TurboTax Review 2020, For The 2019 Tax Year: Four Options for You

(Editor Rating)

Ranking

9.6/10

Does a turtle move faster than you can file taxes? Go from turtle to turbo this year. We’ll review the four versions of TurboTax below along with the cost and discounts.

Save Up To $30 On TurboTax


Software Usability

9.8/10

Costs

9/10

Audit Support

9.5/10

Mobile Support

9.8/10

Customer Service

9.8/10



Highlights:

 

  • Easy to use
  • Great interface
  • Trustworthy

Editor's note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone, and this content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser.
As a freelancer with a day job, my taxes are more complicated than most. But thankfully, I’m still able to file them on my own using Intuit’s TurboTax software. The questionnaires are easy to fill out and at the end, TurboTax reviews my answers to make sure I get the maximum refund or owe as little as possible.

But there are plenty of DIY tax software out there and each one has its own unique qualities. Here’s a breakdown of TurboTax’s features, plans, and prices so you can decide if it’s the right one for you.

Save up to $30 on TurboTax online federal products

New Features in TurboTax for the 2019 Tax Year

Apps, crowdfunding, and a stable economy have made investing easier than ever and Millennials are taking advantage of it. The biggest feature this year is that TurboTax Premier has been redesigned to make filing taxes easier for everyday investors.

TurboTax Premier now covers nearly every investment situation, including stocks, bonds, Employee Stock Purchase Plans, cryptocurrency, rental property and more, and provides personalized guidance and advice for each.

One of the biggest hassles for investors is entering all of their reportable transactions into their tax returns. TurboTax Premier now automatically imports investment transactions from hundreds of financial institutions, eliminating time and improving accuracy.

TurboTax Online also now supports uploading more than 2,000 cryptocurrency transactions at one time, covering the vast majority of taxpayers with crypto.

TurboTax Plans

Some taxes are more complex to file than others. That’s why TurboTax has four plans with different features based on your needs. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, don’t sweat it. As you’re answering questions, TurboTax will tell you which plan is best for you and you won’t have to pay until right before you file.

It’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with available plans so you know what you’re in for. We’ll look at the difference between plans, how to decide which is right for you, and what you’ll pay for each.

TurboTax Free

TurboTax Free is for users with simple tax needs. You can easily prep, print, and e-file both your federal and state income taxes for free.

It comes with many of the features of paid plans including the ability to find your W-2 information automatically if you work for a relatively large employer or you can upload your W-2 by taking a photo of it with your smartphone. You’ll also get guidance in case of an audit, 24/7 answers to tax questions in the online community of TurboTax specialists and customers.

To qualify for TurboTax Free, your tax situations are limited to:

  • W-2 income
  • Limited 1099-INT or 1099-DIV income
  • Claiming the standard deduction
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC)
  • Child tax credits

If you’re a renter who’s employed by someone else with or without children, then TuboTax Free is probably a good choice for you.

Try TurboTax Free

TurboTax Deluxe

Deluxe includes everything in Free and includes more deductions. Even if you’re claiming the standard deduction there are plenty of deductions and credits you can claim that aren’t covered in TurboTax Free. These include deductions on your mortgage and property expenses, student loan interest, education credits, medical expenses, HSA contributions, and retirement contributions.

If you don’t know whether you should itemize or take the standard deduction, TurboTax will go through your Schedule A form and determine whether you should take the standard deduction or itemize. It searches over 350 deductions and credits to maximize your return.

It also gives you access to Schedule C and Schedule SE. These are the forms for profit or loss from your business and the self-employment tax. You can use these forms when you have business income but no business expenses. This is great for side hustlers in the gig economy or part-time freelancers.

Once you file, TurboTax will then analyze your tax history for the year and explain how you can take steps to maximize your tax refund in the coming year.

Try TurboTax Deluxe

TurboTax Premier

If you’re investing above and beyond your retirement accounts then you’ll need TurboTax Premier. Premier covers everything included in Deluxe, but it also covers Schedules D and E.

