20 Jun

TurboTax Review 2017 – How it Works, What Makes it Unique, and More

turbotax review 2017

Whether tax season is right around the corner or months away, it’s never too early to start preparing.  If you want to avoid going to an accountant, preparing and filing your taxes online is probably an ideal option for you.

We’ll provide you with an in-depth review of TurboTax, so you can make an informed decision about potentially using them in the future.

What is Turbotax and How Does It Work?

TurboTax is a software package that helps Americans file their taxes electronically.  Initially, a company named Chipsoft developed the service in the 1980s.  In 1993, Intuit Inc. acquired Chipsoft, which gave them the rights and access to this new tax software.  

Throughout the years Intuit grew Turbotax to one of the most popular software options for income tax preparation in the United States.  

TurboTax has easy to use software that helps customers efficiently file their taxes.  When you get started, their platform asks you questions about your life that relate to your taxes.  Some examples of these questions cover if you own a home, if you have kids, or if you have made any donations to charitable organizations during the year.

Once you answer the interview style questionnaire, Turbotax uses your answers to accurately calculate and file your taxes.  They also keep up with all the latest state and federal tax laws and health care, which ensures that their customers’ taxes are always up to date and in accordance with new regulations.  

To complete the filing process, you will need to upload a photo of your W-2.  You can use your smartphone or tablet to take a picture of your form, and then answer a couple of additional questions to verify your data.  Their platform automatically takes the information in the photo and securely inputs it into their system.  

Before you file, Turbotax gives you ample time to review and verify that all your information is accurate and correct.  Once you submit your information, Turbotax guarantees that your refund will get sent to you via direct deposit as fast as possible.  

They also give their customers the option to track their progress throughout every step.  Tracking your refund will help pinpoint the exact date that your money will appear in your bank account.  

One of the new features that TurboTax implemented in 2017 is their free credit score option for all customers.  If you are planning on buying a house, looking for a bank loan, or need to apply for new credit cards, you’ll have the option to check your credit score for free using the Turbotax software.  

Turbotax has different pricing options based on your personal preference and tax needs.  However, they do not take any money out of your pocket.  Instead, they give you the option pay from your refund amount, rather than from a credit card, debit card, or bank wire transfer.

What Makes Turbotax Unique

Turbotax stands out against similar services based on the ease of use with their platform’s software, as well as its versatility.  They also have plenty of options and resources to get your questions answered fast and efficiently.  

The Simplicity of Their Software

Whether you are using the website or mobile application, you’ll easily be able to navigate through their system.  They set up their software to maximize customer efficiency, meaning you don’t have to make extra clicks or take unnecessary steps to get started.  

Once you set up your account, you have the ability to start and stop filling out information at your leisure.  Their software allows users to find everything they are looking for with a simple and easy to follow layout on the screen.  

Their Ability for it to be Used For Nearly Everything

You can use Turbotax for filing both your state and federal income taxes each year.  They also have different options for people based on their careers, such as those who are self-employed and also people in the military.  

In addition to their online tax filing software, Turbotax offers a free credit score service for their customers.  The added feature ensures that you can stay aware of your finances for loan applications, mortgages, or extended lines of credit.

Tons of Answers for Questions Online

During tax season are bound to have some general questions about tax filing, as well as questions that are unique to your situation.  Turbotax has a Frequently Asked Questions page to keep you educated and make your experience easier.  

These questions touch on topics such as when you can get your refund, how to make an amendment, how to file for an extension, and how to track and check your status.  In addition, you can find answers to your questions on other websites and forums, since the Turbotax software is so popular.

An Online Q&A

Outside of their FAQ page, Turbotax has an online questions and answers page where you can ask more specific questions based on your unique circumstances.  You also have the ability to view and read inquires and responses of other customers, since it’s likely that multiple people will have the same question.  

Pricing

Checking the different pricing options for products and services can help you limit your spending.  We’ll outline the different features for Turbotax’s packages so you can make an informed decision and buy the service that best suits your needs.  Also, you can learn How to Save Money By Spending Less here.

Federal Free Version – Federal: $0, State: $29.99

The federal free package allows customers to upload information at their own pace.  There is no appointment required, and TurboTax saves your progress as you go.  You can also get tax returns for your dependents and learn who qualifies as a dependent in your family.  

Customers can automatically get their W-2 information uploaded, which is part of the unique customization experience.  Once you file electronically, you’ll get a direct deposit with your refund as soon as possible.  

Deluxe – Federal: $54.99, State: $39.99

Just like the rest of Turbotax’s pricing options, the deluxe package keeps all of your personal information private and secure.  You will also get notified with any tax change laws, which helps ensure that your filing is always up to date with local and national regulations.  

The deluxe option also offers a feature that explains your taxes.  Customers will get educational tips as they fill out their information that justifies certain tax breaks or benefits, so you aren’t left with questions.

Premier – Federal: $114.99, State: $39.99

The premier pricing options allows you to use Turbotax across multiple devices.  If you start on your computer, you can access and finish your information from your cell phone as well.  You’ll also get tax deductions and credits for everything you qualify for.  

Customers also have the benefit of getting analysis and advice based on their tax history, which helps maximize the refund.  In addition to your W-2 upload, your 1099 is automatically imported as well.  

Self-Employed – Federal: $114.99, State $39.99

The self-employed package is great for entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and freelancers.  Customers that choose this pricing option will also get extra guidance for their homeowner property taxes and refinancing fees.  

Turbotax automatically imports your previous return history to help you save time during the filing procedure.  You can take photographs of documents, such as your W-2, and upload it using the TurboTax software to keep on file.  

What People Think About it

To make an informed purchase, it’s important to hear the feedback from current and previous customers.  Fortunately, there are plenty of online reviews where people shared their unfavorable comments about their experience with TurboTax.

