TurboTax 2017: Is it the Best Option for You?

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Last updated on July 17, 2018 Views: 547 Comments: 67

TurboTax is one of the most well-known online tax filing softwares, and with good reason. It’s a full-featured option that takes you through your taxes step by step. Though it’s more expensive than other options on the market, it can be a good investment for those who have never DIY filed before, or those with a more complicated tax situation.

Every year, the companies that provide tax e-filing services like TurboTax and H&R Block tweak their products, not only for the latest tax laws, but to improve features, making the process of tax filing easier. I took a look at TurboTax to see what changes the newest edition has to offer.

The first thing I noticed with TurboTax is the wide variety of products they have available. This year, TurboTax is offering four options. It starts with the Federal Free Edition, which will let you file a 1040EZ or 1040A for free. The most expensive option, Self-Employed, offers many more forms for filing but costs $89.99. Most tax filers will find their needs fit somewhere in between the two.

One excellent feature of TurboTax is that you can start off your filing as a free filer. The software will guide you through your tax situation. And if you encounter forms you need but that aren’t included in your edition, you can always upgrade. You never pay until the very end of the process, either way.

So what can you expect from each edition of TurboTax? This helpful chart breaks down all the details. But essentially, you can only file the most basic forms with the free edition. With Deluxe, which costs $34.99, you can file many more deductions and credits. In fact, Deluxe gives you access to most of the credits and deductions individuals claim, including deductions for dependent care, educational expenses, and your mortgage.

If you have rental property or significant investments, the Premier version may be what you need. It costs $54.99, and gives you access to additional profit or loss forms. The Self-Employed version will work well for contractors, freelancers, and solopreneurs. It costs $89.99.

Keep in mind that each of the paid versions requires an additional fee of $36.99 per state to file your state taxes. That could add up quickly if you need to file taxes in more than one state! But TurboTax automatically transfers your federal tax information over to your state taxes, making the filing process a breeze.

What the process looks like

So what does the process of filing your taxes with TurboTax actually look like? It depends on what type of experience you prefer. You can have the software walk you through every potential type of income, credit, and deduction. It’ll just ask you all sorts of questions, and then move through the forms based on your answers.

If you’re already comfortable with filing your own taxes, though, you can tell the software what you want to work on. This can save you time. But be careful here: you don’t want to overlook any potential deductions that you didn’t know about! TurboTax is always up-to-date on the latest tax laws, so you may be eligible for credits or deductions you haven’t considered.

TurboTax’s sleek interface and easy-to-use question-and-answer system is what sets it apart from some of the less-expensive tax preparation software options. You can even automatically pull your information from last year’s taxes, and can import W-2 information from certain companies.

Here’s what the TurboTax interface looks like:

TurboTa

When you click into one of the top tabs, the software will give you an option: go through everything step by step, or choose what you work on.

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If you decide to choose what you’ll work on, you can click into individual options on your own. If you have the software guide you through all the sections, you’ll go through more Q and A. Your answers will determine where the software takes you next.

Here’s what the section for business income and expenses looks like:

Untitled

In each section, you can choose whether you’ll go through that entire section, or just work on parts. For instance, under the Farm and Income Expenses section, you can work through the whole section, or just do Farm Rental Income and Expenses.

 

The whole process works just like this. If you choose to let the software guide you, you’ll first work through personal information, then business income and expenses. Then, it’ll take you through personal income and expenses, and, finally (the good part!) deductions you can take.

