There’s nothing you can do about death, but taxes can be made easier, thanks to tax preparation software like TurboTax free. TurboTax is an American income tax software package that is used by a lot of people, from your average worker to the United States Secretary of Treasury. TurboTax was created by Michael Chipman in the middle of the 1980s. In 1993, TurboTax was acquired by Intuit from its creator, Chipsoft. TurboTax Free is available for the PC and the Mac (the Mac version was originally called MacInTax). TurboTax is similar to TaxCut, a rival software.
IRS-approved TurboTax has many versions, including TurboTax Deluxe, TurboTax Premier and TurboTax Free Edition. Using plain English and step-by-step instructions, TurboTax lets you prepare state and federal income tax returns without tearing your hair out. And in case you require it, TurboTax gives you access to paid audit defense services provided by TaxResources, Inc.
Turbo Tax Free is regularly updated, so the program is always in sync with IRS federal and state tax forms. New versions of the program are usually released at the beginning of the year, by January or February. You can use the Free Turbo Tax Edition, but with certain limitations. The free version can be used for free federal online tax preparation and e-file for those covered under a certain gross income and age bracket. State filing is not free, however. The cheapest TurboTax product is TurboTax Basic. You can use it online for $19.95 or get a download/CD for $29.95. The most expensive version is TurboTax Home & Business, available for $74.95 (online) and $99.95 (download/CD).
TurboTax Free can handle uncomplicated tax returns, but sometimes you’ll need more. TurboTax Premier comes with advanced features like investments guides and guides for setting up business assets. The ItsDeductible software is also included to calculate market value of items that went to charity. TurboTax Premier and Home & Business also have the 401(k) Maximizer, a helpful tool for calculating the amount of 401(k) contributions.
TurboTax Free Features
TurboTax works simply. It asks you questions and matches your answers to the correct tax form, eliminating guesswork. It features a step-by-step guide for first-time users, questions that evolve with your lifestyle and dedicated support. Note: Not all features listed below are found in all TurboTax products. The TurboTax site has a product comparison chart to help you decide which product to get.
Step-by-Step Guide for Newbies
All TurboTax download products include the step-by-step EasyGuide feature that shows you what to do from square one. It uses plain English too, so you don’t have to break out a finance dictionary.
Getting Personal with Life Questions
TurboTax Free paints your financial picture using information that you feed the program. The questions are based on collected tax information so you see only what is relevant to you. For example, it asks you if you’ve recently gotten married, bought property or changed jobs and then automatically fills out the right tax forms. Using the same method, TurboTax automatically looks for deductions and ways to save you money. The amount of savings is displayed right next to each deduction and credit.
Automatic Tax Information Collection
Salary, mortgage, investment information—everything the IRS needs, TurboTax can collect. It has a huge directory of companies and banks from where it can get W-2 forms and investment information and automatically put it into the proper forms. TurboTax can also pull interest income data by connecting to your Mint.com account.
Get Informed on Taxes with TurboTax Free
The world of taxation is murky and complicated, but TurboTax decodes it for you with answers to common tax questions. The answers are displayed on-screen for easy access. For certain tax questions, expert advice is also available in the TurboTax Community. With a simple keyword search, TurboTax quickly gives you all the relevant answers from FAQs and articles in the community.
Fast Tax Refund with the Refund Card
Get your tax refund deposited directly to your VISA card as fast as 7 days when you use e-file. This is possible with the TurboTax Refund Card, a pre-paid debit card provided by Bancorp Bank. If you wish, you can also deposit your refund in up to three different accounts or use the refund to buy US Savings Bonds.
Error Checking As You Go
TurboTax shows you errors and missing information in real time so you can fix them as soon as possible. The bookmark feature is handy if you want to flag particular pages and review them later. Reduce your risk of being audited with the Audit Risk Meter feature, which alerts you on potential audit triggers and also provides solutions.
Aside from the Live Community and customer support, TurboTax features the Audit Support Center, a help guide in the event that the IRS contacts you. If you need expert live advice, a CPA or enrolled agent can answer your questions for a fee.
TurboTax Free Version Reviews
TurboTax has received generally favorable reviews, mainly for collecting data automatically and cutting down on manual data entry. The TurboTax free version handles basic tax returns very quickly, and if your needs are specific, you can purchase other TurboTax products with advanced features. For those who are wondering, TurboTax desktop version has the same features as Turbo Tax Free Online. One major difference is that the desktop version can handle a maximum of five tax returns.
TurboTax Free version questions are usually clear and relevant. The interview is comprehensive enough but not so much as to make you feel like you are taking the SATs. Common tax problems can be also solved easily with EasyGuides. If you are using the online version of the program, you can import financial data from Intuit-owned Mint and ItsDeductible. On the other hand, the download/CD version can import data from Quicken.
There are some TurboTax features that can be improved on, however. TurboTax can import W-2 and 1099 forms, but it can only do so from enrolled employers and financial institutions. Finding a certain data entry screen can be tricky. There are multiple ways to find a data entry item, and you may have to look around a bit to get what you need. That said, TurboTax Free is still an efficient and timing saving tax preparation software.