2009 TurboTax Online Review

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TurboTax asked me to review their software and gave me a free Federal and State return filing to give away. This is a copy of the online version. To enter, simply comment at the bottom of this post by 6PM PST March 17, 2010. Leave a valid email address where I can reach you. And now on to the review. This was my third time doing my taxes, because apparently I’m a masochist. That’s a nice thing to learn about yourself!

Anyway, I used WebTurboTax about ten years ago when it was available free through Vanguard, but I haven’t used it since that became a paid service. Back then, I quite enjoyed TurboTax, and the ability to import some data from Quicken. That’s still an option in the new version, as well as a few other features I liked.

TurboTax Interface

Like the other programs, the TurboTax navigation and status bar are prominent and easy to use. I can quickly and easily skip between elements of the program or see how my return is progressing.

I particularly liked the Flags feature, which lets you create a flag to go directly back to a portion of the return if you need to get some information and complete it later. Then you can continue with the information you do have. For example, if I needed to double-check some mortgage interest information after a refinance, but didn’t want to go dig out the papers at that moment, I could flag it to return later with the information. The same if I donated to a charity online and didn’t know what state they were located in (which was true of several of my charitable donations this year), or needed to find a few more medical bills.

Importing Data

Since TurboTax is a Quicken product, you can opt to import some data from that program. I didn’t choose this option. It also gives you the option to import your W-2. TurboTax didn’t require a passcode, but it wasn’t able to import my data because it wanted text in box 12, but my employer entered numbers. I had to enter the data manually, instead.

New Homebuyer Credit and Mortgage Deductions

The homebuyer and mortgage section started with questions about interest and points, then simply asked me if I bought a new home and wanted to apply for the credit. It asked me the necessary questions and then told me which documents I needed to send to the IRS to back up my claim.

Missed Deductions

Rather than wait until the end to check my inputs for errors or missing items, TurboTax runs an deduction check at the end of the section to see if there are any areas you missed that you shouldn’t have.

Charitable Donations

The charitable donations section was pretty easy. I simply had to enter the name and city where the charity was located, then select the type of donation I made. The screens were very easy to use and provided detailed information about determining a value.

Correcting Errors

Rather than continue straight through without telling me how many sections I had left, TurboTax takes you to a summary after each section. I could also easily go back to a section and re-answer the questions by selection the subcategory (deductions, for example), then selecting Explore On My Own. Then it showed me the summaries with the option to go back and update any item.

Overall Opinion

TurboTax is another good program for people with more complicated returns or those who are itemizing for the first time. If you use Quicken already, the ability to import data could be a huge time-saver, assuming you’ve accurately tracked all your information throughout the year.

I wasn’t asked to calculate things myself, although I could if I wanted to. I also didn’t have to enter a great deal of information that doesn’t appear on the actual tax forms.

I found that this was a nice balance between the streamlined TaxAct and the heavy guidance of H&R Block At Home.

The online prices are:

Free for Federal e-File only (State $27.95)

$29.95 for Deluxe (Federal only, State $36.95)

$49.95 for Premiere (Federal only, State $36.95)

Remember, enter my giveaway by March 17, 2010 at 6 PM EST to win!

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