Schedule D is used for stocks, bonds, Employee Stock Purchase Plans, and other investment income. This schedule in TurboTax automatically imports investment income from stocks, bonds, ESPPs, robo-investing, and cryptocurrency.

Schedule E is used to record income and expenses related to rental properties. If you’re a landlord, you’ll need this option to claim tax deductions on your rental property. TurboTax will also help you set up new rentals, calculate and report depreciation, and determine fair market value of your properties.

Premier also lets you deduct points and appraisal fees if you refinance your home so even if you don’t own an investment property you could save money on taxes by using the Premier plan.

Try TurboTax Premier

TurboTax Self-Employed

TurboTax Self-Employed is for contractors, freelancers, and small business owners. It includes everything in the Premier version, plus Schedule C, and you deduct business income and expenses. Deluxe also gives you access to Schedule C without the option to deduct expenses.

You’ll want to choose Self-Employed if you have expenses or are dealing with asset depreciation. The asset depreciation feature is especially nice for keeping track of laptops, phones, cars, and other big expenses so you don’t have to.

TurboTax searches industry-specific deductions, offers one-on-one help from self-employment specialists, and helps you figure out expenses like standard vs. actual mileage and deducting a home office. You can also import your 1099-MISC by taking a picture of it with your smartphone.

One interesting feature of this version is that it lets you import your business’s information directly from QuickBooks Self-Employed. If you already use the accounting software to track expenses, mileage, and more, you can pull that data right to your TurboTax account.

If you run a larger business or have employees, don’t try to do your taxes on your own. Avoid unfortunate repercussions that come with errors in filing by consulting with a licensed accountant.

Try TurboTax Self-Employed

TurboTaxLive

Each of the above plans now has a TurboTax Live version, TurboTax Free becomes Basic. Upgrading to this service gives you access to a live CPA, Certified Public Accountant, or EA, Enrolled Agent.

Both CPAs and EAs are regulated by the IRS so you don’t have to worry about their credentials.

All plans offer the same Live benefits including on-demand CPAs and EAs to answer your questions, year-round expert tax advice, and a final review of your taxes by a CPA or EA.

Try TurboTax Live

TurboTax Prices

Prices are current as of January 21, 2020. It’s important to remember you’re less likely to find discounts on these plans the closer you get to April 14.

  • Free – $0 federal and state
  • Deluxe – $40 federal, $40 state
  • Premier – $70 federal, $40 state
  • Self-Employed – $90 federal, $40 state

TurboTax Live

  • Basic – $50 federal, $50 state
  • Deluxe – $90 federal, $50 state
  • Premier – $150 federal, $50 state
  • Self-Employed – $180 federal, $50 state

If you’re sure about which plan you’re in, you can save some money on certain plans by getting CD versions on Amazon.

Save up to $30 on TurboTax online federal products

Additional Benefits

Each level of TurboTax gives you access to additional tax forms, custom prompts, and fill-in-the-blanks to assist you in filing those forms. But all versions also come with additional benefits, including:

  • W-2 Auto Fill: If you work for a relatively large employer, chances are that TurboTax can find your W-2 information for you automatically. This doesn’t work with every employer, but it is handy for some.
  • E-File: E-filing keeps you out of the super-long post office line in early April. It may get you a refund faster, too. Typically, you can e-file both your federal and state taxes, though filing state taxes may cost more.
  • 24/7 Access: TurboTax gives you access to your tax forms all the time online. This is handy if you want to fill them out a bit at a time, rather than in one sitting. It also makes it easy to print off additional copies of your tax returns if you’re buying a home or filling out other major paperwork in the coming years.

Additional benefits for the paid levels of TurboTax include:

  • ExplainWhy: These pop-ups within the TurboTax software show you “why” certain things are the way they are when you file your taxes.
  • My Analysis and Advice: This service will analyze your tax history for the year and will explain how you can take steps to maximize your tax refund in the coming year.

