With tax season upon us confusion and questions reign about what to do and how to do it. What does e-filing mean? What is a W4? When do I need to do this by and when is my refund showing up? As well if you are like me it is time to stop asking dad or the family accountant to do it for you. It really is that sad last stage of knowing you are a grown up. But it doesn’t really have to be sad since with taxes come tax refunds and you may be owed back a substantial chunk of change. The question becomes which tax software or tool is best for me. The most popular and used choice is TurboTax, with its easy to use interface and low price point it is an obvious choice for many people.
To use TurboTax simply go to Turbotax.com. TurboTax is made by Intuit the same company which also owns Mint.com so they are known for easy to ease and solid finance products.
You can start your tax return on TurboTax for free. But if you want added features and options it will cost you. Due to a glitch in their system there is no way to “downgrade from an option” once it has been selected so we recommend starting with the cheapest “Free Edition” to begin with. They also have a Deluxe edition for $29.99 a Premier edition for $49.99 and a Home & Business edition for $74.99.
That one penny off really makes all of the options are bargain but we would say that the Deluxe option is really all that most of you will need.
After you hit start the interface is very straightforward simply copy over the information from your prior received W4’s and 1099’s and you are good to go. The software as you go pretends to do some voodoo and magically eek you out the biggest return possible but it is all rather normal math functions to determine your actual return. Heck if you wanted to you could do this all yourself just the e-filing features that TurboTax offer allows for it to really save you time and convenience.
We were honestly curious if the return was different between the same person filing with the Basic Free version and the Deluxe edition. We actually had mixed results. On one of our tests the results were the same but on the case where the individual had moved to NYC and had only lived there for half the year the Deluxe option actually gave them a giant return.
In the case above the Basic edition had pegged the individual for owing an additional $500 in city taxes but in reality the user hadn’t lived in the city for the full year so they were actually owed a $500 a refund. This led to a NET $1,000 difference in tax outcome for this user when testing out the two products. The Deluxe version with it’s more thorough questioning was able to pick up on this while the basic version had overlooked it. For this reason we do recommend the Deluxe edition.
After completing all the form inputting it should only take about 10 minutes. The software does one last check and you are ready to e-file. You will most likely be charged a fee for filing your state return some where in the $20 to $30 range, but your federal taxes will be filed for free. The total cost for you will be in the realm of $50 and total time from start to finish should only be about 30 minutes, you can even finish it in 10 minutes or less. Doing your taxes has never been easier. Also be sure to save your TurboTax account so you can just use it again for next year and save even more time.