TurboTax Online [Prepare Taxes Online with Free eFile]

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TurboTax Online is How I file my taxes

Note: find out exactly what you can get for free with TurboTax.

This is just a quick post to let DFA readers know how I file my taxes and which software I trust for my own returns.  Here is a brief history of how I have filed my taxes over the years.

  • Manual filing – Back in 1990 my dad helped me file my very first 1040EZ by hand.  I continued to file manually for years then switched to TurboTax.
  • TurboTax Desktop - Once released I could not turn down a computer program that filled out my tax forms for me, so I started using TurboTax desktop edition and it saved me a lot of time and manual form entry.
  • TurboTax Online – A few years back TurboTax made their software available in a browser, without having to download and install any software.  I quickly fell in love and have been using the Online version of TurboTax ever since!

I currently use TurboTax Online

This is the 5th year we have used TurboTax Online to file our tax returns.  My experience has been very positive and I have nothing but good things to say about filing online.

In fact, my biggest complaints are not with TurboTax at all but with our employers and financial institutions not getting our tax documents out sooner.  Since TurboTax is released before our documents I am always waiting anxiously to get the documents and start filing.

Once I get started, the entire process usually only takes me about 4 – 6 hours for our married filing jointly return.  I almost always have the return completed by the first week of February and the funds direct deposited just a few days later.  Are you just starting yours now?  ;)

Tax help and tips for first time online software users

  1. You can try the software for free. There is no obligation to buy until you are ready to file the return.  Why not try it?  This is how the online software won me over… I tried it out, saw how easy it was, and never looked back.
  2. Free efile for federal return included. TurboTax Online throws in the federal efile free of charge.  How cool is that?
  3. You do not have to download anything. TurboTax Online runs entirely in your browser as any other website would.  All you have to do is create an account, login, and start filing.
  4. Import data year to year. Every year my tax information from the prior year automatically pulls into my current years return which saves me a lot of time and headache.
  5. You can import data from other programs. TurboTax Online supports the importing of data from other programs thus minimizing data entry when switching.
  6. Tax help ensuring max deductions. After using TurboTax for several years I can skip a lot of the walkthroughs, but in the first year I went through every one just to make sure I was getting every deduction possible.  As far as  I know I have never missed a deduction.
  7. Audit likeliness review. TurboTax Online includes an audit review of your return where they evaluate your data entry to see if anything you claim throws up “red audit flags” to the IRS.   Personally I love this option… it gives me that extra piece of mind I’m looking for as a tax layman.
  8. Checks for errors before filing. Right before submitting your return TurboTax Online does an error check on all your forms to ensure there are no errors that will be rejected by the IRS.  This is cool because it lets you know your return was done right the first time.

Try TurboTax for free and efile for free

To me using TurboTax feels similar to having a tax professional sit through my return with me.  Once it is complete I always feel confident that my data is entered correctly without missing any deductions.  Speaking of deductions, make sure not to overlook any of the 11 most commonly missed deductions!  Otherwise, try TurboTax Online now.

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1 ChristopherFM

I’ve been a Turbotax Online user since 2006 and I have nothing but love for it. Waiting on my H.R. dept to release these forms already! Every year, I tell everyone who’ll listen to quit running to H&R Block or Jackson-Hewitt (and their ilk) for that Rapid Ripoff Refund. It must be just too simple to file taxes this way, cause I don’t know how else people would miss it! Oh, almost forgot to emphasize – simple and FREE!

2 Matt Jabs

My company delivered my W2 over 2 weeks ago… my wife’s employer finally delivered hers yesterday. I’ve been chomping at the bit! Filing early is the best. :-)

3 Olivia

Hi Matt,

My husband has been using Turbo Tax for years now, and generally likes it. The only complicating factor for our family is the tax due on the manse value. (Yes for social security, no federal.) Since it’s an unusual situation TT doesn’t address it directly. We ended up paying for our errors as it wasn’t technically a software issue. Anyone in a housing included in the pay package situation (tenant farmers, military, clergy), may have to be especially careful to make sure those values are in the correct places.

4 Matt Jabs

Thank you for addressing this and sharing the info here Olivia. That wisdom is priceless!

