Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software

Expensive state fees By Jay Garmon TurboTax is the headline star in the tax preparation software world, but is its reputation a product of great performance, or simply Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software marketing?

We break it down in this review. First, a word about my tax return, which I will be using to test-run TurboTax and a few other tax preparation Web apps. InI received unemployment pay, did freelance work, started a new job for an out-of-state employer, paid down a student loan, had a child in daycare, bought one house and sold another, and maintained a home office as a primary workplace. In short, mine is not a simple tax profile, and if these tax apps can handle what I throw at them without making me want to tear my eyeballs out, they should be able to stand up to the typical taxpayer pretty easily.

Since TurboTax is made by Intuit — the same outfit that brings you the excellent but upsell-ridden Quicken — it should come as no surprise that TurboTax has more than a few screens that prompt you to buy additional services or products.

From there, TurboTax automatically imported my return from its records, which at this point largely consisted of drawing in the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of me, my wife, and my daughter.

New users would simply have entered this information manually. This is when the return began. It uses the same Interview metaphor as its competitors, but with two key areas of excellence. In most cases, you can choose from a very obvious checklist of options, and then TurboTax unlocks the appropriate questionnaire and meticulously walks you through it.

You can follow the path that TurboTax lays out for you by selecting the Guide Me option at the beginning of every section — and review your Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software by using the Back and Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software buttons at the bottom of every screen — or you can skip around to your satisfaction by selecting the Explore option.

Data entry, where required, is simple and straightforward. Form fields follow the same order and labeling conventions as those found on your physical tax documents. Quicken users will recognize the income data entry Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software. ItsDeductible users will find the charitable donation interface — the best I found in any tax product — surprisingly robust and user-friendly. The downside of this hand-holding? TurboTax takes a bit longer to create a return, as all the checking and rechecking eat time and can start to feel repetitive towards the end of the process.

Both TaxAct and Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software offered to import my employer W-2s from our online payroll service, but only TurboTax got the functionality to work. TurboTax was also the only product to handle my two-home-offices-in-the-same-year Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software with anything approaching ease.

It still took a bit of finagling to communicate which set of utilities and mortgage interests applied to which home office, but TurboTax at least made it possible to enter these figures explicitly.

The competitors seemed stymied by the fact that I could even have two home offices in the same year. The price of all that Quicken integration is that you are reminded over and over how much easier your return would be if you simply used Quicken to track finances and directly import data. I counted at least half a dozen Quicken or related upsells, and when it was time to discuss filing my return, a Quicken-branded Visa gift card was one of the payment options.

There were also upsells for a review of your return by a tax professional, for upgrades to more expensive versions of TurboTax, and for retaining the services of an audit counselor should the IRS decide to ream you. All of these appeared before my return received its audit risk assessment, and before TurboTax let it be known that if I owed any additional taxes or penalties, the company would pay them.

Essentially, Intuit proudly stands behind their tax prep product, but before they tell you that, they want you to know you can pay them to be extra sure. On the flipside, TurboTax offers some robust and simple direct deposit and direct debit options to get your return ultra-fast and ultra-easy. This level of polish was evident throughout the product, but it was especially nice to see it applied to getting me paid. If I could describe TurboTax in one word, it would be polished. This is clearly a product that has been through some user testing, and all the features work well and stay out of your way.

While the hour and 45 minutes I spent filing my return was slightly longer than my filing times in TaxCut or TaxAct, much of that was attributable to the extra, helpful screens that TurboTax surfaced to help me with my complex deductions. Bottom line: The extra money TurboTax found for me more than made up Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software its Price of TurboTax 2009 Deluxe Software cost.

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