By Shelley Elmblad. Financial Software Expert
The Bottom Line
TurboTax advertising compares the tax software to a GPS, implying that as you do your taxes, you will never feel lost. From using the correct version to completing your return, TurboTax offers the right amount of guidance for just about anyone who is completing a tax return.
- Strong software and tax support resources
- Download and import W-2 and 1099 data from hundreds of employers and financial institutions
- TurboTax has many time-saving features that work efficiently
- Mint.com users import all data with one log in
- No human audit support included; sold separately
- Have to use pricier Premier version for investment support
- TurboTax Online does not import data from Quicken, desktop versions do
- All TurboTax versions include downloadable Audit Support Center.
- Software help or tax help is easy to find when needed, out of the way when not needed.
- TurboTax Live Community help resource is integrated with TurboTax.
- TurboTax works with ItsDeductible charitable contribution tax deduction software.
- Easy guidance for choosing between four versions, can update while doing tax return if needed.
Guide Review - TurboTax Tax 2010 Software Review
The TurboTax GPS
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Check off events that apply to you over the past year, and TurboTax tells you if you are using the correct version, or if you need to upgrade. There are four personal tax preparation versions. ranging from Basic to Home & Business.
TurboTax has two options for completing each set of topics in the tax interview. easy Guide goes through every tax interview question, and Explore on My Own gives the option to choose tax topics to cover and to skip around the return to enter data as tax documents are received.
Links to apply for an extension, transfer last year's TurboTax return and amending a return are found under the Home tab.
Help and Time Saving Features
The Flags feature in TurboTax creates a bookmark anywhere in the tax return so you can easily refer back to add more information or for any other reason. The Flags button is located on the top right of the screen so you can quickly create the bookmark and continue on with your return.
The Tools button, located next to Flags, provides a drop down list that takes you to searchable tax topics any time you need more information. There are also links to a summary
of your tax return with data entered to that point, print and save, check the cost to file your return (you don't pay for TurboTax Online until you file) and to see previous years returns. Navigation to skip around the return is located under Tools as well.
TurboTax has plenty of options for getting help that are easily accessed from the help options on the right side bar:
- TurboTax Help Center: help with using the software, getting access to IRS publications, reading FAQs or contacting human help. Support options are well-organized and easy to navigate.
- TurboTax Live Community: real-time online forum for getting answers to questions through search or by entering your own question. Answers to questions commonly asked pertaining to the part of the tax return currently being worked in automatically appear.
- Upgrade for Additional Help: upgrade for more features if you find you need them.
- Ask a Tax Expert: enter income tax-related question and get a call back with an answer within an hour (fees may apply).
Going Through TurboTax Interview
The tax interview gets right to the point and flows well after a couple of introductory screens. For help with answering a tax interview question, click on the Guide Me button on each interview page to find additional information, or click on any of the help buttons and links mentioned above. The review screen to verify information entered after each tax topic is easy to read, and to edit, if needed.
TurboTax imports W-2 and 1099 data into the Income section from many sources. This is one of my favorite features for time it saves and because of the potential for error that is avoided compared to manually plugging this information in.
Tax deductible donations to charity can be imported from ItsDeductible Online (free), which accurately values non-cash donations and tracks all donations throughout the year. This feature is available in Deluxe or higher versions. If you are using TurboTax Basic, you won't need to record charitable contributions.
Overall, TurboTax is dependable, has a ton of tax information resources conveniently tucked away where they are easy to access and is very easy to use. See TurboTax Features, Versions and Prices for more information.
TurboTax Online Deluxe running in Firefox web browser on Windows 7 64 bit operating system was used to complete this review. TurboTax desktop software features are identical or very similar.