TurboTax Review for Desktop and TurboTax Online

Tax season is rarely a fun time. None of us likes to fill out our returns and file them. However, it doesn’t have to be too hard, either. What you really need is help filing your taxes. But you don’t have to go to an accountant to get it done. If you have

If you have TurboTax, you can do your taxes on your own, for a relatively small cost. Here’s what you need to know:

Features of TurboTax

TurboTax offers a number of helpful features. You start off by answering a few simple questions and entering basic information. Once you get underway, the answers to your questions indicate which forms you will need to fill in. TurboTax helps you fill in these forms quickly and easily. If you check that you have made RRSP contributions, TurboTax automatically finds the appropriate form for you to fill out. The same is true if you have investment income and business income.

One of the great features of TurboTax is that you have the ability to get more information and help if you need it. If you aren’t sure about something (such as a spousal contribution), a box pops up providing you with more information about what qualifies. It’s a very helpful feature that educates as well as helps you fill out your tax forms.

If you have further questions and need clarifications, you can contact TurboTax via live chat, email, or phone. This makes it easy to solve problems that you can’t figure out on your own. It’s also helpful that you can see your progress through the tax return and know exactly how far toward completion you are.

Another helpful feature of TurboTax is the ability to bookmark certain items. You can “flag” an item to return to later. You don’t have to leave your return to look for what’s missing, or try to find your place later. It’s a great way to keep the momentum going and then find what you need and fill it in when you have time.

You can also benefit from the ease with which you can import last year’s information into this year’s forms. This reduces the amount of time it takes to prepare your tax return each year, as long as you keep using TurboTax.

TurboTax is also NETFILE certified, so you can file your return electronically. TurboTax comes with a satisfaction guarantee, so you can be sure that you get accurate results and the refund that is coming to you.

How Much Does TurboTax Cost?

There are two options with TurboTax. You can do a web-based TurboTax Online version (you can save your progress and come back to it later), or you can download the software or order the CD to install. The web-based options are a little less expensive than the software version.

You can start the process for free, and upgrade anytime if you need to. There is a completely free version of TurboTax that you can do online. However, it is extremely basic, and is ideal for those who don’t have much in the way of needed forms or complexity of situation. Plus, it doesn’t come with much support. On the plus side, though, it’s possible to use the Free version on your phone or tablet, while other versions are best used on a desktop or laptop.

There are more options with the software version of TurboTax, even though they cost more:

  • Basic: Simple returns that consist mainly of T4s and donations. This is only available as a download or CD. The cost is $14.99.
  • Standard: For couples and families with more deductions, this is one of the most popular versions of TurboTax. You can get this for $19.99 online, or $34.99 for download or CD. You can enter investments in this version, but you don’t receive extra support, so it can be a hassle.
  • Premier: Add in investment and rental income support with this version. You will pay $34.99 for the online return, or $69.99 when you get it via download or CD.
  • Home & Business: Self-employment income on top of everything else, which can be helpful if you are interested in reporting your side gig or full-fledged business. The online version costs $49.99, while the download or CD costs $109.99.
  • TurboTax 20: This software is great for the all-out business owner. If you will file up to 20 returns, this can be a cost-efficient way to take care of your taxes, costing $129.99. It’s only available as a download or CD.

If you only have one return, and it doesn’t get too complicated, it makes sense to use the web-based versions of TurboTax. It’s important to note that the online prices are per return. That means that if you have multiple returns to file, you are better off getting the download, since those versions allow you to file between four and 20 returns, depending on the version you get.

TurboTax Review Bottom Line

TurboTax is a great option for many Canadian filers. It is priced reasonably, and it makes figuring your taxes fairly simple. The interview questions can get a little tedious for old hands at preparing their taxes, and if your taxes are really complex you might consider hiring an accountant or other tax professional for help. But, for the majority of Canadians, TurboTax will work well.

Written by Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the consumer and credit expert at Retire Happy, sharing his knowledge on the best ways to get the most for your money. Whether it's credit cards, banking products, or travel tips, Tom shares his insight as a financial analyst and as the writer behind the award-winning MapleMoney.

8 Responses to TurboTax Review for Desktop and TurboTax Online

  1. I guess it must be difficult striking a balance between making money off of your blog (advertising) and saving the readers of your blog some money.

    As a commenter I also feel I have an obligation to point out that there is perfectly good free software out there that will do an equally good job of their taxes.

