TurboTax Review – Forbes Advisor

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Preparing your tax return with TurboTax is a bit like sitting down with a tax preparer. The software guides you through the process of preparing and filing tax returns with a series of interview-style questions.

As part of my review process, I went through the process of preparing three sample returns. Here’s how long it took me from start to drop for each:

  • Single Taxpayer, No Dependents, W-2 Income, and Student Loan Interest Deduction: 13 minutes
  • Married couple filing jointly, one dependent, two W-2s, child tax credit, and child and dependent care credit: 20 minutes
  • Single taxpayer, no dependents, self-employment income, estimated federal and state tax payments: 30 minutes

During the process, a banner at the top of the screen keeps a running count of your estimated federal and state refund or amount owed.

Integrated links on each screen offer advice, explain the various incomes, deductions and tax credits.

If you get stuck along the way, you have the option to pay an additional fee and upgrade to TurboTax Live for on-demand assistance from a TurboTax expert or CPA. When you choose this option, the tax pro will do a final review of your return before filing your return.

You can also pay an additional fee to upgrade to full service and have your tax return prepared for you. Before filing your return, a tax professional will schedule an appointment to review your return with you.

Although the software offers plenty of tips to help DIYers, including a bot (known as the TurboTax digital assistant), you won’t get access to hands-on customer service unless you want to upgrade to TurboTax Live .

And that’s another aspect of using TurboTax that you need to be aware of: the almost constant urge to upgrade your plan. During the 13 minutes I spent preparing a simple statement, I came across no less than three upgrade offers.

Throughout the tax preparation process, you’ll periodically encounter screens encouraging you to upgrade from Free to Deluxe, get expert help from TurboTax Live, or add TurboTax MAX, an add-on package that includes representation auditing, identity theft resources and priority customer service.

In some cases, these upgrades can be useful. For example, if you could lower your tax bill by itemizing deductions, upgrading from the Free Edition to the Deluxe Edition might make sense. And if you legitimately want the extra help of a tax expert, you might be happy to pay for TurboTax Live. Just make sure you need and want the upgrade before accepting the offer.

Some reasons you might want to upgrade include:

  • The total of your itemized deductions is greater than the standard deduction available for your filing status
  • You have self-employment or rental income, capital gains and losses, or other income, deductions, or credits not covered by the Free Edition
  • You don’t feel entirely comfortable preparing your tax return on your own and want help from a TurboTax Live or Full Service tax expert
  • You’re worried about an IRS audit or identity theft, and the peace of mind offered by TurboTax MAX is worth the extra $59


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