Besides being an easy-to-use software, though, TurboTax comes with a variety of other features, including:

  • Self-Employed ExpenseFinder: This is the same ExpenseFinder used in QuickBooks. It basically walks you through all the types of expenses you might be able to write off, so you don’t miss anything. As a Self-Employed person, every write-off counts!
  • Mobile File: TurboTax lets you file from a desktop, but it also has a slick mobile interface so you can file online from your tablet or phone.
  • CompleteCheck: Like most tax software options, TurboTax guarantees its math. This isn’t the same thing as guaranteeing you’ll come out on top in an audit. But if its calculations aren’t accurate, it’ll deal with the IRS and refund you to compensate.
  • Tax Help: You can get access to live tax professionals, depending on which version of TurboTax you use. You can chat online, or do a mobile screen share with a tax expert who can answer you specific questions while guiding you through the process. You can also find answers to more common questions in the forums.
  • Audit Support: With Audit Support, you can get one-to-one guidance from a tax pro, get answers to audit-related questions, and get assistance preparing for an audit. If you get an audit letter after you file with TurboTax, you can just visit their Audit Support Center for more help.
  • Audit Defense: This isn’t the same thing as Audit Support. When you file your taxes, you can chose to pay extra for Audit Defense. This is a full-service audit representation by a ta professional. If you want to know that you won’t have to deal with the IRS directly should you be audited, Audit Defense might be worth your while.
  • Free File Storage: TurboTax will store your prior years’ tax information for you, so you can always access the PDF copies of your tax return when you need to.

With all these features and its incredibly simple-to-use interface, TurboTax could be a great option if you’re looking for DIY tax software. Yes, there are other good options available. But many of the cheaper options don’t offer as much hand-holding as TurboTax does. So if you’re less comfortable with your tax situation — or if you have a slightly more complicated situation — TurboTax may be the right software for your needs.

On the other hand, if you know what forms you need to file and what deductions are right for you, TurboTax may be more expensive than you’d prefer. In this case, other tax preparation options, including H&R Block or TaxACT might be a better option for you.

Consumerism Commentary is an authorized affiliate of Intuit. Intuit did not compensate Consumerism Commentary for this review.

Article comments

67 comments
Anonymous says:

I have been using turbo tax for about 6 years and never had a problem. It has worked very well. This year the experience was horrible. Turbo created woksheet problems that it could not help you solve. ,For one example, it refused to efile my state return because it somehow figured that I filed tax returns in more than 1 state. I did not lead me to the point of supposed error. i went thu the forms manually and did not find where their created error occured and ended up filing by mail even though I downloaded and paid for their state program. In general the program does not work like in the past and i likely wont be using turbo agin next year.

Anonymous says:

The worst experience I’ve had with the free online tax preparation. Last year they charged me for the state tax preparation, when it should have been free. They gave me a refund. This year, 2013, I found it impossible to cut through the advertising and bate and switch schemes they used to get me to pay for the upgrade. I used another site with no trickery involved.

Anonymous says:

Buyer Beware!
TurboTax will not run on MacBooks that use the Intel Core Duo processor!!!!
Even if your OS X version is supported it does not mean it will run on your Mac!
I found out the hard way, and I am out $58 down the drain. (Can I deduct that on my 2013 return?)

Anonymous says:

i ONLY BEGAN TO TRY TURBO TAX 3 YEARS AGO. I DID NOT FILE MY RETURN WITH
THEM. I HAD PUT IN ALL MY INFORMATION AND THEY WERE NOT GIVING MY FULL REFUND. I HAVE BEEN PREPARING TAXES FORN OVER 20 YEARS AND I AM AN ATTORNEY. I WANTED TO TEST THEIR SOFTWARE—ESPECIALLY SINCE THE POINT OF TURBO TAX WAS THAT ALL YOU NEED IS THEIR SOFTWARE TO FILE AN ACCURATE RETURN. NO NEED FOR TAX EXPERTS OF ANY SORT! MY FIRST TRY WITH THE YOUR SOFTWARE AND I WOULD HAVE BEEN OUT MONEY! I GUESS THAT THEY ARE NOW GIVING INTO THE NOTION THAT YOU DO NEED MORE THAN SOFTWARE FOR AN ACCURATE TAX RETURN. LAST YEAR , I SAW MORE TURBO TAX RETURNS THAT NEEDED CORRECTING THAN EVER BEFORE. PERHAPS, THE ORIGINAL TURBO TAX PREMISE–THAT ALL YOU NEED IS THEIR SOFTWARE IS WRONG. PERHAPS YOU SHOULD HAVE RETURN LOOKED AT BY A PROFESSIONAL

