The call starts by phone, and then you can initiate one-way live video or screen sharing. On a February afternoon, I experienced a 1-hour wait for a call-back from a tax professional, not including the first step of connecting to a technical-support representative. On the plus side, TurboTax Live will now offer year-round access to tax pros for tax questions, though how that will work in practice remains to be seen.
One other bonus to using TurboTax Live: You'll have the option to let a tax pro review your return before you file. Ease of Use If you've used TurboTax or other Intuit online products before, you log in to this year's program using your Intuit credentials; new customers create an account. We began with the Deluxe product and filled out our return to see how the service handled any recommended upgrades.
While you can graduate up to Live or other higher-level products as you put together your return, we didn't see a way to go backward, which makes having so many offerings as a starting point confusing. Adding Live as a step-up feature might have helped make the process clearer to navigate. We had other frustrations as we moved through filling out our return.
TurboTax begins the process of asking you detailed questions to collect personal data. As elsewhere in the tax-return process, those questions are largely couched in plain English, but the English is often a little too colloquial for our tastes.
On one screen, TurboTax says, "There are 1,s of industries, but only one you. Good thing we know both. Although TurboTax has a solid interface in general, in many cases, some screens feature a lot of unused white space that could have been used to provide more information; other screens were needlessly complex, requiring multiple fields and more clicks than you'd expect to enter data.
Some steps also felt repetitive, such as when we answered questions in the initial sign-up, only to have to answer them again later in greater detail. For example, by selecting self-employed during TurboTax's initial screening, we had expected that the service would warn us that we would need to upgrade from the Deluxe version to the self-employed product. Instead, all we got was a standard upgrade option in the left navigation bar, which yielded no recommendations when we clicked through.
The upgrade alert came only after we entered the information into what was the start of our return. TurboTax can also feel a bit invasive. We received an avalanche of reminders to complete our return in time for early-bird pricing, and the company also asked us, during sign-up, to opt-in to sharing our tax data with our Intuit account for "personalized advice and offers.
After TurboTax's initial queries, you're deposited into the home screen of the service, ready to fill out the details that will make up your tax return, starting with My Info — a more text- and fact-based version of the pre-screening.
Once all of this is done, you can start your return. You can jump among these and fill in pieces as you wish, or you can go through sequentially. When you reach the end, TurboTax alerts you to missing information. But in our experience it only alerted to something obvious — like a missing employer identification number — as opposed to more subtle omissions, such as alerts about deductions common to your particular profession. Bottom Line TurboTax isn't hard or unfriendly to use.
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