TurboTax Review: Is it the Best Option for You?
TurboTax is one of the best-known tax filing software packages, having been around since the early 1980s. Over that time, it’s established a great reputation, especially for people filing their taxes for the first time, despite being a little bit more expensive than some of the alternatives.
There is a desktop version, but in this TurboTax review we’ll be looking at TurboTax online – answering the questions, “How does TurboTax work?” and the all-important, “Is TurboTax good?”
What is TurboTax?
What is TurboTax? Simply, it is software that guides you through the complicated process of filing your taxes. At its simplest – particularly in its free iteration – TurboTax software makes your taxes a lot less painful. But it also pledges to get you the largest tax refund possible, promising to save you money compared to filing your taxes by hand.
TurboTax software comes in different tiers, offering more support – and complexity – the more you pay. The free version of the TurboTax app allows for simple self-service filing, with very little support, as you work up the tiers you gain access to more complex features and greater levels of support, up to and including personalized advice from a tax professional.
How does TurboTax work? Highlights of the TurboTax app include:
- Free self-service tax filing – Form 1040 and a limited selection of other forms and schedules.
- Assisted tax filing – Expert advice while filing your return, and a final review before you file.
- Tax experts service – Pay extra to get a tax expert to file your return for you.
- Tax refund estimator – Use the TaxCaster Tax Calculator to calculate your return (or how much you owe).
- Audit Support Guarantee – Free year-round audit support, including one-on-one guidance.
- Federal & State Tax filing – File for Federal and State taxes directly from the TurboTax software.
Access to each feature depends on which level of TurboTax online you’re using (TurboTax rates are described under ‘How Much is TurboTax?’ below.)
TurboTax Filing Options
There are three broad TurboTax options for filing:
The easiest route is letting TurboTax online guide you. Asking a series of questions, it will take you through each element of your tax return, your answers dictating where it takes you next.
If you’re comfortable with your taxes – and know how to use TurboTax software – you can go through each section by yourself, skipping the parts that aren’t relevant to you.
Pay a little extra and you can have a tax adviser talk you through it, or even fill out your return on your behalf.
Whichever TurboTax option you use, its automated return checker will let you know if you’ve missed anything, and you can have a tax adviser give it a final review as well.
Pros & Cons
For most people, there’s very little downside to TurboTax, but it does have some drawbacks. Here’s a quick at-a-glance TurboTax app review.
- Easy to use
- Access to human advisers
- Guaranteed audit support
- Maximum tax refund guaranteed
- You have to pay for more complex taxes
- TurboTax rates are a little higher than its rivals
The principal drawback is cost. But if your taxes are anything like ours, TurboTax online is a worthwhile investment.
How Much is TurboTax: Packages and Plans
So how much does TurboTax cost? That depends on how you intend to use it. The table below gives a brief overview of the TurboTax options available.
|Covers||Simple tax returns only||350+ tax deductions and credits, incl. property and mortgage||Stocks, bonds, ESPPs, rental income and crypto investments||Personal & business income|
|Federal Expert Help||$50 (State Included)||$120||$170||$200|
|State Expert Help||£50 (Federal Included)||$55||$55||$55|
It should be noted that the prices above are as listed, but TurboTax rates are often discounted, changing throughout the tax year. At the time of writing, state filing is $40 (rather than $50) on top of the package price. And each tier is discounted by $20-$30.
Also, if you’ve wondered ‘Is there a fee for TurboTax?’ unless you’re using the free edition, the answer is ‘yes’. The state fee is for each state you file in, which can really add up.
Where to Buy TurboTax
Wondering where to buy TurboTax? You can get it directly from their website, or retailers like Costco, Walmart, Staples, and Best Buy.
Ease of Use
Is TurboTax easy to use? Absolutely. Its ease of use is its principal benefit over competitors. If you want to control the software yourself, you can, but it’s the Q&A walkthrough interface and access to varying levels of human support that really make TurboTax shine.
There are lots of TurboTax options for support, both for learning how to use TurboTax and for help with filing your return. Broadly, these fall into three camps:
Community & content
Searchable knowledge base and forums. Video tutorials and articles.
