TurboTax Live® 2021-2022- Real tax experts to help or even do your taxes for you

TurboTax Live® 2021-2022- Real tax experts to help or even do your taxes for you

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File with confidence knowing your tax return is backed by America’s #1 tax preparation provider. Every TurboTax Live tax return is backed by these guarantees.

Help From Intuit

Before the days of online tax prep services, there was one advantage to using the actual IRS instructions to do your taxes: They were comprehensive. They may have been difficult to understand if you weren’t a tax preparer, but the answers to your questions were in there somewhere.

You really can’t expect personal tax prep websites to be so all-encompassing. They’d collapse under the weight of all that tax code. But the explanatory content on these sites has been revised and expanded so many times over the years that it’s usually easy to understand. TurboTax does an especially good job at being clear. It often provides brief and simple explanations of tax topics while asking you questions. Many hyperlinked words and phrases open windows containing additional detail. 

Often a question mark or Learn More link opens context-sensitive help in the right vertical pane. Sometimes, TurboTax even guesses that you might have a question and provides related FAQs. Competing sites work similarly, but TurboTax and H&R Block Deluxe are the best at this. H&R Block, in fact, changes the content of the right vertical pane every time you open a new screen, so what’s displayed there is always context-sensitive. In TurboTax, you have to click a link to get it to change.

When you click the question mark link at the top of a page, the TurboTax Assistant opens in the right pane. It’s an interactive tool that lets you enter a question and see links to corresponding FAQs and other site-related information. It converses with you in a friendly manner and walks you through your query until you’re satisfied or need to call Intuit. H&R Block Deluxe has a similar tool, which isn’t as capable, as well as phone support, where both English and Spanish speakers are available to help.

Though the TurboTax Assistant might meet your needs, I found it faster to click the Search link and enter a phrase or question. The vertical pane that opens articles and FAQs might answer your question right away and might not because it doesn’t always prioritize the best or most sought answers. Much of the content comes from Intuit itself (in both English and Spanish), but some of the responses come from TurboTax’s online community. This means that the answer could come from Intuit staff, but it might also come from a non-professional who was visiting the community. In some cases, these responses clutter up the list of search results, which doesn’t happen in H&R Block Deluxe. 

There’s another help feature that I like a lot: On many pages, you see the phrase “explainwhy” [sic] after you’ve completed a section. Click it, and TurboTax explains briefly what led up to a particular answer, based specifically on your situation.

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Taxes on the Go

You can prepare and file your income taxes from your smartphone. TurboTax and competitors like H&R Block make that possible. The TurboTax preparation and filing app is available as both an iPhone app and an Android app. They offer the same tax topics that are available on the browser-based version, so you can prepare and file even a complex return using them.

You have to click a link to see a real-time dollar amount representing a refund or payment obligation in the app. The homepage displays a list of the site’s main content areas so you can navigate to where you’re going easily. Internal informational and data entry screens are easy to understand and use, and an icon at the bottom of the screen takes you to a storage area where you can upload your tax documents for safekeeping. I found it more convenient to complete a tax return on my desktop, of course.

Some help is lacking in both apps. You can use the TurboTax Digital Assistant and click on hyperlinks within the Q&A, but you can’t use the search tool found in the browser-based version. When you click links, though, you sometimes get both an answer and a set of related Q&As. Navigation is similar to that in the browser-based version. You use the Continue and Back buttons to get where you’re going or go back to the home screen and select one of the apps’ section directories.

Intuit offers two other mobile apps. One is TaxCaster. You enter a few details about your financial life to get an estimate of your tax refund. The other is ItsDeductible, a tool you can use year-round to record your charitable donations. At tax time, you can sync those details with TurboTax.

How Does TurboTax Compare?

TurboTax is a leader in usability and functionality, but the superior experience comes with a high price tag. TurboTax includes very little on its free tier, and the next tier clocks in at over $100 when adding State and Federal filing.In many cases, filers don’t need everything that TurboTax has to offer. Less expensive solutions such as TaxSlayer or FreeTaxUSA often make more sense than TurboTax.However, TurboTax is the number one choice for crypto traders, stock traders, and rental property owners who can benefit from the usability.

TurboTax Deluxe

This is the most popular edition of TurboTax since it’s designed for preparing Form 1040.

You can use this version if you itemize deductions and if your income is too high to qualify for the free edition of the program.

