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TurboTax Review 2020

Feb. 10, 2020
Income Taxes, Investment Taxes, Personal Taxes, Property Taxes, Taxes
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

TurboTax is generally pricier than everything else out there, but even though confident filers may not need all the bells and whistles that most TurboTax online products offer, many people will find the experience worth a few extra bucks. We’ve long praised TurboTax for its design and flow.


 

FREE

 

DELUXE

 

PREMIER

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • User-friendly, interview-style Q&A.
  • Live, on-screen support option raises the bar in human help.
  • Some of the most expensive software on the market.
Start your return on TurboTax's website
 

↓ Compare TurboTax with other software

 

FREE

 

DELUXE

 

PREMIER

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • User-friendly, interview-style Q&A
  • Live, on-screen support option raises the bar in human help.
  • Some of the most expensive software on the market.
Start your return on TurboTax's website
 

↓ Compare TurboTax with other software

 

FREE

 

DELUXE

 

PREMIER

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • User-friendly, interview-style Q&A
  • Live, on-screen support option raises the bar in human help.
  • Some of the most expensive software on the market.
Start your return on TurboTax's website
 
 

↓ Compare TurboTax with other software


TurboTax’s prices

TurboTax has a lot going for it, but price isn’t one of them. The list price of its software routinely is on the high end of the spectrum, especially when you factor in the added cost of a state return. And if you want access to human help, it costs even more.

TurboTax offers a free version that lets you file a Form 1040 but not schedules 1, 2 or 3. You would need those schedules in the process of reporting things such as business income, alimony, deductible student loan interest, certain retirement contributions, alternative minimum tax, the credit for dependent care expenses, the Lifetime Learning Credit or the Saver’s Credit.

Translation: If you plan to itemize, were a landlord, freelanced or ran a small business or had any other situation going on that requires filing one of these separate schedules, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version.

Available packages and list prices

FREE

• Federal: $0
• State: $0

This allows you to file a 1040 and a state return for free, but you can’t itemize or file schedules 1-3. Generally, it works only for people who don’t 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: $80
• State: $50

This is essentially the free version but with on-demand video access to a tax pro for help, advice and a final review.
DELUXE

• Federal: $60 (with Live: $120)
• State: $50 (with Live: $55)

This version lets you itemize and claim several other tax deductions and tax credits. You can file a Schedule C for business income (but not expenses). You can’t report capital gains or rental income (Schedules D and E).
PREMIER

• Federal: $90 (with Live: $170)
• State: $50 (with Live: $55)

This is the Deluxe version plus capability for reporting investments and rental income (it supports Schedules D and E and K-1s).
SELF-EMPLOYED

• Federal: $120 (with Live: $200)
• State: $50 (with Live: $55)

Gets you everything in the Premier version plus support for the home office deduction, extra deduction help and special expense-tracking features for freelancers, independent contractors and side-hustlers. Comes with a one-year subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed.

One note about prices: Providers frequently change them. We’ll keep updating this review, but you can verify the latest price by clicking through to TurboTax’s site. TurboTax also offers desktop software, where your return doesn’t reside in the cloud, but it’s not part of our review.


TurboTax’s ease of use

What it looks like

TurboTax’s products are some of the most user-focused on the market. The interface is like a chat with a tax preparer, and it makes an effort to explain concepts right on the page as you work. You can skip around if you need to, and a banner running along the side keeps track of where you stand in the process and flags areas you still need to complete.

Handy tools

You can import your W-2 information from your employer, but you can also take a picture of it and transfer the data to your return. The latter is especially helpful if you have multiple W-2s. You can import 1099s.

The Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed packages also integrate ItsDeductible, a feature — and standalone mobile app — that’s helpful for quickly finding the deduction value of donated clothes, household items or other objects.

The Self-Employed version also offers a neat expense-tracking feature through QuickBooks, including the ability to store photos of your receipts and track mileage from your phone.

Where you can use it

Like many other providers, TurboTax lets you access and work on your return across devices: on your computer via the website or on your phone or tablet via an app.


TurboTax’s support options

Here’s a look at the various ways you can find answers and get guidance when filing your return with TurboTax.

Ways to get help

  • General guidance: Searchable knowledge base, forums and video tutorials.
  • Tech support: Live chat or phone.
  • One-on-one tax help: Live, on-screen human help with TurboTax Live range of software.
  • Notable: Alexa skill for checking return or refund status.

If you need (or want) a lot of handholding, TurboTax could be a great choice. Its searchable knowledge base, video tutorials and online community are helpful for research on the fly.

One of TurboTax’s most outstanding support options is TurboTax Live. It offers a one-on-one review with a CPA or enrolled agent before you file, as well as unlimited live tax advice. They’ll even sign and e-file your tax return if you want. You can make an appointment or talk on the fly to a tax pro via one-way video (you see them, but they don’t see you; they just see your screen). To boot, you can get tax advice year-round with TurboTax Live.

If you’re audited

Getting audited is scary, so it’s important to know what kind of support you’re getting from your tax software. First, be sure you know the difference between “support” and “defense.” With most providers, audit support (or “assistance”) typically means guidance about what to expect and how to prepare — that’s it. Audit defense, on the other hand, gets you full representation before the IRS from a tax professional.

TurboTax gives everyone free audit support from a tax pro to help you understand what’s going on if you get that dreaded letter, but if you want someone to represent you in front of the IRS, you’ll need TurboTax’s audit defense product, called Max Defend and Restore. It runs $45 to $60 and includes features such as identity theft monitoring, loss insurance and restoration help.

If you’re getting a refund

No matter how you file, you can choose to receive your federal refund via direct deposit to a bank account — that’s the fastest option. You can also have your refund loaded onto a Turbo Visa Debit Card. (If you’re getting a refund on your state taxes, see if your state offers a prepaid card option as well.) Other options include getting an old-fashioned paper check, applying the refund to next year’s taxes or directing the IRS to buy U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund.

You have the option of paying for the software out of your refund. But there’s a $40 charge to do that.

How TurboTax compares

TurboTax



Read full review



Read full review



Read full review

Pricing

On the higher end




Ease of use

Q&A user flow is one of the best




Support options

Live video help from a tax pro, online FAQs


 

Pricing

On the higher end




Ease of use

Clear and helpful interface




Support options

Live video help from a tax pro, online FAQs, 11,000 locations


 

Pricing

Good value pick




Ease of use

Simpler, less focus on design




Support options

Screen sharing, online FAQs, phone and chat


 
Compare more software

The bottom line

With its cutting-edge support and comprehensive design, TurboTax is in many ways the standard for the do-it-yourself tax-prep industry. Its products come at a price, however, and confident filers who don’t need all the bells and whistles may get a better value elsewhere.

Start your return on TurboTax's website

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