How to Find the Right TurboTax for 2016 and Avoid Tax Errors

I have used TurboTax for over 15 years for my business and my personal taxes, so I can tell you about its benefits and what version you need.
TurboTax Income Tax Preparation Software
TurboTax Income Tax Preparation Software | Source

Are you comfortable doing your own taxes? I've used TurboTax for over 15 years, both for my business and myself. I've come to know all their products and I can guide you with what you need.

One of the most important things I've discovered when I first started using TurboTax is that I became much more aware of my finances and where the money was going.

For many years I had an accountant do my taxes and I was left in the dark about things I could have been improving financially. It wasn't until my accountant retired and I started using TurboTax that I discovered important details about my financial situation.

A friend of mine told me to try TurboTax. Once I used it I was hooked, and I never looked back.


TurboTax Doesn't Miss a Thing


I found that TurboTax guides me, asking for the required information so that I end up filing my taxes with the correct information. And it’s done in a way that is legally most beneficial to me.

Good accounting software keeps track of everything and carries the necessary data forward from one year to the next. TurboTax does this and you don't even need to keep track of past years information. And while you're preparing your taxes, it will remind you if you forget anything.

Real Estate: It will ask you if you have a home so it knows to take deductions on your real estate property tax and mortgage interest. And it will remember to ask for this each year, so it gets easier as time goes on.

Inheritance: It will ask if someone died so it files inheritance income properly. It knows when this is tax-free and will give you the most advantage.

Deductions: It even gives you the proper deductions for sales tax you spent throughout the year. There’s a quick easy way to calculate this even if you didn’t keep records. TurboTax helps with that.

Investing: If you invest in the stock market, it keeps track of your capital gains and losses. It even carries it all forward year to year so you never miss anything.

Health Care Compliance: Ever since the 2014 tax year, all the forms for the Affordable Care Act have been included to help you properly file your Obamacare entitlements.


Free eFile for Faster Refunds

All versions include free eFile so you get your refund faster. And no worry about getting lost in the mail.

TurboTax lets you eFile your income tax with the IRS to get faster refunds.
TurboTax lets you eFile your income tax with the IRS to get faster refunds. | Source


Up to five returns can be eFiled for the cost of your TurboTax. That's another reason to buy the software version and not use the online version. You may end up doing the taxes for your other family member too.

One other thing about comparing the online preparation to using the installed software...

The online version only lets you do one return for the cost of using it. But the software versions let you do as many taxes as you want on your own computer. And if you like to file online too, remember that you can do up to five eFiles. So you can help other members of your family or close friends.

All the versions create all the IRS forms for you and they print on your computer's printer so you can save a copy for yourself. But you can also save it as a PDF file on your hard drive.


Other Benefits of TurboTax


Besides just properly filling out your tax forms, TurboTax provides many additional benefits, such as these:

  • TurboTax is an accounting software package that keeps track of all your finances from one year to the next.

  • The Premier (and higher) TurboTax version includes a free "Ask the Tax Expert" service.

  • You can increase your refund by taking all or part of it on an Amazon.com gift card (up to $1,000) and TurboTax will add 5% to 10% to the total.

  • All your information is carried forward year to year. This improves the accuracy of each year's filing. It even reminds you about things that occurred in prior years that you might have forgotten to include. My accountant never reminded me when I left something out.

  • Enroll America and Intuit TurboTax have teamed up to help Americans get information about how the Affordable Care Act will affect their taxes. [1]


TurboTax has the Right Version for Each Situation


There are several different versions, each for a specific situation. Each version is available online as well as software that you install on your own computer.

The software version can be bought on CD or instantly downloaded from Amazon.

I personally like having it installed on my own computer rather than keeping my data on Intuit’s online server. Intuit is the maker of TurboTax.

The online versions cost less, but if you live in a State that also has taxes, then you have to pay more to prepare the State tax return. And it ends up costing more than the software version.

All software versions include the State return for your home State except the basic version and the business version. But it can be added on with an additional purchased.


