The US income tax deadline of April 15 is a nightmare for many Americans who aren't exactly schooled on the best tax practices and strategies that allow them to stay on the right side of the law but still take advantage of savings.
Many people give up and hire accountants to prepare their returns, when they could really DIY-file their own taxes fairly easily with TurboTax.
For the past 30 years, TurboTax has been the go-to trusted resource for many people, and it's grown into a household name. If you've never tried it, it could be intimidating or difficult to know if it's ideal for your personal tax picture. Allow our guide — Lisa Greene-Lewis, a CPA and tax expert for TurboTax — to explain the benefits, along with helpful tips.
Ever taken one of those addicting Buzzfeed quizzes to figure out what type of cheese you are? Or what your preference in travel says about your career? While those are silly, TurboTax asks simple questions that get to the heart of your financial and tax picture. As an online tax preparation software, it will ask questions like "Are you married?" and "Do you have kids?" along with the need-to-know-info about your salary and charitable donations, Greene-Lewis says. The software takes all of your responses and calculates on the backend, giving you the tax deductions and credits you're eligible for.
As you can imagine, you'll be perplexed during some of this process. Luckily, TurboTax anticipates that, and offers the ability to have a one-way video chat with a CPA or an enrolled agent with an average of 15 years of experience. "You'll be coached along the way as you do your taxes and get the help you need, when you need it," Greene-Lewis says.
Last year alone, 30 million tax returns were processed through TurboTax.
What services does TurboTax offer?
Depending on how you classify yourself and how complicated your taxes may be, you can choose from a variety of TurboTax products, including the free edition, the deluxe, the premier and the self-employed. One of those services is TurboTax Live, which makes it even easier to file and move forward with the year. Recently, the company started offering year-round and unlimited advice, since Greene-Lewis explains that considering your taxes is important not only in April, but throughout every lap around the sun. "Taxpayers can also access a TurboTax Live expert any time during business hours when they need advice or have a question," she says. With the Offline Expert Review, you can also ask questions via email, if you're not in a rush.
Another cool perk of being a TurboTax customer is the new Tax Reform Guidance, since laws change frequently and can raise more questions than answers. Greene-Lewis says this service allows taxpayers to know up front if they would benefit from claiming the standard deduction or itemized deductions, with easy-to-understand explanations and year-over-year comparisons. This allows everyone to see how their tax outcomes have changed under the new law.
These are just a sampling of the many services available through TurboTax, and many others are available, dependent on your needs and requirements.
What are the benefits of TurboTax?
Apart from the many bells and whistles this trusted company offers, one of the major perks of TurboTax is flexibility. It's often considered the most streamlined tax-filing experience for taxpayers who want to file their own returns. Because it's perfected the algorithm over decades, you can trust the company's metrics and systems to keep your info and your banking protected. "TurboTax uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to guide you through a personalized filing experience to help give you your biggest refund," Greene-Lewis says.
Another benefit is the robust Tax Reform Hub, which has a wealth of helpful information and smart tools, including the Tax Reform Calculator that uses aggregated anonymized tax data to show taxpayers tax situations similar to their own. The company also offers a handful of other freebies, including:
- Standard vs. Itemized Deduction tool: Estimates your deductions based on input and tells you if you should claim the standard vs. itemized.
- TurboTax TaxCaster: Estimates your tax refund or how much you'll owe.
- W-4 Withholding Calculator: See how many withholding allowances you should take to boost your tax refund.
Bottom line? If you feel ready to take your taxes into your own hands — and perhaps don't need an accountant — consider TurboTax as a valuable resource. Taxes may be painful, but they don't have to be unbearable when you're armed with the most important weapon of all: information. TurboTax does a great job of providing just that, 24/7, 365 days a year.