TurboTax Review: 2021
TurboTax is one of the oldest and best-known online tax preparation software programs available in North America. Intuit owns TurboTax and is a trusted brand that serves thousands every year with its tax and accounting software.situation is.
When it comes to online tax preparation software, there are two essential categories, premium and free. TurboTax is a premium software, which means it’s packed with user-friendly features that make filing your taxes a breeze, even if your situation has become complicated due to the global pandemic, self-employment income, or rental income.
In this TurboTax review, we’ll take a close look at how this tax-filing software can work for you, no matter what your tax situation is.
Table of Contents
What is TurboTax?
As mentioned above, TurboTax is an online tax preparation software, but what does that mean?
Essentially, TurboTax enables you to file your taxes this tax season on your own without the help of an accountant or other brick-and-mortar tax services.
You’ll use TurboTax from your personal computer, either through the online version, which lets you log in and enter your tax information through a browser or their desktop software.
There is a fee to use this tax preparation software, and that fee depends on how complicated your tax situation is. On top of that, there are several extra features to give you more guidance, including having a tax expert review your return before submitting it to the government.
How Does TurboTax Work?
Even if you’ve never used an online tax preparation software before, you’ll find TurboTax to be straightforward and transparent.
When you open an account with TurboTax, you’ll have the option to file your 2020 taxes or taxes from previous years. Once you’ve chosen your tax year, TurboTax will ask you a series of questions about your tax situation and suggest the correct version of the software for you.
Once you’ve selected your tax software version, you’ll start entering your tax slips and forms into TurboTax, which will dynamically calculate your refund.
TurboTax will automatically search for and suggest the correct deductions for you, as well as suggest ways to optimize your taxes so that you’ll receive the largest refund.
When you’ve entered all of your tax information, you’ll be able to review your income tax return to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything or made any mistakes. If you aren’t sure you’ve completed your return correctly, you can choose to have an expert review your taxes or contact support for advice.
Once you’ve completed your return to your satisfaction, it takes just a few clicks to file your taxes, and then you’ll wait to receive your refund.
The entire process will take between half an hour and two hours, depending on whether you have just a few tax slips to enter or self-employment, rental, or investment income to declare.
Which version of TurboTax is right for you?
TurboTax offers several different versions depending on the complexity of your tax situation.
When you begin your return, TurboTax will ask you several questions to help determine which version is right for you, but you can always upgrade or downgrade at any point during the tax filing process.
Here are the available options and their costs if you plan to file online with your browser or mobile device.
Here are the online versions available through TurboTax.
- For simple tax returns.
- Auto-Fills your tax return and imports a CRA tax information directly
Deluxe/Standard ($19 CAD or $40 USD)
- For families, students, and individual returns
- Import your federal and state return information directly
- On-demand customer support using one-way video
- Searches through hundreds of deductions and credits
- Maximize interest deductions and donations
- Transfer information from previous years
Premier ($34.99 CAD or $70 USD)
- For investments and rental properties
- Everything in the Deluxe/Standard version plus:
- Investment income
- Rental income and deductions
- Capital gains
Self-Employed ($44.99 CAD or $70 USD)
- For filing your personal and self-employed taxes
- Everything in previous versions plus:
- Guidance for contractors, freelancers, and small business owners
- Industry-specific tax breaks
TurboTax Live Products
If you’d prefer to have an expert help you file your taxes or take the reins completely, TurboTax offers several premium features that serve this need.
TurboTax Live Basic/Assist & Review ($79.99CAD or $170USD)
If you’re comfortable preparing your taxes and looking for a tax expert to review your return, Live Basic (also known as Assist & Review) is an excellent choice.
With this product, you’ll prepare your taxes online yourself. Before you file, you’ll meet virtually with a TurboTax expert who will review your return and ensure you’ve maximized your refund and entered your details correctly. The cost listed above includes the cost of the software.
Full Service ($129.99 CAD or $260 USD)
If you aren’t comfortable filing your return yourself, but you don’t want to put yourself at risk by meeting with an accountant or visiting a brick-and-mortar tax filing service, then TurboTax’s Full-Service product might be a good fit.
This product matches you with a tax expert who will prepare your taxes on your behalf and submit them to the federal government for you. All you’ll need to do is gather and submit your tax documents electronically, and your TurboTax tax expert will handle the rest.
TurboTax Downloadable Products
The products mentioned above are available through the browser version of TurboTax, accessible from your computer or online via mobile.
You can also download TurboTax as desktop software. The versions, features, and prices of the desktop software are similar to the online versions with some slight variations.
TurboTax Mobile App
The online version of TurboTax is also accessible via mobile app, which means you can start your mobile phone return and finish it later at your computer.
TurboTax Pros & Cons
TurboTax is one of the best online tax preparation software programs in North America. Here are the pros of choosing this software:
Pros: The Good Stuff
Versatile: Suitable for students, individuals, families, self-employed, and those with rental or investment income
Live help: Connect with customer service live with your tax or software-related questions.
Mobile app: Streamlined mobile app lets you complete your taxes on the go.
Flexible pricing: Only pay for the features and services you need with versions flexible enough to work for students and small business owners alike.
Instant refund tracking: Watch your refund dynamically calculate as you enter your local and federal tax information, no waiting for the “magic number” at the end.
Full-service options: Have a tax expert review or even prepare your taxes on your behalf if you are nervous about filing online on your own.
Audit Defense: If you are audited, audit defense supplies a TurboTax expert to walk you through the process step by step.
Satisfaction guaranteed If you receive a larger refund from another tax preparation software, your copy of TurboTax is free.
Cons: The Not So Good Stuff
Costly: TurboTax is one of the most expensive tax preparation software programs available.
Excess features: Not everyone needs the premium features, which means you might end up paying more than you should.
Not suitable for complex tax situations: If you have foreign property or income from another country, an accountant or other tax pro is a better choice.
Our Final Thoughts
TurboTax is one of the most well-known online tax preparation software programs in North America and, in our opinion, is an excellent choice if you are filing your taxes online for the first time. The user-friendly interface, variety of options, and premium features make the tax filing process a breeze. That said, if you have a good grasp on your tax situation and don’t need those premium features, you may find TurboTax to be overpriced and not worth the cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
TurboTax uses TLS encryption to ensure the information flowing from your browser to their servers remains safe and secure. Also, TurboTax uses multi-factor authentication by issuing you a unique single-use code sent to your email or a trusted device. Alternatively, you’ll answer a series of security questions on sign-in to reduce the instance of fraudulent sign-ins. Finally, TurboTax has a security center on its website that advises on choosing a strong password and keeping yourself safe from scams.
If your tax situation is simple enough, you may qualify for the free version of TurboTax. If you only have income, child tax credits, and standard deductions to claim, the free version of TurboTax is all you need. That said, if your tax situation is more complex, for example, if you have business income, investment income, rental property income, or credits, deductions, or student loan interest to deduct, you’ll need to pay for at minimum the standard version of TurboTax.
TurboTax is available to use in both Canada and the US. In Canada, TurboTax calls itself Canada’s #1 tax software, trusted by millions of Canadians. In the US, TurboTax has served millions of Americans. You can access TurboTax via your computer’s browser, their mobile app, or by purchasing their desktop software. Their desktop software is available for purchase as a download from the TurboTax website or at physical retailers including Costco, Walmart, Staples, Best Buy, and Amazon.