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TurboTax's software is easy to use but can be expensive for complicated returns

Intuit's tax-filing software dominates the market, but is it worth the expense?


Choosing the right tax software can help you get your taxes done quickly and accurately and with the biggest refund.

TurboTax is an industry leader and a good fit if you're looking for live expert assistance and an easy-to-follow interface. Unless you have a simple return to file, however, it's pricier than the competition.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down TurboTax's filing software and services to help you decide if it's they're right for you.


On TurboTax's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected - click "Learn More" for details

  • Free version

    TurboTax Free Edition. ~37% of taxpayers qualify. Form 1040 + limited credits only.

  • Mobile app


  • Live support

    Available with some pricing and filing options

Click here for TurboTax offer details and disclosures. Terms apply.


  • Step-by-step guidance with a Q&A format that is easy to follow
  • TurboTax Live provides on-demand advice and a final review from a tax expert
  • Live Full Service has a tax expert prepare, sign, and file your return
  • Audit support, which provides free assistance if you get an IRS or other tax notice


  • More costly than other software programs
  • Live expert assistance plans have additional costs

TurboTax pros and cons

Whether or not TurboTax is right for you largely depends on your budget and needs. Here are the pros and cons of TurboTax's services.

TurboTax pros and cons: Is it for you?


  • Easy-to-follow interface with a series of interactive questions
  • Access to help from a live professional
  • Ability to upload tax documents
  • Accuracy and maximum refund amount guaranteed
  • If you're audited, TurboTax will provide informational support


  • More expensive than other tax-filing software
  • Just simple tax returns (including taxpayers with only W-2 income) qualify for TurboTax Free Edition
  • Processing state tax returns generally costs extra

Advantages of TurboTax

There are several advantages to choosing one of TurboTax's tax filing software, from live support to simple uploading interfaces. Here's what you should know if you're considering using a TurboTax product for your taxes in 2024.

Easy-to-follow interface

TurboTax uses a question-and-answer format to collect all relevant information. It's intuitive and simple, guiding you through the process in a way that's easy to follow.

Live support

If you're uncertain about doing your taxes yourself, TurboTax's live support features can make sure you're on the right track. There are two levels of assistance: Live Assisted and Live Full Service.

TurboTax's Live Assisted feature includes real-time help from tax experts by phone, live chat or video call. Help is available seven days a week from whenever the IRS starts accepting tax returns through the filing deadline in April.

The Live Full Service program matches users with a local tax expert who handles the entire process. Packages start at $129 for simple federal tax returns. (State tax returns are extra.)

Ability to upload tax documents

If you've received your W-2 or other tax forms digitally, TurboTax makes it simple to upload those documents to their site, reducing the time it takes to do your taxes and cutting down on the chances of mistakes.

TurboTax also saves a record of your tax documents and previous year's information can be accessed if you use the service again.

Guarantees your returns

TurboTax backs its services with several guarantees.

  • Tax Return Lifetime Guarantee: TurboTax vouches for the accuracy of individual returns.
  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee: TurboTax will pay for penalty or interest caused by a calculation error the company made.
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee: If file an amended return using another tax prep method and get more money back (or owe less), TurboTax will refund your product purchase. (TurboTax Free Edition customers are entitled to a payment of $30.)
  • Audit Support Guarantee: If you receive an audit letter from the IRS or your state department of revenue, TurboTax will offer one-on-one informational assistance from a tax professional.

Disadvantages of TurboTax

Like all tax-processing software, TurboTax does have its drawbacks. Here's what you should know before starting your taxes with TurboTax.

It's more expensive

TurboTax's free editions are only available for individuals with simple returns (filing Form 1040 and limited credits only). For everyone else — including those who have itemized deductions or income from freelance work or rental properties — TurboTax's offerings can cost hundreds of dollars more than comparable services by H&R Block and TaxSlayer.

Processing state taxes costs extra

For most paid plans, the price you see listed for federal returns doesn't include the state tax return you may need to file.

TurboTax Free Edition review

Cost: $0*

Who this is for: You have a simple tax return and are filing IRS Form 1040 + limited credits only. TurboTax Free Edition includes options to file federal and state taxes. According to TurboTax, about 37% of taxpayers qualify for this edition.

Here are the situations covered by TurboTax's free versions:

  • W-2 income
  • 1099-INT and 1099-DIV forms reporting interest and dividend income
  • Standard deduction
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Student loan interest deductions

If you have any of the following, you may need a paid TurboTax plan:

  • Itemized deductions
  • Unemployment income on a 1099-G
  • Stock or cryptocurrency sales
  • Freelance income, like 1099-NEC income
  • Business income
  • Rental property income

TurboTax review

Cost: $0* to $129 for federal taxes. (State taxes are $0* if you qualify for a free federal return, otherwise $64 each.)

Who this is for: Those who want to maximize their refund or minimize the money owed by accessing a wider variety of tax deductions and credits than the $0* filing version, received unemployment income, own a home, or donated to charity could file for as low as $64 for federal taxes.

Those who sold stock or cryptocurrency, owned a rental property, were self-employed or worked as an independent contractor can file for $129.

TurboTax Live Assisted review

Cost: $0* to $219 for federal taxes. (State taxes are an additional $69 each with paid products.)

Who this is for: For those who have simple taxes and plan to file before March 31, 2024, TurboTax's Live Assisted program could cost as little as $0*.