5 Larry F

I like to use TaxAct.com which is very similiar and free fo ll filers. Then I use TurboxTax to compare.

6 karyn

We switched from Turbo Tax to TaxAct this year. Seemed similar but cost less. I’m curious if Larry F’s returns were similar using both systems.

7 Larry F

Results between Turbotax and Taxact were the same.

8 Matt Jabs

Thanks for reporting your findings Larry… again, this type of input is awesome.

9 FinancialBondage

I use taxact also. 3 years now, works well for my needs.

10 Matt Jabs

Maybe I’ll have to do a return with TaxAct just to see what it’s like… and write a separate article about it. In fact, I should probably do this with H&R Block too so I can compare the three.

I haven’t yet because I figure… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! :-)

11 Bible Money Matters

I think I may be using Turbo Tax this year as I’ve been given a free review copy by the company. But of course – as you – I was waiting forever for all my forms from my employer, and investment income sources. *sigh. Just got most of them on the last day possible – today!

Next weekend may be a weekend for taxes!

12 Robert Espe

I’ve talked to people who used both. Their only comment was that Turbo Tax was more user friendly. Kind of a you get what you pay for situation. The results should be the same (if they are right) no matter what program or preparer you choose, or if you use paper. But some require more work than others.

13 cg

I used the TurboTax online free edition this year and last year. Last year I filed by mail because I owed and wanted to mail a paper check (I like to minimize the number of places I give access to withdraw from my checking account). I filed last weekend online and my only complaint was that TurboTax uses the latest and greatest version of Adobe Flash and it was a hassle to upgrade. Flash has major security problems, so while I’m glad they require the most recent (and probably least hackable) version, I wish they had just used HTML forms and left out the flashy animation.

14 Elysia

I filed with TaxAct last night after using TurboTax online for years (at least 7). Although I do find TurboTax more user-friendly and logical in layout, I think the fees are high and I got pretty mad at them yesterday. After filling everything out, apparently on one page I said I’d try the Premier version — I don’t even remember doing this. TT wanted me to pay 86$ to file Premier and State taxes and there was no way to downgrade from Premier — had I known that I would never have said I’d try it. The only way according to their live community is to start a new return with a new user id, thereby losing all of your previous years information. I realize it was 20$ more and I surely spent more time on it than that, but I felt scammed and outraged, and if I was losing my history and entering everything again, I wasn’t going to do it with TurboTax.
TaxAct seems to have done fine with my information. And Intuit has lost a customer….

15 Matt Jabs

Hmmm, I didn’t think you were charged until after you filed.

16 Elysia

You aren’t charged until you file, but that’s what it would have charged me had I chosen to file, and there was no way to switch to another filing plan.

17 Kelly

I had this happen last year, but didn’t realize until after I paid. I complained, and they refunded me-still you have to make sure you don’t click OK in a few spots or it will upgrade you based on your answers.

18 Anne

I’ve got dead easy taxes, as does the person I help file. This year after using CompleteTax and HRBlock’s online version I decided to try TurboTax for the sake of comparison.

I was very pleased. It was, BY FAR, the most user friendly option I’ve tried. I didn’t even mind doing my state return just to delete it to avoid paying anything. I just viewed it as TurboTax checking my numbers for me so I was sure of them when I went and e-filed through my state’s page. My only warning to folks using the free edition is to remember that you can probably file your state return for free elsewhere. Don’t get scared and feel like you have to pay TurboTax to file it.

19 Matt Jabs

Good advice Anne, thanks.

20 webdoyenne

I use TurboTax Home & Business Online…can’t use the free version, but if you enter the TurboTax website through certain financial institutions, you get a discount. I know a 35% discount is available via Bank of America and Vanguard.

21 Matt Jabs

Yep, I used a link I received from Schwab for 35% off. :-) Gotta love discounts.

22 Lakita (PFJourney)

I’ve been using Turbo Tax for the past 4 or 5 years. I also file late Jan / early Feb and this year was no different. I love that I can import data from last year and it can pull information from my W-2s electronically too….sweet!