Anonymous says:

I am soooo mad right now. I purchased Turbo Tax Business 2011 to file my 1120S return, and it will not calculate in my cost of goods sold figures! As you can imagine this make my net income quite high and raises my tax bill SUBSTANTIALLY. I have tried to contact Turbo Tax about this and they are unavailable….the cowards! So now I get to pay for a piece of crap software and still do my taxes by hand, which is quite laborious and time consuming! LET ME REPEAT I AM STEAMING MAD.

Anonymous says:

Jim,

Is there a way to correct this? I had my neighbor do the taxes and apparently she erred. I would very much like the refund to be deposited to my checking account. The checking account number is on the filing. Pls advise. Thanks.

Anonymous says:

My 2011 taxes were e-filed through TurboTax and I received two emails in response. One stated that my form was accepted. The other, and more problematic, stated that a third part bank had and “agreement” with TurboTax and that the IRS would be sending this third part bank my refund and that this third party bank would then take a fee from my tax return. I really question this. I’ve never experienced this before and I’ve been e-filing for years, without a third party and a third party fee. Make sure you investigate this before filing through TurboTax. Just saying.

Anonymous says:

There’s an option on one of the screens near the end of the process that allows you to specifiy how you want to receive your refund (direct deposit, IRS mailed check, third party). Somehow the third party option must have been selected.

Anonymous says:

I just tried to use your tax computation software. Nothing changed for me from last year–save I worked for 6 months in 2011 for my company (from which I am retired) thru a temp agency. I earned $26,076.82—$3924.86 withheld Fed–from them. My pension came to $33,883–withheld $3592 Fed–which is about the same thing it is every year. I even had this temp agency take out additional withholding and declared -0- dependents so I would not come up short. I got a refund of $2811 refund from Federal last year–and you tell me I’m going to get about $1200 this year from Fed. That makes sense to you??? Also, my preparer last year (retired IRS Supervisor) showed my wife and I with $28,188 in SS income–but only $9,835 of it was subject to tax. I didn’t see that from you. Not looking forward to hiring a tax return specialist for $200–but your suggestion that I am losing over $1600 in Fed refund leaves me with no choice. You, surely, can do better by future customers in my bracket.

Luke Landes says:

Reese,

I think you’ll need to contact TurboTax directly with your issue.

Anonymous says:

TurboTax is great, easy to use, easy to file, I’ve been using it for years.
One thing to note, Vanguard customers get a 25% discount using TurboTax online (could have saved yourself some money Flexo!).
I’m curious to know (and if you checked) if there was a difference between what your return was from using TurboTax compared to what your accountant figured out??

Anonymous says:

how do you provide proof that you are a vanguard customer?

Anonymous says:

You can access TurboTax through Vanguard’s homepage, it asks you to log in to your Vanguard account, it then redirects to TurboTax’s website and the discounts are applied automatically.

Anonymous says:

We have a multi-member LLC and I used TurboTax for Business with good results.

shellye says:

Turbo Tax is great. Have used it since late ’90s.

Anonymous says:

Can the tax information be saved to my documents? I do not have a printer.

lynn says:

Following you on FB @ Lynn Dutt

Drew Mangini says:

I used this software last year and I was happy with it, was easy to use and fast.

Anonymous says:

TTAx has a Business edition that will cover LLC’s, Trusts, etc. The downside is that it does NOT include personal income tax returns, so you have to buy TWO versions each year. I truly don’t understand why they don’t just include the personal and charge a little more for it, so that the data would be coordinated.

Anonymous says:

I tweeted here: http://twitter.com/#!/anashct/status/38768956651216896
anashct [at] yahoo [dot] com

Anonymous says:

I follow flexo on twitter @anashct
anashct [at] yahoo [dot] com

Anonymous says:

turbo tax makes life easyy as pie!

