation process all the easier to handle.

    Maximum Refund Guarantee

    TurboTax reviews every detail of your tax return to make sure the information entered is correct.  During the process, it prompts you with questions to see if you qualify for over 350 tax deductions and credits which could get you more money out of tax season.

    In fact, the service will refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state money spent on paid versions if you find a better result from another tax preparation method.

    Accuracy and Audit Support

    If you pay an IRS or state penalty (or interest) because of an error that a TurboTax CPA or Tax Attorney made while providing topic-specific tax advice, section review, or acting as a signed preparer for your return, the company will pay you an amount equal to the penalty and interest.

    TurboTax also provides year-round audit support guidance from a tax professional by answering any questions you may have.  If you have difficulty understanding why the IRS contacted you, TurboTax will assist.

    Customer Support

    Even as more people choose to do their own taxes, they still want the comfort of knowing there is a qualified professional available to answer their questions.  A relatively new feature offered by TurboTax is called TurboTax Live.  This offering provides a one-on-one review with a CPA or tax professional before you file.


    You can make an appointment at a time convenient for you to talk over the phone or via one-way video (you can see them, but they don’t see you).  But be warned, upgrading can add $70 to $100 in cost.

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      TurboTax Conclusion

      TurboTax remains the king of tax software.  If you choose to do your taxes by yourself, the tax software you choose should make the process easy.  TurboTax does this well and makes it stand out from its competitors. 

      Whether you’re preparing a simple or complex tax return, TurboTax has the tools you need to get it done right and on time.  It has one of the most well-known brands, comes equipped with agreeable design and interface features you would want from a high-powered program, and offers an intuitive Q&A format which makes tax preparation a breeze.

      However, this functionality comes with a price.  TurboTax remains the most expensive option on the market compared with other options.  If your return has even a few complicated elements, you could easily spend over $100 on your federal and state returns with TurboTax’s more complex offerings.

      However, if the features offered appeal to you and you can afford the premium pricing, TurboTax is the best tax software package for you.  By the sales numbers, many appear to value the combo because in the tax software space, it is unquestionable TurboTax stands out from the pack.  

      How TurboTax Compares

      TurboTaxH&R BlockTaxActTaxSlayereFile
      Free version offered?Simple Tax Returns OnlySimple Tax Returns OnlySimple Tax Returns OnlySimple Tax Returns OnlySimple Tax Returns Only
      Other Pricing Options (1)TurboTax:
      Deluxe:
      $59.99
      Premier: $79.99
      Self-Employed: $119.99

      (+$44.99/state)

      TurboTax Live:
      Basic: $79.99
      Deluxe: $119.99
      Premier: $169.99
      Self-Employed: $199.99
      Deluxe: $49.99
      Premium: $69.99
      Self-Employed: $104.99

      (+$39.99/state)
      Deluxe+: $29.95
      Premier+: $39.95
      Self-Employed+: $74.95

      (+$39.95/state for Deluxe+;
      $49.95 for Self-Employed+)
      Classic: $17
      Premium: $37
      Self-Employed: $47

      (+$29/state)
      Deluxe: $39.95 (2)
      Premium: $49.95 (2)

      (+$28.95 for unlimited state returns)
      Import Return into Tax Software?Yes; may import PDF of return from previous softwareAllow for a W-2 photo import; can import previous year’s return information from H&R Block on all non-free versionsYes, may import last year’s tax information or third-party software information. May import PDF files of IRS forms from TurboTax and H&R BlockMay upload PDF of previous year’s return;
      pulls in data automatically if used TaxSlayer previous year
      No
      Service & Support24/7 live supportPhone and live chat; in-person assistance at branch networkEmail or phoneEmail or phone, FAQs, video tutorials, definitions of key termsEmail
      Audit AssistanceProvides basic audit support for all returns and personalized audit assessment with PremierPeace of Mind®, In-person audit supportAudit Defense servicesAudit protection included in Premium and Ultimate plansNone displayed
      (1) Prices subject to change; prices listed represent full-retail cost.
      (2) Discounted prices shown at time of review were $29.95, and $39.95, respectively.

      The Bottom Line

      TurboTax offers live support, comprehensive design, and the highest functionality of all the tax software programs reviewed.  In many ways, TurboTax represents the highest standard for the DIY tax-prep industry. And if the premium price tags many of its products offer concern you, confident filers who don’t have a need for all the bells and whistles may get a better value elsewhere.

      About the Site Author and Blog

      In 2018, I was winding down a stint in investor relations and found myself newly equipped with a CPA, added insight on how investors behave in markets, and a load of free time.  My job routinely required extended work hours, complex assignments, and tight deadlines.  Seeking to maintain my momentum, I wanted to chase something ambitious.

      I chose to start this financial independence blog as my next step, recognizing both the challenge and opportunity.  I launched the site with encouragement from my wife as a means to lay out our financial independence journey and connect with and help others who share the same goal.

      Disclaimer

      I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed in this post at the time of this writing.  Any recommendations made by me are my own.  Should you choose to act on them, please see my the disclaimer on my About Young and the Invested page.

      Disclosure: We scrutinize our research, news, ratings, and assessments using strict editorial integrity. In full transparency, this company may receive compensation from partners listed on this website through affiliate partnerships, though this does not affect our ratings. Learn more about how we make money by visiting our advertiser disclosure.

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