23 Steve Thompson

I am a biz owner and software developer. I need a tax software product to do my tax returns. I tried TurboTax for Business only to find out that it absolutely has to be installed on the “C” drive of a Windows system. Intuit doesn’t tell you that in advance. They also don’t tell you that their system “phones home” and provides them with data you might not want given to third parties, which they “give” to third parties (check out the .rtf file on the CD). But it doesn’t do this if you are running a Mac!

While most people may not understand why someone would build a system with a very small “C” drive, the fact is, I have been doing this for more than 10 years. And Intuit will not assist you in this matter. In fact, I know how to change the install to put TT where I want it. And the program is set up to recognize that it is not on the “C” drive and delete itself!

Good software sometimes has warts that are show stoppers. And none of this is spelled out on the box when you buy it.

24 Matt Jabs

Are your expectations are unrealistic? As a software developer you may want to carefully reconsider your expectations on Intuit and buffer accordingly.

25 Steve Thompson

Ever heard of VMWare? This is why the “C” drive was built so small — all the rest of the space is on the Host (which is Linux) but appears as a network drive. And it is really interesting that all other software that we need to use with W/XP does not require that it be installed on the “C” drive. They don’t care (accounting software, data base oriented products, etc.).

So are my expectations unrealistic for a business? Let’s see, a product that is going to be used for 2 months and then is basically not needed. So this product should be written so that it can only install on the “C” drive and it installs other software that continues to live and run…

Shouldn’t your response have been, hmmph. Why would any one hard code their install in this day and age to only be able to write to the “C” drive? And why would they check to see if you modified it to run (registry and all) from the “E” drive, and then delete the programs from the “E” drive.

To that I would say, “Good question Matt.” Why don’t you ask Intuit that question, assuming you can actually talk to anyone who will do anything more than repeat the party line, “We have to install on only the “C” drive.”

And checking their forums, you might find more than one person is unhappy about this (and they are running the personal versions!!).

26 Matt Jabs

It’s a good thing nobody is forcing you to use the software Steve.
PS… I don’t work for Intuit. :)

27 DiscipleshipGuy

I was considering using the TurboTax online for my taxes this year, but when you said 4-6 hours and you were done, well that to me was a big no thanks. I am just going to have my local tax person do it for $50 and be done. I don’t want to make a mistake that will cost me much more in the long run….

28 Larry F

If you have all your W2′s, 1099′s, DIV, INT, etc. documents and your life doesn’t have compexities with securities, then you can be done in an hour including double checking.

I used TurboxTax and TaxAct in parallel and triple checked everything and ran through their alerts and that took 2 hours.

29 Daddy Paul

Matt
I have to disagree with you here. Turbo tax drives me nuts. I would rather pay a tax accountant a 100 bucks. The tax advice I get from her is worth the money plus she gets me much larger refunds than turbo tax.

30 Kris D

As a CPA I can tell you that if your paying a $100 for a tax return, your probably getting an intern, someone with very little tax knowledge, or someone who is blowing through your return as fast as possible. For my firm a combination of federal and state starts at $400.

31 Sam

I agree with Kris, tax accountants don’t come cheap and I know accounting interns charging 200 bucks for that type of service. CPAs and accounting software all have their advantages and disadvantages and I guess it all boils down to how much you’re willing to pay and what type of service you are comfortable with.

32 Devon Sibbell

I think if your tax situation does not change greatly between tax seasons, you are alright completing your taxes yourself following the prior year’s return as a guide. But if there is something significant that you are unsure about, going to see a CPA is a good ideal.

33 MC

I keep hearing TurboTax is free to e-file. Why have I been paying nearly $50 every year? I just finished my parents and yet again the fee to e-file is $49.99!
Below is what I see EVERY year. How are you people all getting this for free?

How Do You Want to Pay for TurboTax?
You have two options:
- Deduct from your refund – and get an e-mail when your refund is on its way
If you don’t want to use a credit card, you can subtract the fees from your federal tax refund and have the balance of your refund deposited directly to your bank account. There is an additional fee of $29.95 for this Refund Processing Service.
-Use your credit card

You can charge your fees to your credit card.

34 Matt Jabs

Good question MC, this article should answer it. God bless.

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