Anonymous says:

Already following you on Twitter as @sazzyfrazzy. Tweeted here: http://twitter.com/sazzyfrazzy/status/38045440301604864
sazzyfrazz at gmail dot com

Anonymous says:

I like you on FB and left a comment on the giveaway post!
sazzyfrazz at gmail dot com

Anonymous says:

I ‘ve been using Turbo Tax since about 1998, I believe! I love it!
sazzyfrazz at gmail dot com

Anonymous says:

I’ve used turbotax for many years. I like the way it preloads the necessary data from the previous year. Saves a lot of typing

Anonymous says:

I use turbotax for years and it helps me make less mistakes.

Anonymous says:

I have used turbotax for the last several years. I agree with your comments.

Anonymous says:

Good writeup. I’ve been using TurboTax for years. Even though I hate doing my taxes, their software makes it very easy. By the way, are you sure you didn’t adopt a child? 😉

Anonymous says:

Thanks for the giveaway…. I commented, tweeted, followed and “liked” ….. Happy tax Season!

Anonymous says:

Oh boy, pick me, pick me!

Anonymous says:

TurboTax has helped me significantly, especially the Premier edition which helps me with my personal returns and trying to navigate my tax situation based on investments and my ownership stake in a business. One of the best products, if not the best, out there.

Anonymous says:

I like you on Facebook with my username beckytrombley, and I left a comment on your FB wall.

Anonymous says:

I’m a huge Turbotax fan, and have been using it for years for home and business. I’d love to win!

Anonymous says:

I’m a CPA and I still use Turbo Tax. It is just so simple to use. Last year upgraded from the free edition because I itemized. However, for simple returns I would still use the free edition. This is a very good review of the product, and a testament to the usefulness of TurboTax.

Anonymous says:

I’ve used Turbo tax for 10 years now and I loved it.

moneymatters says:

I’ve used TurboTax for a couple of years now, and it does a great job in my opinion. Is it the cheapest option for all circumstances? Probably not. I know I had filed cheaper through other services in the past like taxslayer.com. But for my money just the ease of use for TurboTax makes it worthwhile.

Anonymous says:

I would love to get TurboTax, been using it for years and love it. This year I’ve been reluctant to get started since I have to fill in two states and sold some stock. A free prize would be great!

cam says:

I’ve never actually used TurboTax – I’ve used TaxAct for the past several years, and the MD Ifile system for state taxes. MD’s system is so easy, I have no idea why people with simple returns still pay to have their taxes filed in MD!

Anonymous says:

Turbo tax is a SCAM!! When you google “Free Edition” Turbo Tax, an option will come up for free filing is linked to Intuit.com. Once you click on this site, it automatically reroutes you to Turbotax.com. You’re under the impression that you are in the free edition web site. This happened to me when I went to file my son’s income tax. He was getting back less than $225.00, but I ended up paying $93.85 just to file for him. He worked part-time in another state, so they charged me for tow state filings. I called for a refund because I had not transmitted the return yet. I called the number listed 8004468848 and talked to a representative who told me why I had to pay the $19.99. In actuality, when you click on the “Free Edition” to file, you are rerouted to the edition where you HAVE to pay $19.99 just to USE the program and then you are charged an additional amount for the number of states you are filing for. Free-edition states that you don’t pay until you actually file. They had charged me before I even got a chance to save my information, let alone transmit it. Then they wanted to tell me that I had transmitted the return, when I knew that I had not. Rip-off city. Be aware!! I’ll go with Taxact next year.

Luke Landes says:

Filing a state return, even if you’re in the “Free Federal Edition,” costs money. More if you have to file two state editions. It’ll also cost more money (the $19.99 you mention) if you need to go beyond the 1040-EZ form. But your information *is* saved before you have to pay, and you could have stopped at any time. Unfortunately, because you couldn’t use form 1040-EZ, and you filed for two states, the free version you found in Google did not apply to your situation. I don’t work for TurboTax, so this is just from my own observation. Once you no longer qualify for the 1040-EZ, and if you want to file state returns, the process is no longer free, and that’s pretty clear on their website.

