TurboTax software can help you prepare your taxes in the same way your GPS can prevent you from getting lost on the roads. TurboTax ensures you are using the correct version and assists in completing your return with a good amount of guidance. This reliable software is available for Windows, Mac and online. It is very easy to use, although it can be a tad expensive (especially if you opt for state returns and audit insurance) compared to other packages that can be found.
With TurboTax you can download and import W-2 and 1099 data from your employer or bank and the latest version integrates with Mint.com (see our Mint.com review for more information on Mint) so that you can import all of your data with a single login. Unfortunately there is no human audit support; you must purchase this separately if it is a feature that you desire. Investments are handled with the premier editions and the online version does not support data dumps from Quicken, although the desktop versions do. (Expect this to change for next year’s edition). One very nice feature is the streamlined TurboTax Live Community for help resources and the ‘ItsDeductible’ charitable tax deduction software, which is integrated with TurboTax.
When you begin working with TurboTax software you move through a checklist of income tax related events. TurboTax uses this information to determine if you are using the correct version for your needs and gives you the option to upgrade if necessary.
With the ‘Flags’ feature you can bookmark any part of your return so that you can quickly and effortlessly go back to it at a later date. There is also a handy ‘Tools’ button, which provides a drop down menu that allows you to search for tax topics if you are need of more information. Links to summaries of your return are also standard, and you are allowed to save and print them as well as check the cost of your online return (you pay when you file). In addition, you can view previous year’s returns.
The TurboTax “Help” functions are well laid out and easy to use, both for the software to IRS publications or even contacting a human expert. The online forum is a huge wealth of help resources and the failsafe ‘Ask a Tax Expert’ will get an accountant to call you within the hour to help (extra fees may apply).
The TurboTax interview is the meat and potatoes of the software. After the first couple of introductory questions the interview gets right to the point. If you need help with any of the questions there is a ‘Guide me’ button that will supply additional information. At the end there is a review screen that presents a nice summary and allows you to verify the information (and make changes if necessary).
TurboTax eliminates the chance of data entry error with the ability to download and input W-2 and 1099 forms from a wide variety of sources. The Deluxe version (or higher) will also allow you to import charitable donations from ItsDeductible online which can keep track of cash and non-money gifts to charity.