The Public Perception is Very Poor

Negative reviews about TurboTax’s service are not always fair.  Often, people are uneducated and frustrated during tax season, so their emotions get the best of them.  For example, one customer complained that TurboTax charged for the service.

“I already paid for the state and federal.  Why do I need to pay you?”

These negative reviews can make the public skeptical about Turbotax.  Turbotax clearly explains their different pricing options, so their customers can understand the charges.  Filing your taxes without paying a fee is not a realistic option.

Lots of 1 Star Reviews

If you check out the reviews on TurboTax’s website, you’ll notice that lots of customers gave their experience 1 star on a 5-star scale.  The reasons for these low reviews vary from case to case.  For example, one customer stated the process was just too long.  They said, “It took me 5 hours to complete.”

While that review may be a fair assessment of a customer’s experience, another 1-star review simply stated “taxes” as the reason for their displeasure.  So you need to take the large quantity of 1-star reviews with a grain of salt.  

Hidden/Surprise Charges

People who bought the cheapest package for $34.99 were surprised when they ended up having to pay more to file their taxes.  One customer explained their situation that involved hidden charges.

“I could not finish filing my return without paying the $34.99 plus fees, which equated to $100. “

Initially, they paid for the least expensive pricing option, but Turbotax made them upgrade to finish filing based on the requirements of their tax return.

Charges for Unnecessary Things

Customers with no income were unhappy with their added charges.  Some of these people included students that were not working.  A student voiced their opinion saying, “If you make nothing throughout the year, you should also not have to pay to use the free file option.”

They continued saying that they didn’t realize they were going to have to pay until the very end of the process.  The customer took the time to fill everything out and then felt blind-sided at the end when Turbotax asked for a payment.

Stupid Questions on the Filing Sections

Some of the questions are timely, unnecessary, and not beneficial to the customers.  Most people want to file their taxes as quickly as possible to avoid frustration and headaches.  Needless or redundant questions slow down the process.

One customer explained that Turbotax “wants me to print out my return and review their program, yet I have not put any information in yet.  It’s too eager to finish.  It would be better if it let me put some data in first.”

Turbotax asking customers to write a review before they get started is not time efficient or beneficial to the customers.  

How Does the Competition Stack Up?

Although Turbotax has some unhappy customers, they are still a popular choice and a reputable brand.  We’ll talk a look at some of the highlights compared to other online tax filing systems.  For an in-depth look at the competition, you can check out this TaxAct Review 2017.

Generally Seen as the Easiest to Use

Compared to the competition, Turbotax is viewed as an easier option.  Their questionnaire format is direct and gets right to the point.  Turbotax has the ability to get the most out of your refund by asking simple questions such as, “Do you own a home?”

The fact that you can also upload tax forms such as a W-2 or 1099 by taking a photo on your phone is another feature that makes it easy for customers to use.  Turbotax lets customers find access their information across multiple devices such as their computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Some of their competitors require you to meet in person or schedule a phone call.  Most customers find these appointments unnecessary, inconvenient, and time-consuming.  Customers generally believe that Turbotax’s software is an easier alternative.  

Most Popular to Use

Turbotax is one of America’s most popular software options for tax preparation.  Their popularity reinforces their brand name and reputability of the company.  Since so many people use Turbotax, you know that they are a legitimate business and not running a scam.

There are over 285,000 reviews from customers on their website.  The high volume of reviews reflects on the website’s popularity.  Turbotax has over one million customers that downloaded the mobile application to their smartphones.  

With Turbotax’s successful advertising campaigns and their ability to stay ahead of the curve with the latest software and technology, we expect them to remain popular among people that want to file their taxes online.  

Most Expensive by a Lot

Compared to their competitors, Turbotax is pricey.  However, they offer different pricing options, so their customers have the ability to choose a package that best suits their budget and tax needs.  

If you are seeking the cheapest available digital tax filing software on the market, then Turbotax probably is not an ideal option for you.  However, if you want to pay a premium price for a high quality service, Turbotax is an option that can be considered.

Other Competitors

For those of you who are still undecided on picking a digital tax service, we’ll give you a brief overview of their top competitors that have a comparable platform.  

Freetaxusa.com

Free Tax USA offers the same service at Turbotax, but their pricing is significantly lower.  Their package is free for your federal tax return and starts at $12.95 for your state tax return.  They are also a certified IRS approved E-file provider, so you know that their service and company is legitimate.

You can apply for a six-month extension on their platform as well.  Fill out a Form 4868 on their website to extend your filing deadline.  Free Tax USA also keeps all of your previous tax returns on record, so you have the ability to view prior years to help you with the current year.

Their website also has a help center to for customer support.  These tools will give you tips for filing your taxes and answer any questions you may have along the way.  They help you calculate your taxes with a step-by-step guideline, and give you access to the Affordable Care Act.

Taxact.com

Tax Act advertises their service as being up to $68 less than Turbotax.  They also have a price lock guarantee, which states that you only have to pay the listed when you create your return.  Tax Act does not have any hidden charges or forced upgrades incorporated into their pricing models.

Their most popular package starts at $37 for federal income filing and $38 for state taxes.  It’s a great option for homeowners and investors.  Tax Act also has a premium package that is geared towards freelancers, independent contractors, and anyone who is self-employed.  You’ll pay the same state rate as the first package, but $47 for the federal return.

What We Think

Turbotax is an option if you don’t mind overpaying for a service that you can find elsewhere at a discounted rate.  Yes, their software is simple with an easy to use interface, but it does not make up for their negatives.  Turbotax has too many surprises, upcharges, and poor customer service to justify their high prices.