Software Usability

More than anything, users praise TurboTax for its interface. It’s clean and easy to use. Plus it walks you through each part of the process step-by-step. TurboTax provides the right level of support without begin too in-your-face with tips, tricks, and tutorials.

When you log in to do your taxes, you can do each step in order or skip around to the steps you want to work on. This is convenient when you have various W-2s and 1099s coming in at different times. You don’t have to worry about missing anything because TurboTax won’t let you file without double-checking each step.

One convenient feature of TurboTax is that if you’ve used the software before, it will import your most recent information. If not much has changed, you may not have to enter any personal information. Just double-check it and call it done.

TurboTax will also allow you to pull in information from W-2 and 1099 forms, if they match last year’s forms. If your employer or contract clients stayed the same, TurboTax will pull in the employer name and EIN. Then it’ll walk you through filling in the information from those W-2s or 1099s.

If you work for a participating employer, TurboTax can automatically pull in information from your W-2s. Again, this is a nice time-saving step. If you can’t find the information, it’ll tell you which box to look at on each tax form page. Then, the software will guide you through questions to fill out each part of your taxes.

Sometimes, TurboTax preempts issues in the language of the questions. To be thorough, they have to be sure to ask about everything, even some questions that seem silly or irrelevant, like this one:

TurboTax Expenses Example

I like that they clarify the issue at stake as part of the question, since it does seem silly to ask if my four-year-old is self-supporting.

Audit Support

Once you’re done with your taxes, you can run an audit check to see your likelihood of being audited.

If for some reason you are audited, you can get free help from TurboTax support, including information on notices, letters to write, and what to do next. The Audit Support Center includes lots of information for a DIY approach to handling an IRS audit.

If you have a high likelihood of being audited or you want extra protection for your taxes you can add on TurboTax’s MAX package. This optional service, which costs an extra $49.99, includes several features:

  • Audit Defense: This gives you a dedicated team to handle an audit if this should happen to you. Your return for 2019 is covered for as long as it can possibly be audited.
  • Tax Identity Restoration: If someone files with your SSN to get a refund before you have a chance to file, an Identity Restoration Specialist will help you get your identity restored and your refund back to your bank account.
  • Identity Theft Monitoring: Tax season is prime time for identity theft. If TurboTax finds suspicious activity related to your identity online, you’ll be notified. And you’ll get a dedicated specialist to help you take the steps to protect your identity.
  • Priority Care: You’ll get bumped to the top of the line when you call to ask any tax-related questions.
  • Identity Loss Insurance: You could be reimbursed for up to $250,000 in stolen funds due to identity theft, plus up to $1 million to pay for related legal fees and expenses.

TurboTax Customer Service

Customer service is available through several channels. They offer an online forum where you can find many answers immediately. Or you can contact them online, via email, or by phone. They generally have good customer service reviews.

Remember, though, that technical customer service is different from their actual tax advice. If you need help with your taxes, you can ask the TurboTax Community but you’ll need to pay an additional fee for live CPA advice.

TurboTax Mobile App

TurboTax has a free full-service mobile app. You can do everything from choosing your plan to filing your taxes right from your phone or tablet using the app. And if you download the app on an Apple device, you can pay using Apple Pay.

You’ll want to download the app if you sign up for TurboTax Live as that’s where you can have most convenient access to them. The app has a 4.8 star rating and 280K reviews. Improvements made this year include faster app load times and photo capture ability.

Additional Features

TurboTax does more than fill in the boxes of your federal and state tax returns. It’s packed with additional features that ensure you’ll get the maximum return available to you and that you’re protected after you file.

TaxCaster

Curious about what kind of deductions you might be looking at this year? TaxCaster is a free deductions estimator that’ll give you detailed information about your taxes. Answer some questions and TaxCaster will tell you your estimated return, deductions, and which TurboTax edition will likely work best for you.

Turbo

Turbo is a free financial tool from TurboTax that gives you a holistic picture of you finances. It brings together your tax and credit report data to show you the numbers lenders regard highest. This includes your credit score, verified income, debt-to-income ratio (DTI), and a consolidated view of all your credit and debt accounts.