TurboTax Live Assisted may be free for those with the following situations:

  • W-2 income
  • 1099-INT and 1099-DIV forms reporting interest and dividend income
  • Standard deduction
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Student loan interest deductions

If you have itemized deductions, take credits or deductions on other forms or schedules, received unemployment income, had business, rental or 1099-NEC income or sold cryptocurrency or stocks, you may need to pay for the TurboTax Live Assisted features.

TurboTax Live Full Service review

Cost:  Starts at $129 for federal taxes. ($69 per state)

Who this is for: Those who want an expert to file their taxes for them.

Those with just W-2 income can expect to pay at least $89, though If you want access to more credit and deduction options, you can expect to pay $219 ($249 if you own a home). Those with unemployment benefits, income from rental properties or who have sold stock or crypto will pay $309 to file their federal taxes.

If you have freelance or independent contractor income, the product costs $389.

TurboTax versus the competition 

TurboTax stacks up well against other tax-prep software providers, but it's also more expensive. Here's what you need to know about how TurboTax compares to other tax software products on the market. 

TurboTax versus H&R Block 

The biggest difference between H&R Block and TurboTax is price. In many instances, H&R Block is the cheaper option. Both H&R Block and TurboTax allow you to use apps on your phone or tablet to file taxes. Both also offer a free version to those who have a simple tax situation. 

TurboTax versus H&R Block Costs 

TurboTax do-it-yourself options 

  • TurboTax Free Edition: $0* federal, $0* state (if you qualify)
  • TurboTax: $0* to $129, state taxes are $0* if you qualify for a free federal return, otherwise $64 each  
  • TurboTax Live Assisted: Cost: $89* to $219, state taxes additional $69 each with paid products 
  • TurboTax Live Full Service:  Starts at $129 ($69 per state) 

H&R Block do-it-yourself options 

  • Basic: $0 federal, $0 state 
  • Deluxe: $35 federal, $37 state 
  • Premium: $60 federal, $37 state 
  • Self-employed: $85 federal, $37 state 

Pros of TurboTax compared to H&R Block 

Here's where TurboTax has an edge over H&R Block: 

  • If you have a simple tax return, you can use TurboTax Live Assisted Basic for free help through the end of March. With H&R Block, assistance from a tax professional starts at $35. 

Cons of TurboTax compared to H&R Block 

Here's what you need to know before going with TurboTax over H&R Block: 

  • H&R Block may be cheaper for complicated tax situations. For those with itemized deductions or rental property or business income, it could cost less to use H&R Block than TurboTax. 
  • Unemployment income is included in H&R Block's free version. Unemployment income on a 1099-G form is not included with TurboTax Free Edition. 
  • In-person help is available with H&R Block. In addition to online support, H&R Block has physical locations across the US. In-person support isn't free with the purchase of a tax package, however. 

TurboTax versus TaxSlayer 

TaxSlayer and TurboTax are close competitors but, as with H&R Block, cost is the main difference. Both offer free versions, though TurboTax's is more robust and offers more credits. TaxSlayer and TurboTax also both offer free filing for military members. 

TurboTax versus TaxSlayer Costs 

TurboTax options 

  • TurboTax Free Edition: $0* federal, $0* state (if you qualify)
  • TurboTax: $0* to $129, state taxes are $0* if you qualify for a free federal return, otherwise $64 each  
  • TurboTax Live Assisted: Cost: $89* to $219, state taxes additional $69 each with paid products 
  • TurboTax Live Full Service:  Starts at $129 ($69 per state) 

TaxSlayer options 

  • Simply Free: $0 federal, $0 state 
  • Classic: $22.95 federal, $39.95 state 
  • Military: $0 federal, $39.95 state
  • Premium: $42.95 federal, $39.95 state 
  • Self-employed: $52.95 federal, $39.95 state 

Pros of TurboTax compared to TaxSlayer 

Here's how TurboTax stands out over TaxSlayer: 

  • Earned income tax credit and child tax credit available in TurboTax Free Edition. With TaxSlayer, users need to buy at least the Classic package ($22.95) to access these credits. 
  • TurboTax offers full-service filing. TurboTax Live Full Service allows you to upload your documents and have someone else do the rest. TaxSlayer is only do-it-yourself. 

Cons of TurboTax compared to TaxSlayer 

Here's where TaxSlayer stands out: 

  • TaxSlayer is cheaper for live assistance. TaxSlayer's Premium package starts at $42.95 for federal tax filing and includes access to a live tax professional via chat, phone and email. If you have to pay for live support with TurboTax, the price starts at $89.


Income taxes for the 2023 tax year are due April 15, 2024. If you won't be filing your taxes by this date, you'll need to file for an extension with the IRS.  

  • Take advantage of all the credits you're eligible for. Tax credits reduce the amount you directly owe the IRS, which could be helpful if you're facing a big tax bill. Some credits, such as the earned income tax credit, are refundable — meaning they could increase your refund. 
  • File early. While filing early will not directly change your refund amount, it could change what you pay for tax prep services. Taking advantage of offers such as TurboTax's Live Basic (which is free before March 31, 2024) could save you money. If you pay for your tax filing service out of your refund, it could make that refund larger. 
  • Consider your filing status. It makes sense for some couples to file jointly, while others may want to file individually. If you're single, you may still qualify for head of household status. 

Bottom line 

While TurboTax provides an easy-to-use experience with intuitive tools, it can be expensive for those who want — or need — to use its more advanced versions. If you want to take the stress out of tax filing season, however, it may be well worth the cost.

*Click here for TurboTax offer details and disclosures.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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