TurboTax is generally pricier than everything else out there, but even though confident filers may not need all the bells and whistles that most TurboTax online products offer, many people will find the experience and the availability of human help worth the extra cost. We’ve long praised TurboTax for its design and flow.
One note about prices: Providers frequently change them. You can verify the latest price by clicking through to TurboTax’s site. TurboTax also offers desktop software, where your return doesn't reside in the cloud, but it’s not part of our review.
TurboTax has a lot going for it, but price isn’t one of them. The list price of its software routinely is on the high end of the spectrum, especially when adding the cost of a state return. And if you want access to human help, it costs even more.
TurboTax offers a free version for simple tax returns only; it lets you file a Form 1040, claim the earned income tax credit, reconcile your advanced child tax credits and deduct student loan interest. Unlike last year, the free version no longer handles unemployment income reported on a 1099-G.
The free package also can’t handle itemized deductions or schedules 1, 2 or 3 of Form 1040, which means it probably won’t work for you if you plan to do things such as deduct mortgage interest, report business or freelance income, or report stock sales or income from a rental property.
TurboTax’s interface is like a chat with a tax preparer, and you can skip around if you need to. A banner running along the side keeps track of where you stand in the process and flags areas you still need to complete.
Embedded links throughout the process offer tips, explainers and other resources. And help buttons can connect you to the searchable knowledge base, on-screen help and more.
You can switch from another provider: TurboTax imports electronic PDFs (not scans of hard copies) of tax returns from H&R Block, Credit Karma, Liberty Tax, TaxAct and TaxSlayer.
Auto-import certain tax documents: You can automatically import W-2 information from your employer if it's partnered with TurboTax, but you can also take a picture of your W-2 and upload it to transfer the data to your return. You can import certain 1099s, and the Self-Employed version also lets you upload 1099-NECs from clients via photo, as well as import income and expenses from Square, Uber and Lyft.
Crypto support: TurboTax’s Premier package eliminates one of the biggest pain points for cryptocurrency investors — manual entry. Users can import up to 4,000 transactions at once.
Donation calculator: The Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed packages integrate ItsDeductible, a feature — and standalone mobile app — that’s helpful for quickly finding the deduction value of donated clothes, household items and other objects.
Platform mobility: Like many other providers, TurboTax lets you access and work on your return across devices: on your computer via the website or on your phone or tablet.
Here’s a look at the various ways you can find answers and get guidance when filing your return with TurboTax.
One of TurboTax’s most outstanding support options is TurboTax Live. It offers a one-on-one review with a tax pro before you file, as well as unlimited live tax advice throughout the year. You can talk on the fly to a tax pro via one-way video (you see them, but they don’t see you; they just see your screen).
TurboTax also offers Live Full Service, which does away with tax software altogether. Instead, you upload your tax documents and a human puts together your tax return. You’ll be matched with a tax preparer, meet on a video call before he or she begins working, and then you’ll meet again when your return is ready for review. The preparer files the return for you. Prices range from $199 to $389 for federal returns depending on complexity, plus $54 per state return.
Getting audited is scary, so it’s important to know what kind of support you’re getting from your tax software. First, be sure you know the difference between "support" and "defense." With most providers, audit support (or "assistance") typically means guidance about what to expect and how to prepare — that’s it. Audit defense, on the other hand, gets you full representation before the IRS from a tax professional.
TurboTax gives everyone free audit support from a tax pro to help you understand what’s going on if you get that dreaded letter about your 2021, 2020 or 2019 tax return; if TurboTax can’t connect you with a pro, you’ll get a refund. If you want someone to represent you in front of the IRS, you’ll need TurboTax’s audit defense product, called MAX. It runs an extra $49 and includes features such as identity theft monitoring, loss insurance and restoration help.
No matter how you file, you can choose to receive your refund several ways:
You also have the option of paying for the software out of your refund. But there’s usually a charge to do so — the amount may depend on the type of service or add-ons you requested.
With its intuitive design and variety of human support options, TurboTax is in many ways the standard for the do-it-yourself tax-prep industry. Its products come at a price, however, and confident filers might find that similar offerings from competitors may provide a better value.
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NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest online tax software providers. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of available software to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
We collect data directly from providers, do first-hand testing and observe provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questions to providers. The questions are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The provider’s answers, combined with our specialists’ hands-on research, make up our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance.
The final output produces star ratings from poor (1 star) to excellent (5 stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star. For more details about the categories considered when rating tax software and our process, read our full methodology.