All users can use the TurboTax Assistant chatbot, or get in touch with TurboTax via the contact form.
TurboTax Live support
Paying for TurboTax Live gets you live on-screen advice from a human tax adviser. They’ll also answer any queries within 24 hours of submission.
TurboTax online also features lots of tools to help. For example, if you’re asking, “I filed with TurboTax when will I get my refund?” there’s a refund tracker tool to check on progress after you’ve filed.
There’s also bound to be a knowledge base entry where someone’s already asked, “I filed with TurboTax when will I get my refund?”
Is there a fee for Turbotax support? Broadly, no. But of course, you pay for live tax advice.
Is TurboTax Safe?
TurboTax prides itself on safety. TurboTax online features multi-factor authentication – asking you to verify your log-in on a secondary device, your email account, or by answering a series of questions – as well as biometric touch ID if you have a fingerprint-enabled device.
You can access your log-in history at any time and receive automated emails any time your account information is changed, so you can verify it was you.
When your return is filed, it is sent over an encrypted SSL connection that exceeds IRS standards. And TurboTax has a team of dedicated security working with the IRS on anti-fraud measures.
TurboTax Online vs Brick and Mortar
When compared to an in-real-life tax adviser, is TurboTax good? We’d say so. For starters, you can walk through your return with a human adviser if you’re willing to pay for it, or even just get a professional to check over your work.
The advantage of using TurboTax online is that you can work through it at your own pace, and ask for as much – or as little – support as you like, within a clear flat-fee pricing structure. And the software should help most people through the majority of their return without the need for additional help, anyway; probably working out cheaper than hiring a high street tax advisor from the get-go.
And if you’re questioning ‘how accurate is TurboTax?’, the software and services are backed by some pretty hefty guarantees…
Is TurboTax Accurate?
How accurate is TurboTax? There’s no sense in using the software if it introduces errors. Thankfully, accuracy is a point TurboTax is particularly insistent on. All returns can be checked by their automated tool, and if there are any problems, TurboTax says they’ll pay any penalties or fees that result from inaccuracies on your return.
Similarly, TurboTax guarantees you’ll receive the maximum possible refund you could. If you can demonstrate you could have got a bigger refund using a different method of filing, they’ll pay you the difference. All of which is a pretty confident response to the question, “Is TurboTax accurate?”
Who is TurboTax Best For?
Truthfully, TurboTax software is a great option for anyone looking for a hand in making tax filing more efficient than doing it all by hand.
But it’s best for people who’ve never managed to get their heads around tax, or are just beginning to file for themselves. The comprehensive support available – automated and otherwise – is easily tailored to the level you need, with clear up-front pricing that won’t get away from you. It’s best for anyone who’s wondered ‘is Turbotax easy?’
If TurboTax rates are a bit high for you, there are cheaper alternatives worth considering. The three big hitters are:
H&R Block offers much the same as TurboTax, at a slightly reduced price. What it lacks is the hand-holding Q&A process of TurboTax online, making it a little less suited to beginners. Read our H&R Block review.
Like a pared-down TurboTax. Most of the same functionality but with a slightly less user-friendly interface, pared-down audit coverage, and reputedly less comprehensive support.
The IRS’s own online filing service, E-file is the cheapest option, and can be free. There is telephone and e-support but you’re largely on your own. If you’re confident, E-File could be for you.
In the online tax filing game, you get what you pay for. TurboTax is slightly more expensive, but you get the most bang for your buck. If you need a little less bang, you can pay fewer bucks.
To sum up this TurboTax app review, TurboTax is great for people who need a hand filing their taxes. In fact, it’s arguably the best on the market if support is what you need.
That said, it is a little more expensive than its competitors. So if you know your way around your tax return – and might only need to ask a couple of questions – you could save yourself money by using a different software package.
If you’re not sure exactly what you’ll need, and can afford a few extra dollars, then TurboTax is the obvious option. You’re bound to get what you need out of it.
If you’re looking for where to buy TurboTax, or want to find out more, visit the TurboTax website.