TurboTax Security

As with most tax software, TurboTax has serious security to protect your personal data. They use multi-factor authentication, which means you’ll get a single-use code whenever you sign into your account from a new device. To protect your account from fraud. You can also use touch ID with the mobile app if your phone supports it.

Additionally, TurboTax uses SSL data encryption that goes above and beyond the IRS’s standards. And if important changes are made to your account, you’ll be notified immediately.

TurboTax Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy to use — TurboTax is intuitive, has a great interface, and it helps you walk through all of your possible tax situations.
  • Trustworthy — The software is reputable and you can count on it to be up-to-date with the latest tax laws. With TurboTax Live, you also have the ability to file your taxes with the assistance of a real CPA.
  • Great for complicated tax situations — If you're not sure how to file your taxes or which deductions you’ll be able to take to save money, TurboTax can guide you through this.

Cons

  • More expensive than other programs — Generally the only con of TurboTax is that it is one of the pricier products on the market.
  • Tax advice is extra — Customer service is only available for technical assistance. For CPA advice, you'll need to pay extra to upgrade to TurboTax Live.

Alternatives to TurboTax

There are plenty of TurboTax alternatives. H&R Block is TurboTax’s closest competitor and tends to be less expensive per plan. But depending on which schedule forms you need you may pay more overall with H&R Block.

Cheaper alternatives to both include TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and FreeTaxUSA. Check out our individual reviews of these products to decide which one would work best for your needs.

Bottom Line

TurboTax continues to offer a user-friendly tax-filing software with features that make it stand out in a sea of options.

Because you don’t pay until you actually file, it’s easy to start with the free plan and upgrade as needed. So give it a try and see if TurboTax is the software you’ve been looking for.

 

Author Bio

Total Articles: 317
Abby is a freelance journalist who writes on everything from personal finance to health and wellness. She spends her spare time bargain hunting and meal planning for her family of three. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, and lives with her husband and children in Indianapolis.
Article comments
12 comments

If you are a Costco member, you can purchase Turbo Tax premier for $72.99, resulting in savings of $11.91.

NorCalSavant says:

Turbo Tax also participates in the IRS Free File program allowing eligible filers to prepare and file their federal taxes online through its Turbo Tax Freedom Edition. You are eligible if your Adjusted Gross Income is $30,000 or less or you are active military or you qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit. State tax preparation and e-filing is also free in participating States; otherwise it costs $9.95. Check out other free e-filing options and reviews in my blog post here.

Long says:

Thanks for the review. I have used the deluxe edition in previous years. This will be my first using the Home & Business version. I used to purchase Turbotax at Costco as well with the coupon, but I have found prices to be lower on Amazon lately. With it still being tax free, combined with free shipping, it’s a better deal.

David says:

I’ve used it for several years. Makes tax preparation quick and easy!

John says:

Found that in the past when purchased via Amazon, if I had a problem TTax would not assist. I was told I had to go back to where I got it from. Don’t know if that policy has been rescinded or not. So I am going with TTax site

Brooke says:

In the past Schedules D and E, and financial institution information importing, were easily handled by TurboTax Deluxe. Has there been a downgrade in this regard?

Troy Plunk says:

Where can I purchase a turbo tax disc that I can use for the 2017 taxes> Which stores are selling them. I have been buying the software at Walmart in Chelmsford MA but couldn’t find it this year.

Frank says:

TurboTax 2017 Deluxe:
Why/what makes TurboTax have to be MAC OS x 10.11. Whatever happened to downward compatible? My Windows computer failed and I borrowed a MAC from my son so I could do my taxes. I’ve been using TurboTax ever since it was a DOS version. My memory fails me but I don’t remember ever having to upgrade my DOS/WINDOWS software to run the program. And since I always buy TurboTax and remembering that it ran on Windows/MAC, well now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can’t afford to repair my Windows based machine nor can I afford to purchase a NEW MAC machine! And as for the on-line version, I don’t like it. Not enough freedom to ‘work’ the taxes as I have always been able to do. Now I’m stuck with the 2017 TurboTax software and nothing I can do with it but maybe throw it and have the dog retrieve it, but my dog died! Thanks for a wonderful run all these years but I’ll just have to do it ‘long hand’, after all I’m 75 yoa and have very little to declared since I’m dependent on whatever I get from retirement! Naturally, anyone who ever asks me about their software will get an earful of negativity!