Note: If you’re self-employed or you own rental real estate, you’ll need to use a different edition, which we go over in detail in the next section. 

TurboTax Deluxe comes with all the features of the Free Edition, plus:

  • Deduction Finder. TurboTax searches for more than 350 tax deductions and credits, which can help you get you the biggest refund possible.
  • One-on-one help, on demand. A TurboTax specialist is available to provide customized answers to your tax questions. They can even patch into your computer screen to provide you with the most specific information.
  • Easy importing. If you used TurboTax to prepare your return last year, your information is automatically transferred to this year’s return. You can also import a PDF of last year’s return from other major tax-prep services. Either way, you save time and effort.
  • Your refund in real time. TurboTax software updates your tax refund as you proceed through their questionnaire, which helps you see how information you input impacts your total tax bill (or refund).

TurboTax Features and Benefits

TurboTax has plenty of important features and benefits that can make filing your taxes easier than ever before. Here are some of the perks you should know about and consider before you get started. 

  • 100% Accuracy Guarantee. TurboTax is so confident its software will prepare your return correctly that it’ll pay both the penalty and interest to the IRS or your state tax authority if the error is the result of their mistake. That kind of guarantee can give you a higher level of confidence in the product.
  • Audit Support Guarantee. If you’re audited by either the IRS or the state, TurboTax provides you with one-on-one audit guidance from a trained tax professional. They don’t represent you in the audit, but they can explain the issue being questioned and help you prepare for it. There’s no additional charge for this service since it automatically comes with the software.
  • Audit Representation. If you do want direct representation in an audit, TurboTax offers its Audit Defense program. It’s an add-on service that costs an additional fee, and it’ll be like having a CPA or EA represent you for an audit. The cost of the plan is $39.99, and it must be purchased before you file your return. The protection is available for as long as your return can be audited. 
  • Easy W2 Importing. You can actually just take a picture of the W2 form your employer sends you to file your taxes. TurboTax will upload your photo and take all of the required information directly from it.
  • Military Discount. Currently, this discount allows active duty and military reservists to file their federal and state taxes for free. This discount doesn’t apply to TurboTax Live products.
  • Refer a Friend. For a limited time, when you refer a friend to TurboTax, you’ll get a $25 gift card to your choice of 30+ retailers when they complete their taxes. Meanwhile, your friend will get 20% off the edition they buy.

Filing Quickly and Easily

Filing your tax returns with TurboTax is simple and painless, thanks to the auto-fill feature. All you need to do is snap a photo of your W-2, verify your data, and your information will automatically populate the appropriate section of your tax forms.

The TurboTax mobile app allows you to access the full suite of TurboTax products anytime and anywhere. The mobile app offers a virtual assistant help system that allows you to easily view and search the FAQ section, as well as ask questions using a text-like program within the app.

These questions are answered 24/7. Finally, Apple Pay customers can pay for their TurboTax prep with a touch of the fingertip on iOS.

TurboTax can help you track your refund once you’ve officially filed your return. The IRS estimates it takes about 21 days from the time of submission to when most filers receive a tax refund.

In the case of a delay in processing your return, you may want to check the “Where’s My Refund” section on TurboTax’s website for information. They provide several resources listing common reasons for delayed tax refunds.

Related: 7 Strategies to Save You Thousands Each Year in Taxes (Year-End Tax Planning)

TurboTax Pricing

TurboTax offers several pricing options, starting from a free version for users with straightforward tax returns to pricier packages for people who’d rather turn their taxes over to a professional.

Those pricing options generally fall into three categories:

  • Do-it-yourself: If you feel comfortable filing on your own with step-by-step guidance
  • TurboTax Live: To get unlimited help and advice from a tax expert while you do your taxes, plus a review of your return before you file
  • Full Service: A tax expert prepares, signs and files your tax return for you

Currently, those pricing tiers are:

