TurboTax consistently offers a top-of-the-line tax preparation software experience, and for tax year 2018 it once again exceeds expectations.
On top of its signature easy-to-use interface and robust tax help, TurboTax has enhanced the software with some basic machine learning and the option to have your tax reviewed by a CPA. Unfortunately, for many users the robust features come at too high of a price to make the software worthwhile, although this year does find increased services for low-income filers who will use its free services.
Should you use TurboTax to file taxes in 2019? We will help you decide.
If you're shopping around for TurboTax, once again Amazon has special pricing for both PC and Mac discs and download that's the best we've seen for TurboTax 2018. Check out TurboTax on Amazon here.
- Easy To Use, Great Import Options
- Higher Price Points Compared To Other Options
- Free Filing Limited With Student Loans and Other Forms, Consider H&R Block Instead
TurboTax 2018-2019 Navigation
By far the most impressive new feature in last year’s TurboTax was the enhanced guided navigation system, which returns for this year. People who have used TurboTax in the past will find that all of their employment, personal, and tax credit information is saved in the software.
TurboTax will only ask a few questions to see if you need to add or get rid of certain information. This helpful bit of machine learning converts an interview process that can take up to 30-40 minutes into a quick five-minute exercise.
New users will still walk through a series of easy-to-understand questions, but even they can cut down on the interview time by selecting the relevant options at the beginning.
Anyone who prefers self-guided navigation will be excited to learn that TurboTax has reorganized the software to make it easier to navigate than ever. Users can jump from section to section using the menu at the top of the screen, but TurboTax also makes it easy to re-enter the guided mode if you get lost. You can also bookmark/flag a page to go back to later if you don’t have enough info for it yet.
I was also impressed that the search option gave detailed instructions on how to input certain information. In fact, in many cases, TurboTax offered direct links to the part of the software that I needed to use. When you’ve missed inputting information, the software will also direct you back to where it goes, like in this screenshot when I didn’t enter health insurance information:
TurboTax Ease Of Use
Once again, TurboTax is well ahead of the curve when it comes to ease of use. The navigation keeps most users from becoming confused, and they have built in definitions to help clarify murky sections of the tax code. TurboTax makes their software easy to use by keeping the language at an eighth-grade level.
However, the features that I appreciate most about TurboTax are the easy import options. You can import W-2 forms using a photo application, and TurboTax connects with a variety of banks and investment institutions to import your 1099-INT and 1099-DIV forms.
Self-employed people or landlords who use QuickBooks to run their business will appreciate the ease with which they can import income and expenses for their business.
TurboTax Knowledge Base
TurboTax’s knowledge articles are very focused on how to enter information in the software system. These are important and well-written articles, but they lack some of the depth that other top software companies provide.
However, TurboTax has an impressive community of users who answer some surprisingly complex questions. If you ever Google a tax question, TurboTax's community likely comes up as a top answer.
TurboTax has also added a Tax Reform Center with a variety of helpful and well-written articles covering the most common aspects of the tax reform bill that is going into effect for the 2018 tax year, such as changes to the standard deduction, home mortgage and state/local tax deductions, tax rates and brackets, family issues, changes for self-employed people, and more.
One feature that has historically separated TurboTax from the pack is the unprecedented access to tax and product advice for all paying customers.
Unfortunately, TurboTax no longer offers live advice to all its customers. TurboTax allows all users to submit questions to the TurboTax forums, but you have to pay extra to get one-on-one product help from a TurboTax specialist.
To receive this kind of help you need to pay $80 extra (on top of whatever product you are already purchasing) for TurboTaxLive. If you do pay for this service, you’ll be able to speak to a tax specialist onscreen through video interface, which I’ll admit is a pretty cool upgrade over talking to someone on the phone!
TurboTax 2018-2019 Plans And Pricing
TurboTax has mostly maintained their pricing plan from last year which includes the Free (formerly AbsoluteZero) option for people with only a 1040EZ/1040A submission (standard deduction and W2 income only, no 1099/self-employed income). The Free option is significantly enhanced for tax year 2018 since it now searches for Earned Income Credit (EIC) and child tax credits (but it's still missing other key forms like Student Loan Interest that H&R Block offers for free).
Everyone else will need to pay for both Federal and State filing; State filing now costs an additional $3 per state compared to 2017 (bringing it up to $39.99), not a big increase. It’s also important to note that if you purchase TurboTaxLive for $80 extra (federal and state), a CPA or EA (tax preparer) will manually review your tax return before you submit it - so while it's a high price, that could be a great value depending on your situation.
It's also important to note that, while we try to ensure these prices are accurate, they are subject to change throughout the season. Let us know if you're seeing any differences in pricing.
Once again Amazon has special pricing for both PC and Mac discs and download that's the best we've seen for TurboTax 2018. Check out TurboTax on Amazon here.
Simple Tax Returns
Maximizing Tax Deductions & Credits
Investors & Rental Property Owners
Business Owners, Side Hustlers, Contractors
Note: TurboTaxLive is sold as an add-on of roughly $80 per return. Sign up for TurboTaxLive here.
In addition to the TurboTaxLive upgrade, users can also upgrade to a “MaxDefend” for an additional $59.99 (price unchanged from 2017). With MaxDefend, you’ll get audit assistance from a tax specialist if you get audited.
While this is a valuable protection if you have very complicated taxes, it’s an expensive upgrade. If you’re considering MaxDefend, you may want to look into hiring an accountant instead.
Who Should Use TurboTax 2018-2019?
This year, I think TurboTax Premier offers great value for landlords and dividend investors. Likewise, self-employed people who use QuickBooks will love the easy integration.
I would recommend not upgrading to TurboTaxLive unless you find something exceptionally complicated as you’re completing your return. It’s a great option to have in your back pocket, but I doubt it’s worth the extra $80 because TurboTax is already a very easy to use software.
People who qualify for the Free (formerly AbsoluteZero) pricing should definitely take advantage of the low cost for an excellent software product. The Free product is much better for tax year 2018, since it now looks for the Earned Income Credit and the child tax credits, but it still doesn’t search for all available deductions, including the student loan interest deduction.
You may be better served by using H&R Block 2018 Free Online Tax Filing for this instead. However, we still think it's one of the best truly free tax software currently available, and a big upgrade for qualified users over what was available in tax year 2017.
TurboTax 2018-2019 Review
TurboTax 2018-2019 is one of the best options for most filers in terms of features and ease of use.