Start Online Tax Filing Free with TurboTax

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If memory serves me correctly, I’ve used TurboTax to file my taxes for nine of the last ten years.

First, let me tell you about the one year I DIDN’T use TurboTax.

A guy walks into a CPA office and drops off his tax paperwork.  He picks it up several weeks later and drops that envelope in the mail.  A few weeks later, the same guy gets a letter from the IRS saying that a miscalculation underestimated my return by $1,600.

Yes, I was that guy.

Last year I mentioned that most people should do their own taxes. Now I’m not saying you need file your own taxes, but you need to be intimately involved in the process.  Even if you don’t file your own taxes, you should go through the process of doing your own taxes.

Reasons to start online tax filing for free:

  1. When you do your own taxes, you can check the work of anyone else who is also doing your taxes.  With all those numbers, a second set of eyes never hurt anyone.
  2. While you do your own taxes, you clearly see how your spending, tracking, and accounting impact your taxes.

Doing your own taxes is like a free tax school.  Those lessons could be valuable for the rest of your life.

Why don’t more people do their own taxes?  I think they’re intimidated by the process.

TurboTax to the Rescue: Start Free Online Tax Filing

Here is the best no-risk way to get in touch with your inner tax man or woman: start your tax filing online using TurboTax.

Visit the TurboTax website and choose the right software.

  • Free Edition – File Federal taxes for free if you have the most basic tax situation.
  • Deluxe Edition – If you have deductions (donations or medical expenses) and you are a homeowner.
  • Premier Edition – For those with investments and the other elements of the Deluxe edition.
  • Home and Business Edition – Those who need to file small business taxes along with their personal.
  • Business Edition – Used to file for a corporation, partnership, or multi-member LLC.

With the exception of the Business Edition, you’ll be able to start to file online for free.

This means you get to go through the process of entering data, preparing your taxes, estimating your taxes owning or due, all with no risk.  Now, if at the end you decide to use Turbo Tax to file, you will off course need to pay.  But I think there is a nothing to lose from this approach since you’ll get a good understanding of how taxes work.

Hey, wait!  Is this ethical? TurboTax is confident about its product that if you start it, you’ll finish it.  Thus, I don’t think there is any problem using the online TurboTax program to enter your information even if you don’t plan to use it to file.  TurboTax is willing to take that risk in case you change your mind and actually do pay to file.

Suggestions for people who have never filed online, never done their own taxes, or are first time tax filers:

  1. Repeat the following phrase before starting – “This is not rocket science.  If I can pass grade 8, I can do my own taxes.”
  2. Get all your paperwork in order before starting.  When you get tax documents in the mail, start a file and put everything into that file.  Once you have all your paperwork, start your tax filing.
  3. E-filing is the simplest way to submit your taxes.  TurboTax includes a free e-file with their product.  I always wondered what would happen if your tax return got lost in the mail.
  4. You can often download/import information from your financial software or from your financial institutions.  Don’t worry.  If the idea of entering all your stock purchases sounds overwhelming, you can usually just import all that information.
  5. When completing your taxes with TurboTax, go through each stage step by step.  Don’t try and guess what is and is not appropriate.  Just follow the questions and be sure you don’t miss anything.
  6. If you’re not feeling confident to actually file your own taxes, then once someone completes it, you can compare your results with theirs.

To start your free TurboTax online process, click here.

Photo by alancleaver_2000

Anyone going to be brave enough to try their hand at filing their own taxes this year?


  1. says

    Awesome info Craig! Do you use the Business Edition or just the free?

    I was thinking about using a CPA because I had a business and sold it…but I might just try the Business Edition. (I used Turbo tax last year with no problems so I’m sure I won’t mess something up too bad)

    Thanks for the article – it’s a real confidence booster :)

    • says

      I use TurboTax Home and Business. Yes, that does cost when you file. You’ll need to visit the landing page to see which is the right edition for you, but I suspect Home and Business is what you need.

      The beauty of this system is you can have a point of comparison even if you do do use a CPA.

    • says

      There are some editions that are free and some that are just over $100. It just depends what type/how complicated your return is. You can get that info from their site.

  2. says

    I’ve used Turbo Tax for probably 20 + years. The last 3 or 4 years I have used the on-line version (instead of the client package that runs on one’s PC). I haven’t been doing this in the past but you can deduct the cost of the service. The online version does a super job of maintaining an archive of past tax returns and can be accessed from any PC (Linux, Mac, Windows).

    I have been blessed by your blog.

  3. Sam says

    Technically, the reason some use a CPA. They will work with you if you have an audit. Some will do it for free or low cost. You do it yourself, they will charge you a lot to help with the audit. 2011 Turbo tax has added some states for free online version & I read it included Earned income credit for both the Fed & State provided your state still has EIC. I am not a CPA.

  4. says

    I’ve been using Turbo Tax for the past 4 or 5 years. I also file late Jan / early Feb and this year was no different. I love that I can import data from last year and it can pull information from my W-2s electronically too….sweet!

  5. says

    The TurboTax Freedom says that it will be temporarily unavailable. When will it be up again? It’s Jan 30th, 2012 now, and I need it to file my tax return for NC.

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