Anonymous says:

Today I learned about the power of Tweeting.

Bobka says:

Tried the free version on my daughter’s simple return, and Turbo Tax worked flawlessly except the software suggested upgrading to do a state tax return, but we don’t have a personal income tax in this state! My complex return could use the higher version. Thanks for offering the chance to win.

skylog says:

thank you for the opportunity! i would the chance to win!

Anonymous says:

Can I have it in Spanish language version? TurboTax for everyone! Thanks.

Anonymous says:

I’ve been using it every year for more than 10 years.

One thing I didn’t like this year was that I had two home offices, and it was trying to help me allocate expenses between the two, but the prompting text hid the “total” (line 16). TurboTax online doesn’t give you direct access to the forms, so it was cumbersome to work out exactly what the total was to allocate between.

ulilalu says:

Last year, my local bank offered TurboTax online for free to its online customers, so I used it and was pleased. This year, the bank is offering it again, but no longer free. So I’m back to the point of trying to decide what product I will use this year. I would happily stay with TurboTax if price weren’t an issue.

Anonymous says:

Flexo,
Your article explained the new GPS features of turbo tax well,
Gary

Anonymous says:

I’ve been pretty satisfied with Turbotax for the last couple of
years, although one year I filed myself and didn’t have too much
trouble even with itemizing and figuring out the form for
the 15% dividend rate (which used to be a lot worse than it
is now) I could use a free copy!

Anonymous says:

Thanks for the opportunity to win! I used TurboTax last year and the year before that as well I believe. Never had an issue and it was relatively quick and easy. Definitely considering using them again this year. Thanks for the thorough review!

Anonymous says:

I used a tax preparer for years. Last year used TurboTax. Not going back now 🙂

Anonymous says:

A complimentary copy of Turbotax would be cool. I am a user for several years but always have to wait until April to do my taxes…

Anonymous says:

I have used TT and I like it much better than others. I am in for one.

Anonymous says:

Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you *and* Turbo Tax, so I’d love to win the giveaway!

Anonymous says:

Gooooooo me!

Anonymous says:

TT also has a “Basic” version, though sometimes I have to dig around a bit to find it.

TakeitEZ says:

My parent’s have been using turbo tax since its beginning. I personally use H & R block free online service and it seems to work for me.

Anonymous says:

I have been using turbotax for the past 4 years. Takes the stress out of the process.

Anonymous says:

I follow you on Twitter (@mami2jcn) and tweeted-http://twitter.com/#!/mami2jcn/status/37179133821853696

Anonymous says:

I like you on Facebook with my username Mary Happymommy and left a comment on your FB wall.

Anonymous says:

I’ve used Turbotax for years and find it really user-friendly.

Anonymous says:

I would love to win this… It would save me from buying it this year! Yet another way CC is helping me (possibly) manage my finances. 🙂

Anonymous says:

Have been using Turbo Tax for the last 4-5 years and it does what I want it to.

Anonymous says:

Wouldn’t mind trying out TurboTax this year. Been relying on an accountant for too long!

Will @ HackingTheBank.com says:

TurboTax is absolutely killer. Every year it’s my go-to software. Even with how easy TurboTax makes it, taxes are still such a pain for me because I don’t keep a good record of things all year-round. So I end up doing all my bookkeeping at the end. This isn’t painful for my personal stuff, but it’s a horrible habit for business. (btw, I’m not entering the drawing, just commenting)

Anonymous says:

Ooh pick me, random.org. That would be super-useful. Started a business last year and I’ve never done taxes for one before.

Anonymous says:

I’ve used TurboTax since round about 2000 and I’ve been satisfied enough with the work that I return year after year and highly recommend it.