Package Price Includes Free Edition $0 Free filing of federal and state returns Covers W-2 income, limited interest and dividend income, the Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, the standard deduction, and student loan interest deduction Do-it-yourself optionsDeluxe $59 Federal $49 Per State Allows itemized deductions Premier $89 Federal $49 Per State Allows reporting of capital gains and losses Allows reporting of income and expenses from rental properties and pass-through businesses Self-Employed $119 Federal $49 Per State Allows reporting of income from a trade or business, contract work, and freelancing Also works for the home office deduction Basic $79 Federal & State Essentially the free version but with on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return TurboTax LiveDeluxe $119 Federal $54 Per State Everything included in Deluxe, plus on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return Premier $169 Federal $54 Per State Everything included in Premier, plus on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return Self-Employed $199 Federal $54 Per State Everything included in Self-Employed, plus on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return Basic $199 Federal and State Everything included in the free version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you Full-ServiceDeluxe $249 Federal $54 Per State Everything included in the Deluxe version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you Premier $359 Federal $54 Per State Everything included in the Premier version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you Self-Employed $389 Federal $54 Per State Everything included in the Self-Employed version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you

These prices reflect the list prices advertised as of Feb. 10, 2022, without any discounts that TurboTax may offer to people who file early in the tax filing season. If you want to pay your filing fee out of your federal refund, TurboTax charges an extra $39 refund processing fee for the convenience.

Is It Worth It?

TurboTax consistently sets the standard for tax software usability. It’s easy to use and keeps filers motivated to push through to the end. Even more importantly, TurboTax’s partnerships and integrations automate large portions of the tax filing process for many users.If it weren’t for the cost, TurboTax would be the top choice for all filers. But lower-priced options like TaxSlayer Classic or FreeTaxUSA may be better options for many filers, and H&R Block Premium is great for side hustlers.We recommend TurboTax for landlords, Coinbase users and crypto-traders, and most stock traders. Folks in these camps are likely to agree that the time saved is worth the extra cost.

Get started with TurboTax here >>

Other TurboTax Live Features

In addition to live expert help, here are a few more important features offered through TurboTax Live:

  • Auto-Save: TurboTax Live allows you to save your progress and return later in case you can’t fill it all out in one sitting.
  • W-2 Photo Snap: Download the TurboTax mobile app, snap a photo of your W-2, and upload it to your TurboTax online account.
  • Deduction Help: TurboTax Live allows you to look beyond the most common deductions and credits to ensure you take advantage of every savings opportunity.

Special Circumstances

Military folks, including all active military and reservists, can file their taxes for free with the TurboTax Online products. This includes both state and federal taxes and is valid for the Free Edition, Deluxe, Premium, and Self-Employed.

However, this benefit does not extend to TurboTax Live versions or to the TurboTax CD/Download products.

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Live expert advice

The way this year was going with customer service and call-centres being backlogged beyond belief, I was unsure how the live advice would go. To start, when they told me they would call within 5 minutes I said ok, then went to get a glass of water. In less than two minutes, I had already missed the call. While they did call back about five minutes after that, I’ll admit, I was impressed at how speedy that first call was.

After that first call, correspondence was through the email-type messages on the TurboTax platform. It wasn’t nearly as fast as the phone call and sometimes took a couple of days for me to get the next steps or an answer to my questions. I’ll admit, it did seem strange to be waiting so long for the process.      It’s worth noting that I did reach out to TurboTax about this issue and they assured me that they’re working on some system improvements that should make replies much quicker.

That said, it’s not like I was sitting around waiting either. I received an email notification anytime I had something new to fill out or an answer to my question so I was able to go about my day-to-day activities normally and spend my time with my daughter until those notifications came in.

Since there’s always a human element involved, I would suggest not leaving your tax return until the last minute in case there are delays, similar to what you may expect when communicating with your accountant by email.

The entire process only took a few hours, but note that I’m a freelancer so I have more documents to gather than most Canadians. I would say that using TurboTax Live Full Service was quicker than when I did things on my own. The stress factor is definitely much lower when someone else is doing it.

Is TurboTax reliable and safe?

Is TurboTax reliable and safe?

TurboTax keeps your information secure with data encryption. It also requires multi-factor authentication every time you log in to verify your identity.

One of the biggest complaints about TurboTax is the ease with which it attempts to upgrade users to the next-tier product. A 2019 investigation by ProPublica found that Intuit, TurboTax’s parent company, was deliberately hiding its free filing services from Google and other search engines. As of this writing, TurboTax’s free file options are clearly advertised.

TurboTax is a leader in tax preparation services for a reason. Millions of people come back to TurboTax year after year because they can easily and successfully file their tax return. If you follow the directions provided and enter the numbers on your income forms correctly, you should end up with accurate taxes just as if you went to a more expensive professional tax preparer.

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