TurboTax Review for Your 2012 Tax Return

TaxesThe following review is my personal opinion. As a full disclaimer, I was given a free copy of TurboTax Home and Business to complete my tax return so I would be able to accurately review the product through the filing process. 

Now that the IRS has started to accept tax returns I’ve finally got around to starting to calculate my personal return. This year my taxes were a bit more complex than previous years because I now have a side gig which requires filling out a Schedule C tax form.

I have a lot of experience with tax returns as I used to prepare them as part of my job in public accounting firm. For the past few years my employer has always allowed me to use their software to prepare my returns. However, I no longer work for an accounting firm so this year I had to use something new to me.

There are many tax preparation options out there but I decided to go with a big name brand for my 2012 tax return. I know a lot of the tax rules, but I didn’t want to fill out a return on paper. I also wanted to e-file to get my tax refund faster, if I ended up overpaying and receive a refund.

I Am Using TurboTax Home and Business

As I mentioned before, I was able to get a free copy of TurboTax Home and Business so I figured it’d be a great opportunity to try the software out.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the software but I definitely see how taxes can be considered frustrating to the general public now! Without TurboTax, many of the forms could easily be overwhelming but TurboTax breaks it down into smaller steps and more understandable questions and inquiries.

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. What if you don’t understand what they’re asking you 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.

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!

My Take On TurboTax For My Fiancee’s Simple Return

I completed my fiancee’s return for her since she doesn’t know much about taxes. Her return is pretty simple, she had 2 W-2s (income from her job and disability income), a 1099-INT (interest paid from her bank account) and a 1098-E (student loan interest paid).

It took about 15 minutes for me to skip through to the sections where I needed to input information from her tax forms. After I had input information from her tax forms we double checked to make sure there wasn’t anything we were overlooking by viewing the various input sections TurboTax has available.

We were comfortable we hadn’t missed anything so we previewed her return to make sure we hadn’t made any mistakes. We then went to file the return but then found out she made too much money for their free version. Bummer!

File For Free

We ended up using a different IRS FreeFile provider in order to file her return for free. Because she had an AGI under $57,000 she was eligible through another provider. If you fall into the following categories you can use TurboTax for free! Keep in mind, only the Federal version is free. If you have to file a state tax return you’ll likely have to pay for that.

  • Adjusted Gross Income: $31,000 or less, or
  • $57,000 or less, and Active military or
  • Eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and
  • Live in any state or U.S. Citizens and resident aliens with foreign addresses

My More Complex Return with a Schedule C

My return was a bit more complex. In addition to a couple W-2s, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B and many other typical tax forms I had a Schedule C form to fill out for my side gig income and expenses. The experience was the same as with my fiancee’s simpler return except I had more questions and fields to fill out. There were a ton of questions and fields too.

My return took much longer to complete than my fiancee’s return but that was simply due to my return being more complex. I wasn’t exactly sure on all of the terminology as it had been a while since I had filled out a form Schedule C but the links TurboTax provided gave me more than enough information to complete my return.

Still Need to File Your Tax Return?

I work hard to provide my readers with valuable information on a regular basis. If you still need to file your tax return and would like to try TurboTax I’d deeply appreciate it if you clicked on one of the links on in this post to start your TurboTax return. I will receive a small commission if you do end up purchasing TurboTax after clicking through on one of my links but it won’t cost you a penny more than if you if went to TurboTax.com yourself.

Have you filed your tax return yet this year? What software did you use? Did you prepare your returns yourself or did you pay someone else to prepare them?

photo by: John-Morgan

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I have yet to use Turbo Tax. I’ve always used H&R Block, but I assume that they are very similar at this point.

  2. Like Greg, I’ve only used the H & R Block program. That said I have always heard great things about Turbo Tax. We actually hired a CPA last year and for the time being will stay that way, as long as we run our business.

  3. I have used a CPA forever! Part of the reason is the advice I receive in addition to preparing the return. The fee is pretty low because I have used the same one for 27 years.

  4. Nice review, I actually just reviewed it too on my site and I love it. I use Home and Business though as I own my own small business in addition to W2 income.

    I’m actually giving away 5 free copies of premier/deluxe on my blog right now if that’s something your readers might be interested in.

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