Compare TurboTax For Individuals


Below is a complete review of the various versions to help you choose the right one. You can also download right now and start doing your own taxes when you buy from Amazon.

I used to buy directly from Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, but I discovered that Amazon has lowest prices. I compare every year and I always end up ordering from Amazon.

I even get offers from my bank every year to buy TurboTax at a discount, but that is a discount off the retail price and it still ends up being higher than Amazon's prices.


TurboTax Basic

TurboTax Basic 2016 Tax Software Federal + Fed Efile PC/MAC Disc
TurboTax Basic 2016 Tax Software Federal + Fed Efile PC/MAC Disc

The Basic version is for individuals who just have a salary and interest income from savings. If you have any investments, then you need one of the others that I discuss below.

TurboTax Basic does not include State preparation, so if you live in a State that has income tax you need to buy the State addition. Another option is to use TurboTax Deluxe instead.

TurboTax Basic can be downloaded or purchased on a CD for both PC and Mac computers.

 


When you go to Amazon, you'll see the option to select Turbotax for immediate download for either a PC or a Mac. If you prefer getting it on a CD, you can select the option to have that mailed to you. I personally prefer to download it, no need to wait for delivery.

If you ever need to reinstall it, the purchase is saved in your Amazon account for free download at a later date.


TurboTax Deluxe

TurboTax Deluxe 2016 Tax Software Federal & State + Fed Efile PC/MAC Disc  [Amazon Exclusive]
TurboTax Deluxe 2016 Tax Software Federal & State + Fed Efile PC/MAC Disc [Amazon Exclusive]

The Deluxe version does both Federal and State. It helps find deductions for you so you can legally reduce your taxes.

This is all you need if you don't have investments such as stocks or bonds. If you do have investments then you need the Premier version that I discuss below.

TurboTax Deluxe can be downloaded or purchased on a CD for both PC and Mac computers.

 

TurboTax Premier

TurboTax Premier 2016 Tax Software Federal & State + Fed Efile PC/MAC Disc  [Amazon Exclusive]
TurboTax Premier 2016 Tax Software Federal & State + Fed Efile PC/MAC Disc [Amazon Exclusive]

The Premier is the same as the Deluxe, but in addition it handles investments and rental property. This is the one I use every year since I trade stocks.

I also take advantage of TurboTax Premier's feature to let it log into my broker account and capture all the Form 1099 data, including stock purchases and sales. This saves me all the time I would otherwise spend typing in all may trades.

TurboTax Premier can be downloaded or purchased on a CD for both PC and Mac computers.

 

Find Out What You Can Claim on Your Taxes


Turbotax will help you discover all the things you can claim as deductions on your taxes.

Based on your overall tax reporting, Turbotax will suggest other claims you may have missed. It will also guide you through all the existing possibilities that help reduce your taxes even further.

The following table shows some deductions that can reduce taxes. These are all covered with precise guidance according to IRS regulations as Turbotax walks you through your return.

Sample Deductions


  • Personal Exemptions
  • Real estate property taxes
  • Alimony (some cases)
  • Student Loan Interest
  • Education-Related Expenses
  • Self-Employment Expenses
  • Social Security (FICA) Taxes
  • Medical claims
  • Medicare Premiums
  • Health Insurance
  • Charitable Deductions
  • Energy Efficiency Purchases
  • Renewable Energy Credits
  • Automobile Tax Credits (some cases)
  • Child Care


Compare TurboTax for Business

If you have your own business and are self-employed as a sole proprietor, or you are incorporated, then you need one of these business versions.

Home & Business

TurboTax Home & Business 2016 Tax Software Federal & State + Fed Efile PC download  [Amazon Exclusive]
TurboTax Home & Business 2016 Tax Software Federal & State + Fed Efile PC download [Amazon Exclusive]

The Home & Business version is what you need if you are self-employed. This version also does taxes for single-owner LLC’s and it includes State Tax preparation.

