What Are the Key Differences Between Turbotax Online Vs. Desktop? - Wikiaccounting (2023)

Tax season is not a happy one for most people. The reasons include the complicated process of tax returns and making sure that financial statements are up to date.

Besides, ensuring that everything is reported with compliance and you’ve claimed all possible deductions is also a concern. And this problem is common whether an individual is filing his return or a small business is doing so.

However, many software and tax apps have simplified the process for tax filers. You can easily file the tax return and get away from the difficulty of understanding every minor detail about tax.

Besides, it can save hundreds of dollars businesses would pay to CPAs. Besides, CPAs can also save their time by drafting different types of tax returns for countless customers.

One such software is Turbotax.

Turbotax is the #1 app in the category of tax apps with a lot of plans and features. It’s a tax filing app developed by Intuit and covers the concern of a large tax base.

Whether you’re a self-employed person or investor, student or small business, you can get a guided process of tax filing, deductions, refunds, etc.

There is an online version and a Desktop/CD version of Turbotax. Many people go for the cd/desktop version, while others rely on the web-based online version of Turbotax.

Are both of these versions different from each other? How does Turbotax compare with other tax software? These are some of the questions asked by the tax filers.

Therefore, we are going to discuss the key features of Turbotax and the difference between Turbotax Desktop and Turbotax Online. Besides, we will also compare Turbotax with other tax software available in the market.

What Is Turbotax?

As mentioned earlier, Turbotax is a product of Intuit to facilitate the taxpayers, CPAs, and businesses by giving a convenient method of filing returns backed by final expert review. Intuit is not only behind Turbotax but many other software like Mailchimp, Mint, Quickbooks, etc., are also on its credit.

Turbotax has been there for decades, and it’s as old as the mid-1980s. In 2022, the software has earned the repute of top software for tax returns.

The clean interface, ease of use, interview method for tax deductions, and several products are available within the suite are what make Turbotax unique.

You can answer different questions to make the right choices about tax deductions and get an expert review of the finalized return.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Turbotax has become a market leader as compared to other tax software like H & R Block, Cash App Taxes, etc.

The software has paid and free versions for the customers that they can choose from according to their requirements. The mobile app of Turbotax is also available that making it an even more convenient method for return filing.

Related article Why Do I Still Owe Taxes if I Claim Zero?

Features Of Turbotax

So what do you get when subscribing to Intuit Turbotax?

All features of Turbotax might not be available at one or another pricing level. But most of the features are present in whichever option you go with. Here are the main features of Intuit Turbotax:

Different Options For All Types of Tax Payers

The best thing about Turbotax is that it offers different options for all types of taxpayers. For instance, an investor would have different types of deductions, and a self-employed person will have different needs.

Therefore, you can choose the right option for your needs. However, different options might have varying pricing.

Expert Review Of Tax Return In Turbotax Live

Whichever option of Turbotax you go with, you have the option to get your tax return reviewed by tax experts. Besides, you can get tax advice from experts all year round.

E-Filing Help

You can get advice and help from tax experts and CPAs about e-filing of tax. It’s a great option for individuals and those filing returns for the first time.

Advice From Tax Experts In Self-Employed and All Levels of Turbotax Live

You can ask for advice about industry-specific deductions, tax return filing for freelancers or small business owners, mortgage tax deductions, donations treatment, etc.,

Audit Assessment For Self-Employed People

If you’ve chosen the self-employed suite, you get the feature of audit assessment from CPAs and experts and make sure that everything is going in the right direction for you.

Industry-Specific Deductions

Industry-specific deductions feature is available for the self-employed suite only. You can also get advice on your self-employment income and expenses.

And there are numerous other features available that you can only explore when inside the ecosystem.

Turbotax Vs. Other Tax Software

Turbotax, H&R Block, Cash App Taxes, Tax Act, etc., are the most popular tax software and apps available in the market. When we compare Turbotax with other software, the following benefits, and downsides of Turbotax are highlighted:


  • The simplified process and easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Easy to import supporting documents
  • Tax preparation assistance at various levels
  • Different products and pricing plans
  • Free basic version for simplified tax return


  • Not a very good option for people on a budget
  • You have to pay additional costs every time filing a state tax return except in a self-employed plan

In comparison with Turbotax, H&R Block is the most affordable option with a free version. However, it lags behind in offering incentives to early filers, user interfaces, and more advanced features.

