TurboTax is the foremost recognized name in do-it-yourself tax preparation software. Since its creation in the mid-1980s, TurboTax has processed hundreds of millions of returns for individuals, families and businesses across the country, providing a simplified approach to a commonly daunting process. TurboTax offers the ability to securely e-file federal and state tax returns simultaneously, saving you both time and money, and guarantees you’ll receive the highest return possible by using its service.
Once you're ready to start your tax return, TurboTax will guide through an interactive process that begins with your most basic information such as age, stage of life (e.g. student, actively employed, retired, etc.) and marital status. Initial questions focus on your income, employment status and any changes in family life. Soon after, you will be asked to check off situations that apply to you. Depending on your responses, you will be guided through a series of questions designed to determine if you are eligible for more than 350 deductions and credits. To receive deductions and credits you may be eligible for, the program will guide you step-by-step through the actual requirements in order to make the correct determination.
After your information is input into TurboTax, two additional features will check to see if you've either missed or taken too many deductions. TurboTax also checks for any potentially missed IRA contributions, including catch-up amounts available for taxpayers over the age of 50. These questions are crucial, since IRAs and many other retirement plan contributions may be paid currently for the prior calendar year. The missed deductions and credits checker, as well as the audit risk results feature, are available in the Deluxe, Premiere and Home & Business editions.
The company's website contains a vast amount of general tax information, tax tools and calculators to update the user's knowledge on a wide variety of tax subjects. In the Tax Tools section of the website, general inquiries are divided into separate subtopics, such as college, e-file, home ownership, etc. Under the general topic of Home Ownership, for example, a new or potential homeowner could obtain detailed information on a wide range of subtopics from home energy credits to the deductibility of private mortgage insurance premiums. Many of the subtopics contain videos as well as articles that detail tips and potential pitfalls for each area.
TurboTax also provides detailed and specific information on the Affordable Care Act and its implications for tax payers, taking some of the more complicated aspects of the law and presenting the main points in easy to understand terms. Novice subjects include topics such as explaining what the IRS is and what income taxes are, which is a great place to start for someone with little to no tax knowledge. More experienced users can also access information on specific tax forms and laws, such as 529 Plans (college savings plan) and applying for an Installment Agreement (Form 9465) to pay your tax owed over a period of up to 72 months. Additional videos focus on life-changing events such as having a baby (or child adoption), becoming unemployed (unemployment benefits) and tax implications of inheriting money, to name a few.
TurboTax offers the ability to have an absolutely free chat session with one of its CPAs, EAs or tax attorneys. If you’d prefer the convenience of speaking to them on the phone, you’ll want to upgrade to TurboTax Basic, Deluxe, Premier or Home & Business.
Additionally, there is a huge section on TurboTax’s website that addresses many questions you may have. If the abundance of information provided online does not answer your specific tax question, there is a separate web tool called Answer Exchange in which you can submit your query to TurboTax's audience of specialized users ranging from SuperUser to Tax Pro Moderator. There are more than 700,000 questions currently accessible via the Answer Exchange, which so far has assisted over 15 million people. So quite likely, your question has already been answered.
TurboTax provides a few free apps for tablet and mobile users: My Tax Refund, which updates you on the status of your already filed tax return, and Tax Caster, which gives you an estimate of your tax refund (or taxes owed). If you used TurboTax last year, any carryovers will automatically be transferred to the current year for TurboTax Basic and up. Knowing where to find specific carryover amounts from last year's tax return will be essential to filing an accurate tax return.
The following prices are promotional rates for TurboTax Online:
Free Edition is free for federal filing and $14.99 for each state filing. This version is recommended for those new to TurboTax who have a simple W-2 tax return and may have children.
Basic is $19.99 for federal filing and $36.99 for each state filing. This version is recommended for those who desire extra guidance through phone support with TurboTax’s experienced CPAs, EAs or tax attorneys.
Deluxe is $29.99 for federal filing and $36.99 for each state filing. This version is best for those who own a home, have numerous deductions to claim or may have educational or medical expenses.
Premier is $49.99 for federal filing and $36.99 for each state filing. This version is intended to help those who have sold stock, bonds or mutual funds in the previous year or own rental properties.
Home & Business is $74.99 for federal filing and $36.99 for each state filing. This version is for professionals who own a small business, may have home business deductions to claim or work as an independent contractor and have 1099 forms.
Offering a comprehensive tax preparation solution to fit the needs of most average taxpayers, TurboTax offers a smart choice for users from all walks of life—from college students to retirees. If you’re looking to avoid the headache of trying to figure out how to accurately file your return, then TurboTax can help you handle this often complicated process with the utmost assurance that your return has been prepared accurately, ensuring you receive every dollar you’re entitled to back from Uncle Sam.