For a number of years, I have used TurboTax Online to do my taxes. When I had a typical full-time career with a few mutual funds and a home it was cheap and easy. However, when I got married things got complicated. My wife is in the military and gets a few tax breaks. She also owned her own place, which she rented out when she moved in with me. Around the same time, I started earning side income with Lazy Man and Money. Suddenly, we had a few tax circumstances that weren’t very typical. I still wanted to use TurboTax because it served me well over the years, but my wife thought it was best we get a professional. It turns out that any kind of lingering tax mishaps will stand out a black mark in your military career that can prevent promotions. In that light, I viewed moving to a professional as career insurance and something that was well worth paying extra for.
All that said, I thought I’d sign back into TurboTax Online and see what it looks like today. Yes, sometimes I’m curiously weird like that. Fortunately my login from 5 years ago still works. I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t (well I do – Sprint disables mine every couple of years). Here were some things that I noted as I toured the software:
TurboTax has always had a step by step procedure for doing your taxes. This isn’t anything new or unique, but it’s something to expect. You have the ability to skip a step and come back to it later. This is a feature that I used every year as different investment documents came in at different times.
As I mentioned, my taxes are pretty complicated. It looks like TurboTax can hack them all. I had everything on the right side of the graphic this year. I was able to avoid a lot of the left side (except for the charitable donations).
One of the big questions that I had about TurboTax handling our unique military situation was answered by the screen above. I have to give them props for explaining it in detail. I imagine that this question would likely confuse many, many people though.
After you’ve completed entering your information it’s time to go through your Federal tax documents. Get out those W-2s.
This is a pretty neat time saver for those who have Mint accounts. I celebrated technology for a minute… until I got to:
The words “Epic Fail” are tossed around much too liberally nowadays. I’m going to call TurboTax’s lack of integration with a Quicken import an official epic fail. Mint hasn’t been owned by Intuit that long that, but they were able to make that work. Why wouldn’t Quicken, Intuit’s flagship financial software, work with TurboTax, Intuit’s flagship tax software?
Who is the manager that said, “Let’s not support Quicken anymore with our online version of our software. We’ll make people get in a car and go buy Quicken at Staples. Oh and we’ll specifically point out that Macintosh users are out of luck – at least we’ll save them the car ride.”
Give that manager an award for being able to decrease sales and upset customers in two quick sentences.
I hate to end on a sour note like that, but at this point, I figured out most of what I needed to know about TurboTax. Truth be told, I don’t think it is that sour, I never used the import as entering the W-2 and 1099 information only took me a few minutes.
I think TurboTax in general is a good solution for some 99% of the population. One of the best parts is that you can give it a shot yourself without paying until the end: TurboTax Online
IPA @ investmentpropertyasset.com says
I have used Turbo Tax for six years and so far I have not had any problems. It even helped me when we moved from CA to OR and rented our house telling me that I had to split the interest payment from when it was our principal residence and then became rental property. I also have a family member that works for the IRS and informed me I had to do this prior to Turbo Tax telling me so I already had everything figure out. I plan on using it again this year but I buy the software and install it on my computer. I have not used the web version as I guess I’m worried about security even though I pay all of my bills online, go figure!
Out of curiosity, did you go through the rest of the process with TurboTax online, and if so, did it calculate the same tax due as your accountant? I have never had someone else do my taxes–I either do them myself or I use TurboTax. For the last few years with TurboTax Online, I’ve tried to do it both ways to check my math. I think there has only been one year that it hasn’t found enough stuff I missed to justify paying for the software. I’m wondering if hiring a professional is similar–their fee is more than covered by the extra credits/deductions they find.
Tom Blog says
I’ve tried both and found my CPA always saves me money.Probably because I hate doing my taxes and wait to the last second.
Lazy Man says
My appointment with my tax advisor isn’t until late March (the earliest she can fit me in), so I wouldn’t be able to compare numbers.
I presume that they’d come out the same if I entered the same information. I always have a few tax questions to ask my advisor and as a business have to send out 1099s and things like that. I don’t know if TurboTax helps in those circumstances, but that’s very much a different product than most people are interested in.
Lequeita Dicks says
I use Turbo Deluxe each year to do mine and my husband’s tax returns, plus children and grandchildren’s. This year I have completed 3 out of 7, am on the 4th. I cannot complete he 4th, I get a serious error message. I have gone thru this return several times and can’t find anything I am doing to cause this. I cannot find a way to contact anyone to solve this problem. Can anyone help?
Lazy Man says
This is why I use the online version. You can get help from a person over the Internet pretty easily. I would think you could ask questions at Intuit.com.
I prepare taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. We do taxes for anyone making under $49k. We do small business and some other unique situations. I’ve done schedule K’s also.
I’ve used Turbo Tax online to do my mom’s taxes and probably will again this year. I’m hoping she’ll change her withholding and we won’t have to do it next year.
call turbotax support, they hire tax professionals with scads of experience to assist their software users. you might have to wait a bit in the phone queue but your problem will be solved. this is true for online and desktop, same amount of support available.
yes i have a vested interest. i work for intuit, in addition to having my own tax and accounting practice. i can compare TT/online, TT/desktop, TT/MAC and any number of professional tax packages for integrity.
btw, i prefer the interface of the desktop version to the online, much easier to navigate if you have advanced tax issues [sch d or e]
biggest caveat: GET THE UPDATES
I’ve only had one issue – I use Gainskeeper to import trade information from my online brokerage. If you do a significant amount of trading I learned last year that you need the desktop version (at least for Gainskeeper, not sure about others). The online version is limited in the ability to handle that amount of trades.
I used the online version 2 years ago and it worked great. The past two years I’ve used the desktop version because of my trading activities, and it also works great!