    It’s called “Studio Tax” Someone pointed it out to me on a blog 3 years ago and I feel that I should pay it forward to other people to save them some money whenever I can.

    Isn’t that the the true goal of finance blogs?

    • I agree Paul, StudioTax is decent and free! It may even have been my StudioTax review that you read since I’ve written about it a couple times before on MapleMoney.

      While I think StudioTax is a great alternative (especially if your tax situation is simple), I use TurboTax myself and recommend it for the extra help it provides, both in the software and via their support staff.

      Catching a deduction last year that I had almost missed was worth much more to me than the $40 that the Home & Business Online version cost.

  2. I have done my own taxes for the past 3 years and turbotax was a blessing. The fact that I could efile for free and even keep my financial records online really helped me out! There are other services that offer the same service online, I just happen to prefer this one.

  3. You need to downgrade your rating for Turbotax by about 5 points. At least for the new Mac version.I would give it a 0 out of 5. I spent 5 1/2 hours filling out all my information, but I wasn’t quite done. I had used turbotax for Windows before and had saved and returned to it multiple times. When I returned to it this time, even though I got a pop-up window saying that my session had been saved after I clicked the ‘save return’ button, there was no information except my name. I spent time on ‘chat’ and also called the customer service, both to no avail. I have to start all over. This is a nightmare for me as I don’t have many hours to spare in my life. Also I hope you like supporting the Indian economy because their customer service department is in India and there is absolutely no contact information for anyone in Canada with this company!

  4. I’ve used the Inuit products since Quick Tax 1997 and for a period of time I managed to finish my car allowance and annual income with no problems. Last year I had a lot of headecks with Canada Revenue about Disability Tax Application a big joke from Trudeau Government and the Inuit 2016 fail shamefully to calculate taxes on my pension and shows me a refund of about $3000. After a complain to CR I end up with a payment of $2100 back to Canada Revenue. Very rude support at CR is not a secret English is not my first language and final word from CR was Disability Tax is given to people with 100% disability you can walk with a prosthetic device even your nerve is damaged forever ?????!!!! This year I think to buy a H and R online software.

  5. I’ve been using QuickTax / TurboTax for over 20 years now. Every few years I get ticked off about some problem with Quicktax/TurboTax An try something different. I think I’ve tried most of them at one time or another(QuickTax, TurboTax, Ufile, Grifftax, Taxwiz, … and they all have their own problems. I think turbo is probably the best of the worst, so I keep coming back. Sometimes I think I would prefer the old days where you could get all the tax forms in an Excell spreadsheet and fill it out there.

    Examples of problems I have with TurboTax the year includes:

    – No indication of where to get “Net Income” for dependents (had to got to the forms and figure it out there.

    – I have two children who were both disabled last year, but one is not considered disabled this year. I don’t know where Turbo tax got this information (form last years import? from downloaded CRA forms?) but it set the flag on one of the worksheet forms which would not clear when un-ticking the entry in the “Dependant credits”. I took a half hour with Turbo Tax tech support to solve this problem (Thank you Turbo tax for having resonable tech support).

    – This one is more of a complaint a problem (I have suggested this to TurboTax a few times over the years). It would make life much easier if you print out the summaries of the the T-slips (t2,t5,t4, t5013, etc) so you could review them rather than having to check them in the entry tables. This is especially true when you are splitting slips husband/wife.

    – again a complaint rather than a problem. A lot of the lines on the tax forms do not allow you to access the information that created them. They seem to be created on hidden worksheet you cannot access.

    – again another feature request. Turbo tax allows splitting of t3/t4 between husband/wife, but not capital gains t5008, T5013, t1135, etc

  6. Tom
    The 2018 download version of TurboTax Standard has a known corruption issue of user files. Their help desk commented to me the 2nd time that my files corrupted that “they sure are getting a lot of calls about this”. Yet they offer no fix – the reason given is that a Windows update corrupts the files. The problem is that the 2nd time this occurred there hadn’t been an update for 8 days. They don’t even try – just rolled over & refunded my money. I’ve been using this product for 10+ years & am extremely disappointed in the ineptitude of this corporation in handling this issue.

  7. Tom,
    I had started entering data into the 2018 tax year premier edition, desktop not online. I had heard there were data corruption problems with updates so opened it up and accepted the updates. The existing file that i had accessed more than once is now missing. Their support blames it on me not saving the file, even though I assured them I had accessed the file more than once previously.

Leave a reply