However, if you have an LLC with more than one person, or if you have a Corporation, then you need TurboTax Business Federal shown below.

TurboTax Home & Business can be downloaded or purchased on a CD for both PC and Mac computers.

 

Business Federal

TurboTax Business 2016 Tax Software Federal + Fed Efile PC Disc
TurboTax Business 2016 Tax Software Federal + Fed Efile PC Disc

This is different than the Home & Business. The Business Turbotax is for Corporations and LLC's with more than one person.

State Tax preparation is not included, but can be added for an additional fee. You will be given the option to download your state software when you run TurboTax Business Federal.

I was incorporated until I retired, so I had used this one for my corporate taxes.

TurboTax Business can be downloaded or purchased on a CD for both PC and Mac computers.

 

Filing for a Non-Calendar Fiscal Year

You may even save on the purchase of Business TurboTax.


This section only applies to you if you have a corporation and you file for a Fiscal Year that is not January thru December.

This was my case, since I incorporated in June and my fiscal year went from June 1st to May 31st.

If your fiscal year is not the same as a calendar year, then you may get a chance to buy the Business TurboTax from Amazon at a reduced price since you wan wait to purchase it when you need to file.

For example, I don’t need to file in April for my business. Since my fiscal year ends in May, my deadline for filing is September. Therefore, I wait until August to buy TurboTax for Business. Amazon has it at a huge discount by then since they consider it obsolete for that year.

Take advantage of that if you can.

Common Questions About Tax Preparation with TurboTax


  • Can I do eFiles for other family members? How many eFiles can I do?

You can do up to five eFiles when you buy the CD software version or download it from Amazon. However, the online version only lets you do one return.

  • Can I share TurboTax with a friend or family members? How many tax returns can I file with one TurboTax purchase?

The software version on CD and the download version is unlimited as long as you do the returns on a single computer where you installed your copy of TurboTax. However, keep in mind that you can only eFile up to five returns. Beyond that you need to print the forms, for your family members or friends, to mail in.

  • Can you use TurboTax for all family members?

Yes, same as last question. You can eFile, as well, for up to five individual family member’s returns.

  • Can you delete your information from TurboTax when you're done?

Yes, but you really wouldn't want to, because TurboTax makes it easier to do your taxes each of the following years by carrying forward all pertinent information.

I personally don't like the online version for that reason, since your data is saved on their servers. I am sure your data is safe, but I feel more comfortable having it on my own computer. Therefore, I always use the downloaded software version rather than the online version on their site.

Using it on my own computer gives me full control for safekeeping since none of my data resides on their server. Just remember to back up your files if you do the same thing.

  • Can I use TurboTax to file for a deceased parent?

I had done this. It works very well. If you are the executor, TurboTax will guide you with properly filing the final return for a deceased parent or other relative.

  • Can I use TurboTax for business with a fiscal year?

Yes. I do that. See my complete explanation in the section above: "Filing for a Non-Calendar Fiscal Year"

  • Can I do my personal taxes with TurboTax Business?

"TurboTax Business Federal" is for Corporations and not for personal 1040. The State return needs to be added with an additional fee for Corporate businesses. The "Home & Business Federal" can be used for personal 1040 forms, and it even includes your State return as well.

  • Can I download a different TurboTax State for different family members?

You can purchase and download as many States as you need. The first you download is included free. However, TurboTax Basic and TurboTax Business does not include the State return for free and has to be purchased.

  • Can you use TurboTax for more than one year?

No. Tax laws change every year and TurboTax constantly keeps up with the changes. That's why you need to purchase a new one every year. Your personal information and tax data is automatically carried forward, so doing your taxes becomes easier with each additional year.


© 2012 Glenn Stok

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Reader Comments 12 comments

savanahl profile image

savanahl 4 years ago

Great information. I just purchased Turbo Tax and am using it now. I have to say I absolutely love it. It's so simple.


