– Which Version of TurboTax Do I Need –
Which Version of TurboTax Do I Need: If you’re looking for a cheap option for tax preparation, you’re probably considering Intuit’s TurboTax software. It is easy to use, affordable, fast, and more importantly, accurate.
Online tax programs such as TurboTax offer multiple versions for different users: basic, deluxe, premium, and even versions for self-employed or business owners.
The versions are priced according to complexity, and each is best for a different type of taxpayer. It’s difficult to determine which version will work best for preparing your income tax return, so here’s help in deciding on the right software for your needs.
What can all Versions do?
All of the paid versions include:
- The ability to prepare, print, and e-file your return,
- The ability to import last year’s tax data,
- Ability to import from Quicken or Quickbooks.
Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business also include features that can help maximize your deductions. This includes ItsDeductible to help calculate the value of your deductions and the Audit RiskMeter to help reduce your chances of being audited.
Each one includes tech support but only Premier and Home & Business include phone support and guidance from Certified Public Accountants.
Four Tiers of Features: Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business
Each version of TurboTax adds a tier of features to the next cheapest version, based on your tax preparation needs. There are four basic tiers.
As I said, I have used all four of these, at different stages of my life, and found them all well worth it. I found them much easier to use than H. R. Block’s TaxCut software, for example.
TurboTax CD/Download Versions
The Basic Edition
Available on Amazon for about $30. This is the cheapest version of TurboTax that you can get on a CD, but TurboTax also has two free online versions.
The Deluxe Edition
It has all the features of Basic, plus Deduction Maximizer, a feature that searches for over 350 different deductions and credits, and it’s Deductible, which will help you accurately value charitable donated items. It includes many tax forms, but not Schedule D.
Turbotax recommends the Premier Edition, which has all the features of Deluxe plus more tools to deal with investments and rental property, to people who have stocks and bonds or rental income.
It calculates losses and gains on stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and employee stock plans, and calculates rental property income, expenses, and refinancing issues.
The program can upload information directly from many brokers, quickly and accurately, which is incredibly convenient.
TurboTax Home & Business
Intuit recommends TurboTax Home & Business for the self-employed. It guides users through the completion of Schedule C and maximizes deductions for your home office, vehicle, and other business costs.
It includes a simple way to enter income and expenses. Also, it creates W-2 and 1099 forms for your employees and contractors. And it walks you through start-up costs new businesses can deduct.
TurboTax Versions for Online Use
You can use TurboTax without buying a CD or download it by using an online version. All the software and all your information are stored on Intuit’s server, though you are encouraged to save a pdf of your return.
The same four tiers exist, though they have some different names.
- Basic on CD is replaced online by the Freedom Edition and the Free Edition, both free, although they have some differences.
- As with the CD, Deluxe includes added features relating to deductions.
- Premier includes features in Deluxe plus features relating to investments as with the CD.
- As with the CD, Self-Employed includes features in Deluxe plus support for self-employment income (schedules C and SE are not available in cheaper online versions).
- An added tier, “TurboTax Live,” includes real-time handholding from a certified expert.
How much does each version cost?
When we looked up prices on Amazon, here were the prices for the digital download (Mac and PC prices were the same, the disc is sometimes cheaper):
- TurboTax Basic – $29.99
- TurboTax Deluxe – $39.99
- The TurboTax Deluxe + State – $49.99
- TurboTax Premier + State – $69.99 ($54.99 as a disc)
- TurboTax Home & Business + State – $79.99 ($64.99 as a disc)
As you can see, the first two versions (Basic and Deluxe), are available without State. You can’t buy Premier or Home & Business without having it include State.
If you don’t have to file a state return, then those may be good options. If you do, adding on a State filing can be expensive.
Sometimes, it’s possible to do the Federal return with software and to file your state return on paper. This can save you money and state returns are often less complex.
Tips for Choosing a Version of TurboTax
Here’s a summary of my advice, based on information in TurboTax’s forums and FAQs, and Amazon product forums.
- Do you want easy, effortless filing and don’t mind paying for it? follow Intuit’s advice about which version to choose.
- If you make less than $34,500 a year, or make in this neighborhood and have children, by all means, use the online “TurboTax Freedom Edition“ (not TurboTax Free Edition), because it has many powerful features for free.
- If you are self-employed and make less than $34,500 a year, absolutely use TurboTax Freedom Edition. You can’t afford $75-120 for the Home & Business Version.
- Perhaps you are self-employed, do not use any online version of TurboTax cheaper than Home & Business.
- If you are self-employed and make more than $34,500, you don’t have to use the Home & Business Version; you can use the Deluxe Version (CD/download only, not online). It includes Schedules C and SE, which you can fill out in Forms Mode and mail. Using Home & Business is a “recommendation” of Intuit’s, not a “requirement.”
- In general, if you make more than $34,500 a year and want to use a cheaper version than Intuit recommends for your tax lifestyle, stay away from the online versions; use the CD/download versions. You can print out the forms you need and file them on paper, though this waives a guarantee and prevents e-filing.
- If you make more than $34,500, but you don’t have income from businesses, rentals, or complex investments and you don’t itemize deductions, you can use TurboTax Free Edition online (not Freedom Edition), but expect to be encouraged constantly to pay for additional services, including anything related to your state return(s).
TurboTax’s Support Options
Here’s a look at the various ways you can find answers and get guidance when filing your return with TurboTax.
Ways to get help
- General guidance: Searchable knowledge base, forums, and video tutorials.
- Tech support: Live chat or phone.
- One-on-one tax help: Live, on-screen human help with TurboTax Live range of software.
- Notable: Alexa skill for checking return or refund status.
If you need (or want) a lot of handholding, TurboTax could be a great choice. Its searchable knowledge base, video tutorials, and online community are helpful for research on the fly.
Can I Share TurboTax Software?
When you purchase the TurboTax software (disc or download), it says that it “comes with 5 free federal e-files.” This is actually an IRS rule, not a TurboTax one.
The IRS only allows you to prepare and electronically file up to five federal and (related) state tax returns. When you buy TurboTax, you’re allowed to install it on any computer you own. When you do, you can prepare the returns for yourself and your immediate family.
If you’re using the online version, you can only do one return.
You can change your mind after purchase. If you start preparing your taxes with a selected version of online tax software, you can still upgrade to a higher version if you discover you need it.
So if you’re deciding between two tiers, start with the lower level one and upgrade if you find it necessary.
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