I was initially hesitant about filing my family's taxes on my own, but my cheapskate side won out and I purchased a $50 copy of TurboTax Deluxe rather than paying our tax preparation specialist $200. After gathering all of our W-2 forms, charitable donation receipts, bank statements, and other paperwork, I was ready to sit down and get started. Our taxes are not particularly complicated, so I had high hopes.We needed software that would handle our W-2s, charitable donations, and mortgage information, so the Deluxe edition was sufficient. There are additional editions for business owners, independent contractors, and those with more complicated tax returns due to business ownership, rental properties, etc.
Installation of the software was easy, if a little time-consuming. (It took about 20 minutes to get everything up and running.) TurboTax completely walks you through the process of installing the software on your computer. I'd recommend installing it on a computer that you're likely to have again next year, because the program can access previous year's tax records if you use TurboTax year after year. (This is very appealing to me. I love the idea of doing all the real "work" just once, and then simply updating numbers each year. For instance, your names, addresses, etc are all stored and filled in automatically. Other information, such as your employer's EIN can also be stored, saving you from having to dig it out year after year.)
Actually completing our taxes was a breeze! I simply answered each question that TurboTax asked, and the software did the rest. There is a nice review of each section, and you can correct any errors or missing information at any time. You don't have to complete your taxes in one sitting, which is handy if you realize you are missing some paperwork. There is a final review section at the end, too, which checks for errors or inconsistencies. You receive email confirmation when your taxes are filed, as well as when they are accepted by the government. This is a nice feature in case you ever need to prove that you filed by a certain date. I also like that there are several versions of the software available, ranging from the simple taxes my family files, to more complicated editions for various types of business situations. It's nice to know that should our tax situation ever change, I can still use TurboTax to file.
The only reason TurboTax is not getting a perfect 5 star rating is the price. I've considered purchasing the TurboTax software for several years, and it seems that the price climbs quite dramatically each year. This is troubling because the initial investment is already a nice chunk of change, but knowing that next year's edition will be even more expensive is less than thrilling. You also need to make sure that your edition of TurboTax includes the federal and state filing. If only federal is included, and your state requires you to file a tax return, you could end up paying an additional fee to have the return sent to your state. Just read the package carefully so you're sure of what you are purchasing.
Overall, using TurboTax was a great experience, and I'm glad I now have the option of completing my taxes by myself, and having confidence that it was done correctly.