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Customer Review

408 of 426 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unreilable product, shady pricing structure., December 30, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
--NOTE: Make sure to read my latest update at the bottom of the review before purchasing--
I've been using Turbo Tax for at least 10 years now. I used TaxCut one year because it was a little cheaper. I got audited that year (TaxCut didn't check an appropriate box, so I sent a letter to the IRS explaining that, and they dropped the audit, but it was still a major pain). It is also important to note that if you have a complicated tax year, you may be better off doing the taxes yourself or paying someone to do it. Two years ago, there was a bug where you couldn't take both the earned income credit and one of the college education credits- after speaking with customer service, and then getting put in contact with one of their engineers who barley spoke English, I realized that you really can't trust any kind of tax software for unusual or complex tax situations. I sent them screenshots, and detailed explanations of how to recreate the bug, and they still claimed everything was fine (even though entering the exact same information into different tax preparation software resulted in a refund that was thousands of dollars more). The next year, the bug was fixed, so I guess they finally found it. I'm guessing some people didn't notice and lost a lot of money over that bug though. Again, don't trust any software for anything that seems unusual or complex.

If you had a basic year, then TurboTax is great. The interface continues to get better every year- they were ahead of their competitors for a long while, their competitors have caught up some, but TurboTax still has the best interface. There are currently some annoying things where it says "click here to see more details" about a particular tax item, and it brings you to an error message on their website. I'm hoping they will get this fixed as we get into the start of tax season for 2012. Overall, this software is great, and makes it soooo easy to complete your taxes in a basic tax year.

I do find their pricing strategy to be a little annoying though, they include a federal e-file, but expect you to pay an extra $20 for every state e-file. If the product is called Federal+State, I would expect it to include e-files for both. This is nothing more than a money grab by Intuit, and I never fall for it- I always just mail in my state return. Takes a few weeks longer to get my money back, but for $20, its well worth the wait. Their pricing on their website is even more shady, they charge $20 for the "deluxe" version (which you would assume to be the same as the deluxe version on Amazon), but then halfway through they drop the bomb that its going to be another $60 for state+efile. Long story short, the pricing is never what it seems on Intuit products. If you have a simple tax year, its still cheaper than hiring a tax guy though.

In the end, this is great software for most people. Just don't use it in complex situations, and make sure you understand the actual cost of the product before you buy anything (their website may seem cheaper than Amazon, but that does not include state or efiling). This is Intuit's money making season, and they clearly will do whatever they can to grab some extra cash.

--Update 2/1/13--
Since tax season is now upon us, just wanted to post a quick update to mention that the annoyances/broken links I mentioned above have been fixed. Everything that says "click here for more information on this topic" now actually brings you to information about that topic. As with every year, their explanations of topics are very easy to understand, making it easy to determine what you can/can't count for a specific subject.

As for the rest of my review, there has been a decent conversation going on in the comments, but everything I say still stands. It doesn't cost Intuit anything (except a little bandwith) to e-file you're state return, so the fact that they try to charge you $20 on top of the product you already purchased is definitely ridiculous. I do want to reinfornce that, aside from my pricing complaints, I do believe that TurboTax is the best available tax software, and as long as you are willing to mail your state return (rather than e-file), then I believe Amazon is likely the best deal you'll find for it.

--Update 2/19/13--
A user in the comments just pointed out that if you need to do taxes for a second state, Turbo Tax charges you an additional $40 to install a second state. That is more than the product originally costs, and almost makes me want to lower my review down to two stars. I can understand charging a little something extra for a second state, but $40 is a total rip off. That means if you had two states and wanted to e-file them both, you'd be looking at paying $80 in extra fees on top of what you paid on Amazon. Intuit needs to realize that they are going to drive away customers if they continue to nickle and dime them every single year!

--Update 3/17/13--
My original review about TurboTax being reliable for 'basic' tax returns may no longer be true. Since I filed my returns, I've received TWO letters from them regarding two different mistakes they made on my return, and extra steps that I needed to follow to correct their mistakes. One was in regards to my Minnesota state return, no matter which political party you elected to contribute to, when you submitted your tax return, it was always giving the money to a specific political party. My guess is that this was added by a rogue programmer, but it is still incredible that they have so little QA testing that this could slip through. In my opinion, someone should be in jail for that scam. The other letter was in regards to an incorrect calculation if you met like 3 specific criteria. Again, its pretty crazy that these things don't get discovered until mid-March when many many people have already submitted their returns. I no longer have much faith in TurboTax for even a basic tax return, and am considering just doing taxes myself manually next year. Even I can add correctly, which is apparently too hard for TurboTax. Lowering my review from three to two stars.
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 11, 2013 4:20:29 AM PST
Annonymous says:
Helpful comments. Thank you. It would be helpful and appreciated if you could comment on which tax year had the earned income credit and college education credit issues.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 1:08:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 12, 2013 1:14:38 PM PST
Robert says:
It's my understanding the e-file fees come from the state itself, which Turbo-Tax obviously covers through the payment. HR Block, Tax Slayer, etc, all charge this fee.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 7:07:26 PM PST
Floyd says:
Robert is correct. The extra cash you have to fork over is charged by the state (in my case it's California). I know they were initially charging for Federal E-File as well, which is free. They changed it though to the first three being free. Maybe they're all free now, I'm not sure as I use it for three filings. I just mail the state as well.

