The following review is my personal opinion. As a full disclaimer, I was given a free copy of TurboTax Premier to complete my tax return so I would be able to accurately review the product through the filing process.
With a little more than a month left before the tax filing deadline, I figured it was finally time to get serious and prepare my tax return so I could get my tax refund from an accidental over payment of estimated taxes. I decided to give TurboTax a shot again, since I used it last year and I wanted to see if it made the process any easier.
First, I think you should know a bit of my history preparing tax returns. I used to prepare tax returns for a living when I worked in public accounting. It’s been a couple years since that time and I no longer have access to the pro software I used in those days.
The tax software worked just as I had expected and was similar to my experience with TurboTax last year. TurboTax guides you step by step through different parts of your tax return. They start with some general information and then ask you about various tax items you’ve likely received throughout the year such as W-2s, 1099-INTs, 1099-DIVs and many other forms.
In addition to asking about forms, they ask you about life events and other tax issues that you may have come across during 2012. I understand how people can get frustrated with tax software though because there are so many questions to answer! Sometimes I wish I could have skipped around, but the software doesn’t always let you do that.
What if you don’t understand what they’re asking you with the questions though? There is normally a link to find further information if you don’t understand what TurboTax is referencing. If that isn’t enough then you can always chat live with a TurboTax representative to get clarification on anything you need help with.
This year I actually contacted TurboTax with a question about my return. I had to sit on hold for a while, but eventually I got my question answered. You have to keep in mind, basic support over the phone is free so expect to wait a little bit. The closer to the filing deadline the longer the wait times may get.
TurboTax continues asking questions to finish completing your tax forms. They’ll make sure to ask you about any deductions or credits that you may be able to take in order to lower your tax bill.
Be careful though! You can enter anything you want to into the software. TurboTax doesn’t guarantee what you enter is correct, they only ensure that their calculations are correct based on the information you provided. Make sure to double check the info you entered!
So was the process easier this year than last year? Yes and no! A lot of my information was pre-filled from last year which made the process quicker. However, I did have to call and ask support a question which probably added about an hour to my tax prep time. I was able to do other things while waiting to talk to a rep, but it was a kink in the process this year.
Overall, I’d recommend TurboTax to people to prepare there taxes if they can read and understand basic tax questions and concepts. If you have a complicated tax situation, though, you might be better off taking your return to a CPA, even if it is more expensive.
What software do you use to prepare your tax return?