Turbo Tax Review 2010

February 2, 2011

Turbo Tax Review

I’ve used Intuit’s TurboTax to file my income taxes for the last five years. During that time, I’ve used a few different versions including the desktop and online versions of the software. I like the online version the best, and currently use the TurboTax Home and Business to handle my business filing needs. This year, I’m also going to give the TurboTax Business version a try to file taxes for my multi-member LLC.

Thanks to contributing writer, Debbie, for sharing her experiences with TurboTax.

TurboTax 2010

Of course, one of the benefits of using TurboTax software is that it’s updated with the latest tax laws. Here are some of the changes that were incorporated for 2010:

  • Standard deduction for real estate taxes has been eliminated.
  • Phase-outs for itemized deductions and dependent examptions have been removed for the next several years. 
  • Standard deduction for new car purchases was not renewed.
  • Unemployment benefits are now 100% taxable.
  • Health insurance premiums reduce income for self-employment tax purposes on Schedule SE in 2010.
  • Form 5405 may be required for partial repayment of the Homebuyer Tax Credit.

TurboTax Free Trial

One of my favorite features is the ability to start using the online version for free. You can create an account on the website, and start entering your information as if you were going to use the software to file.

Just entering information doesn’t mean that you will have to use TurboTax to file your taxes. This let me try it out to see if I would like it before I had to make a decision to pay and use the software to actually file.

TurboTax e-File

I always use the e-file option, because if I’m owed a refund it helps me get it much faster than if I was to print and mail it. The IRS confirms receipt of the tax return within 48 hours, and the refund is processed in about 8 days. Federal e-filing is included in the price of your choice of TurboTax software – but if you want to e-file your State return, you may have to pay additional depending on where you live.

TurboTax Interview

When I first started filing my own taxes I didn’t know much about it. TurboTax literally takes you through your information one step at a time, telling you what information you need to gather and how to enter it into the software. The software handles all of the actual math and inserting your answers into the appropriate IRS tax forms.

I always go through every section possible, even if I don’t think it applies to me, because I’ve been surprised a few times at deductions I can claim that I would have skipped otherwise.  You don’t have to complete your information all in one sitting, either. You can save your progress and come back to it at a later time if you run out of time or just need to take a break!

Tax Software Challenges

One thing I had trouble with in previous years was finding a specific section to enter information. For example, I wanted to make adjustments to my home office expenses after I had already finished that section, and I had a really hard time finding it. I think for new users of TurboTax, it can be a challenge to navigate around through the sections to find a specific area.

I don’t think Intuit has made any changes to this, but I noticed this year when I went back to enter information I skipped over my first time through the process, it was a lot easier for me to find it. I’m guessing this is due to my experience level with the software now, rather than a change to the software itself because everything seems to be working the same as it has in previous years.

Tax Questions

If while you’re entering information in TurboTax there is something you don’t understand or a question that isn’t answered, you can use the Live Community feature to get help. There are a few options for getting assistance – an interactive agent, a community forum where other users of TurboTax answer each others questions, and a live phone call with a tax expert.

If you choose to make a phone call to a tax expert, it will cost $29 for 20 minutes – but chances are your questions can be answered through the interactive agent or community for free.

Tax Audit Check

I love that when you’ve finished entering all of your information, TurboTax runs a “check”. It will look at everything you’ve entered to see if there are any discrepancies or obvious errors and then takes you to that section within the software to make corrections.

It will also let you know what your audit risk level is based on the information you’ve entered and give you opportunity to purchase optional audit risk insurance. If you purchase the audit risk protection and your return is audited, TurboTax will help you understand why, and help you gather the information you need to provide to the IRS.

Hopefully this TurboTax review was helpful if you still haven’t filed your tax return yet this year and are considering tax prep software. Good luck doing your taxes!

Last updated by .

Debbie

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Debbie
Debbie Dragon is a full-time writer who has been covering personal finance online for almost 9 years.

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Comments

8 Responses to Turbo Tax Review 2010

  • Jim

    I have to agree with Steve.

    I have been using TurboTax for about 20 years. There was I time when I advised people that TTax alone was sufficient reason to buy a computer. No longer. With the latest incarnation Intuit has made it virtually impossible to maintain any personal privacy – this from a company who should be maintain the highest possible level of integrity wrt their customers’ most sensitive financial data.

    Reading the EULA makes it clear that they can no longer be relied upon to maintain the security of my data and the privacy rights of my family. Attempted installation of TTax 2009 confirms that the practices of Intuit are intrusive and unacceptable.

    To top it all off, when you buy the package (I have Premier Fed and State), there is no way to get the state modules without going online and compromising your local security software. It’s clear that Intuit’s direction is toward trying to force users into the online tax prep service. There is no reason why tax prep can’t be done with software local to the taxpayer’s personal computer – forcing the movement of sensitive personal/financial information toward Intuit’s servers only makes sense if they plan to tap into it (Intuit?) for profiling and marketing purposes.

    RIP TurboTax. You were once great but no longer trustworthy.

    Sad.

  • Ben

    Hey Steve, I’m a software guy too and I notice lots of things the average consumer might not. Like you, I tend to pickier about that kind of stuff just because I deal with those details day in and day out.

    It sounds as though you would have been happier with the Turbo tax online edition. Since it’s web based it doesn’t take up any space on your hard drive or install any applications on your PC/Mac.

  • Steve Thompson

    I am a biz owner and software developer. I need a tax software product to do my tax returns. I tried TurboTax for Business only to find out that it absolutely has to be installed on the “C” drive of a Windows system. Intuit doesn’t tell you that in advance. They also don’t tell you that their system “phones home” and provides them with data you might not want given to third parties, which they “give” to third parties (check out the .rtf file on the CD). But it doesn’t do this if you are running a Mac!

    While most people may not understand why someone would build a system with a very small “C” drive, the fact is, I have been doing this for more than 10 years. And Intuit will not assist you in this matter. In fact, I know how to change the install to put TT where I want it. And the program is set up to recognize that it is not on the “C” drive and delete itself!

    Good software sometimes has warts that are show stoppers. And none of this is spelled out on the box when you buy it.

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