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

I have been using Turbo Tax since 2005. Prior to that I had an accountant who was charging me $125 every year, and an extra $5 for each question I had. I dumped the accountant for TurboTax and never looked back. Very informative article, voted up, useful, awesome.


stillwaters707 profile image

stillwaters707 4 years ago from Texas

I have tried by Turbo Tax and Taxact. Taxact is free, but you do have to pay for a printed report. My experience is that Turbo Tax is best. It's worth it knowing what I'm paying for up front, with a printable or downloadable form included. The software is best for anyone, like a caretaker, who has to do their own and their loved one's taxes.

I can't believe TurboTax worked better for you than an accountant. Wow!

Informative hub!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Well, I have to admit that it all depends on which accountant one has. I guess mine wasn't so great. And also it depends on how much work is involved. If I had several businesses I probably wouldn't have the time to do all the accounting as well. But with one business and no extremely complicated tax issues, I have no problem. I'm glad you found my hub informative. Thanks for stopping by.


Valene profile image

Valene 3 years ago from Missouri

I have used an accountant for the past few years only because I am afraid to mess anything up on my own. I have a simple return I think...standard deduction, single no dependents and I have student loans, a very small 401k and I have to pay this "city tax" for living inside the city limits of Kansas City, MO.

Do you think I would get just as accurate a return with Turbo Tax as with my accountant? Or would it just as easy? I don't want to have to mail a separate thing to the state, a separate thing to the city, etc. My accountant usually charges me $60 and mails it all off and files everything for me.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Valene - I have two answers to your question...

On one hand, your tax situation is so simple that there is really no need to have a professional do it. When I was young and had a similar situation as yours, I filled out the forms myself. No accountant and no TurboTax (at the time). I am sure you can do this too and save the $60.

On the other hand, if your accountant is only charging you $60 you may as well let him or her do it. You have to consider your time-cost too -- the time it takes you to do it.

Your final decision is based on what you feel is important to you. In my case it is worth it since I get to know more about my own finances and letting someone else do it leaves me in the dark. I learned this when I started my business and used an accountant for the business filings. At one point I started doing my business tax filings myself too (with TurboTax). That helped me discover important things about my money-flow that my accountant never brought to my attention.


Valene profile image

Valene 3 years ago from Missouri

Thanks, Glenn! I am really trying to save money this year and I might just give TurboTax a try. I am HORRIBLE with numbers and details and as such I feel rather insecure about doing my own taxes, but maybe this TurboTax thing could give me a better insight into my situation in a way I could understand. And be cheaper to boot!


Mimi 2 years ago

I had bougth 2 versions of Turbo Tax, Deluxe and Home and Business, do I have to uninstall one and install the other one to get 10 free federal e-files?


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Mimi - You do get five efiles for each TurboTax you buy. Every year I install both the Premier and the Business version myself. They don't interfere with one another. I would think the same is so for the two versions you use. So you can keep them both installed and do what you need to do with each. Just make sure you don't ever open the wrong tax file in the wrong version. That may mess things up.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA

Great idea to use the software! I've been using Tax Act, but have used Turbo Tax in the past. Besides the fact that you may not know the competence of your attorney, using the software has other advantages. You are more aware of deductions, so that helps you in future financial decisions, such as what investments to buy. It also helps you make adjustments, like increase the amount of your IRA , so that you can reduce your taxes.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Millionaire Tips - Thanks for stopping by and for your comments, Shasta. I've used TurboTax for well over a decade already and I like how it continues to carry forward all required information to the following year. Back in the days when I used an accountant, I had to remind her of information she missed several times. Of course, some accountants are better at keeping track. TurboTax makes it much easier since I know it will not forget to carry things forward, such as stock losess that can be deducted in future years. I also like how TurboTax suggests things that save me money, such as adding more to my IRA, etc. As you said, all this makes me more aware of what's going on. Thanks again for your comments.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 weeks ago from Long Island, NY Author

I updated this Hub to include the 2016 versions of TurboTax.

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