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 2:37:52 AM PST
I've been using Turbo Tax for 10 years too. I agree with ComputerDude1032 and would add that it's also annoying to see an early bird special after I've just purchased the product for $20 more. It adds to the frustration to click on the "contact us" link and find there is no way to send an email. Otherwise, I have not been unhappy with TT.

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 10:07:15 AM PST
Sorry for the delay in replying to people, I was out of town...

@Annonynous - Thanks! The year where I had trouble with the EIC and education credits was 2010. It was a pretty obscure bug and things had to line up just right, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one who got messed over.

@Robert/Floyd- Whether or not this is the case, my opinion does not change. If Intuit has to pay the state money to submit an e-file to them, then I'd prefer to see them build this cost into the product, not sell it as an upcharge after the fact. Of course this would make them more expensive up front than the competition, but they could advertise their fair pricing structure and do just fine I'm sure... Also, this IRS document would seem to indicate that for most states, the state e-file goes through right with the federal e-file, which would mean any fee that Intuit charges here is just pure profit:

@Wag56 - Yep, you're right. The prices on TurboTax fluctuate a LOT. Makes it even harder to know when you're getting a good deal or not. And I just noticed that- you're three options for getting help this year are calling them, live chatting with them, or posting on their forums. It seems like more and more companies are ditching email support in favor of chat support. I'm not sure why, as I never really have a good experience with chat support, but I guess we just get to take what Intuit gives us...

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 12:31:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 6, 2013 12:09:04 PM PST
I'm not at all sure that California or any other state has a fee to commercial tax preparation software providers for e-file privileges. E-filing is so cost effective for the states that they strongly encourge e-filing, who like the IRS, nearly beg everyone to e-file. I know that both the IRS and various states work with H&R Block to ensure that as many returns are e-filed as possible, and certainly that must extend to other commercial tax preparation services and software providers.

The ultimate goal of the IRS and State of California FTB is to have 100% e-filing, no more paper returns. I keep hearing that there will soon be a time when they will no longer accept paper returns, but I've heard that story for the past five years and nothing has changed. The only way they can reach this goal is with complimentary e-filing.

I have prepared taxes for almost thirty years, the last 15 for the IRS TaxAid & AARP programs and have attended many meetings with the California FTB representatives as we smooth out each years program. Never has any mention been made that any entity was charged a fee to e-file a State of California return. Quite the opposite, in fact. I do know in the case of the AARP Tax-Aide program, incentives are given to promote e-filing, and the service to the taxpayers is completely free. I will look at the FTB budget and see if there is any income from third party software providers, but with so many incentives to e-file coming from California, it would be a big surprise to find out there has ever been a fee to e-file.

The IRS was the first taxing agency to have an e-filing program. This service has always been free to individuals, software providers, and paid tax preparers.

The California Franchise Tax Board saves millions of dollars annually from e-filing. You can imagine how much the IRS saves. I don't think Calif. would want to jeopardize the e-file program by charging for the service when it is so cost effective to have the returns electronically filed.

Easiest of course, for TurboTax California taxpayers, is just to mail the printed return to Sacramento. The state return is scanned and processed. Whether you e-file or mail your state return does not have any effect on the chances of audit. The returns all end up in the same barrel for processing. You can log into the Tax Board website to confirm that your return was received and your refund processed. Quite simple.

Need the refund a bit faster, just log onto the California Franchise Tax Board site and e-file directly at no-cost. You will just transfer the numbers from your TurboTax federal return to the website for your state e-file. You have your state TurboTax copy to confirm the figures are accurate.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2013 6:25:12 AM PST
Thanks for the comment, HighSierra. I was pretty sure that the states didn't charge any fee for an e-file, but wasn't sure enough to rebuke the other comments. Glad you were able to clear this up for us :)

Posted on Jan 22, 2013 10:46:31 AM PST
LB says:
Thanks for the great review and breakdown of their pricing scheme. I was confused about the difference between the Deluxe that Amazon offers and the one TurboTax offered. Many thanks for the clarification!! :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2013 3:33:04 PM PST
It is very confusing- glad I was able to make things a little more clear for you!!

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 6:53:15 AM PST
SM says:
You should complain because the description says "Includes one TurboTax State product download"
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