Sign me,
Angry as HE double hockey sticks.

William Olic says:

I used Turbotax Premier Desktop for 6 years. I NEVER was charged to speak to a CPA or EA. Whether I got it from Turbotax or elsewhere. Now Turbotax is insisting you have to pay for “Live” to get this. This is ridiculous. Here is a cut and paste from Costco’s website on Turbotax Premier 2018 Desktop:

“There to Back You Up
Free U.S.-based product help by phone, and easy-to-understand answers online 24/7*
Includes: One-on-one answers to your tax questions by phone from our credentialed CPAs and EAs ($19.99 value)*
Audit Risk MeterTM — Reduces your chance of a tax audit and checks your return for audit triggers and show your risk level
Audit Support Tools give step-by-step guidance on what to do if you are contacted by the IRS

*Footnotes
100% accurate calculations guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, TurboTax will pay you the penalty and interest.
Maximum refund guarantee – or your money back: If you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method, TurboTax will refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state purchase price paid.

Audit support guarantee: Visit the TurboTax Audit Support Center for instructions how to receive step-by-step guidance about why the IRS contacted you, what to expect and how to prepare – as well as the option to connect with an expert.”
60 day money-back guarantee: Try TurboTax software. If you’re not satisfied, return it to Intuit within 60 days of purchase with your dated receipt for a full refund. Learn more at TurboTax.com.

About credential tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free.”

NOW, someone please tell me how Turbotax can get out of providing Free CPA one-on-one when it is stated here? I wasted two hours on 2 calls to TT’s regular team, Product Support, and neither person was certain, and none of their resources would give them any answer other than to keep bringing them to information on Turbotax Live at a cost of $80. Yet, both looked at the Costco website, and the description I copied above, and suggested I buy it from Costco, and then see what happens when I try to get connected to a CPA or EA. Both felt Turbotax would have to honor this, as they made the deal with Costco, and this is information that Costco didn’t make up – it is from Turbotax themselves.

So, how do I get to the bottom of this, when these TT Product Support people cannot get me to a manager or anywhere, except to a live CPA. Which I was able to get through earlier, and she argued with me that I couldn’t get live support without “Live” when I buy and download Premier 2018. Turbotax should have a class-action lawsuit taken against it, as they are deceitful, and you cannot get to even a manager there to talk to.

RoseD says:

I completey agree!!!!!! I have wasted 5 hours on three different hold trying to get help on what I am sure is a glitch on their program for filing. Compared my refund for this year by entering info on efile.com – Turbo Tax is off (less refund) by over $400.00. I finally spoke to an agent and told her this and she tried to “fix” the issue, then said I needed to be transferred to someone “higher” than her. Left on hold forever. I too think Class Action Lawsuit

Theresa Rojas says:

I have used turbo tax and am always Happy with my results

Diane says:

I have used Turbo Tax for years…and absolutely loved it!!! This year……lots of glitches!! I am extremely frustrated!!! I can’t even do a return, when I get into the personal section and it has the section asking about ISO……I click no and Turbo Tax immediately quits (and doesn’t save anything I have done up to that part!) I just get 2 pop up boxes…. 1-telling me Turbo Tax quit unexpectedly and the other tells me the “lldb” command requires the command line developer tools. What the heck??? I have tried to contact Turbo Tax for help concerning this, actually received one call back, but……all I heard on the line was an extremely loud TV playing and a woman talking to someone. I kept hollering hello, but no one responded ……. just as well not very professional!! I think Turbo Tax will be losing another long time customer!!