The other day I was wondering if I owe any income tax this year, so I decided to give Intuit TurboTax Online Federal Free software a try. In general, I was impressed at how far online software industry has evolved over the years (not just Intuit’s). For this 2008 tax year software, you could hardly tell that you are working with a tax preparation software that is shown through a web browser.
When I first signed up, I was immediately impressed by the well-designed user interface. It’s very clean, intuitive, and organized. The software does an excellent job of getting me started and moving in the right direction. I have to say that the interface is even better than desktop tax software from a few years ago.
However, my tax situation is rather complicated due to my web business, investment capital gains & losses, and itemized deductions. As such, I wasn’t able to enjoy the Free edition for long before TurboTax recommended that I upgrade to the Basic Edition ($14.95), then to the Deluxe Edition ($29.95), and finally to the Premiere Edition ($49.95). The software even suggested that I upgrade to the Business Edition ($74.95), which I declined. Fortunately, I am not obligate to pay for any of these upgrades, or the State software that costs additional $34.95 until I print out my tax returns or file them online through efile.
Although I think the software is excellent and I absolutely love the online support forums, I will most likely end up buying either TurboTax Premier Federal + State + eFile 2008 ($64.99) or H&R Block TaxCut 2008 Premium Federal + State + e-file ($43.99) from Amazon.com. This is mainly due to the higher fees and one tax return per user account limitation.
I really can’t figure out why the online version is more expensive than the desktop version.
Here’s a comparison chart of different editions of the TurboTax Online tax preparation software:
Since TurboTax Online software is free to try, I highly recommend that you give it a test drive and see if you like it. If it doesn’t work well for you, don’t print or efile your taxes and you won’t have to pay. If the software meets your needs, just finish up your tax returns with them.
In case you are curious about my situation, it looks like I’ll have to open a SEP IRA to avoid owing the IRS money, because we didn’t have enough federal income tax withheld. Although I could pay the few hundred dollars, I want to keep my self employment safe harbor and avoid paying quarterly estimated taxes. Luckily, my state and local income tax refund will help partially fund the SEP IRA.