Related article What And Where is Box D in a W2 Form? Understanding Your W-2 Form

When comparing TaxAct with Turbotax, TaxAct is also a more affordable option with more or less the same. But features. But again, Turbotax wins in the user interface, human support, and other advanced features.

Turbotax Online Vs. Turbotax Desktop

Turbotax Online and Turbotax Desktop are two facades of the same software. Each of these two targets the taxpayers, but where they differ is the preference of users to rely on cloud-based software or get away with a CD/Desktop version.

Besides some differences in the user interface, how tax returns are priced, and functionalities, both versions are more or less the same.

Turbotax Online

Turbotax Online is a web-based and cloud-based version of Turbotax where all information is stored in the cloud. The main features of Turbotax Online include:

  • Cloud-based software stores all users’ data on Turbotax.com that can be accessed through the web browser.
  • You need web connectivity to access the features of the software. However, the web-based version’s positive side is no need for the installation process and heavy software occupying your device’s memory.
  • You can also plan a government assessment plan in Turbotax Online.
  • You don’t have to pay anything until you are filing the return, and the price is determined when filing the return.

The limitations within Turbotax Online are:

  • There are no separate business returns for LLC, S, Estate, Corp, Trust, etc.
  • Every return(state, tax, etc.) has separate charges. Therefore, it’s good for those who want to file one return and not both.
  • You might not be able to access your online stored data after October each year
  • Only a predetermined number of stock exchanges is included
  • There is no feature of importing financial data from QuickBooks or relevant software

Turbotax Desktop

With the Desktop version of Turbotax, you have to download and install the software. You can download the Deluxe or Basic version after paying the price. The main features you get with Turbotax Desktop are as follows:

  • You do not need internet access while preparing your files and documentation
  • It’s possible to import financial information directly from other software like QuickBooks, Quicken, etc
  • There is no extra expense up to 5 government gets backs
  • There is no limit to how many returns you are planning and recording
  • Earlier year’s profits and data can be amended
  • More than 500 stock exchanges are listed
  • There is an option for separate business returns for LLC, Estate, Corporation, Bequest, Enterprise, Trust, etc.

The limitations of Turbotax Desktop are:

  • You have to pay before you actually start the process of tax filing
  • The data storage and tax-related information can easily get exposed to unauthorized persons accessing your device.
  • You can only access Turbotax from the device you have installed it on. You cannot file a return from any other device.
  • Although available for both Windows and Mac, it doesn’t work on Windows older than Windows 7.
Related article Ultimate Guide to Home Depot Pay Stub and W2s For a Current and Former Employee

Do You Have to Buy Turbotax Every Year?

No, you don’t have to buy TurboTax every year. TurboTax is a software program that helps individuals prepare and file their tax returns. The software is typically updated every year to reflect changes in tax laws and regulations, and to improve its functionality.

While you don’t have to buy TurboTax every year, you may need to upgrade to a new version if you have a change in your tax situation or if you need to file a different type of return (such as a business tax return).

If you purchase TurboTax online, you may be able to download and install the software on multiple computers, which can help you save money if you file taxes for multiple people.

TurboTax also offers a variety of different packages and pricing options to choose from, depending on your needs. Some versions of the software may be free or low-cost for individuals with simple tax returns, while others may be more expensive for those with more complex tax situations.

Additionally, TurboTax offers a range of optional add-ons and services that can be purchased for an additional fee, such as audit defense, live tax advice, and more.

Ultimately, whether or not you need to buy TurboTax every year will depend on your individual tax situation and whether or not you need to file a tax return.

If you have a simple tax return and feel comfortable preparing and filing your own taxes, you may be able to use a free online tax software or file your taxes manually without using TurboTax.

However, if you have a more complex tax situation or feel unsure about how to prepare and file your taxes, using a software program like TurboTax may be helpful.

Final Words

Turbotax Online and Turbotax Desktop have their own benefits and limitations. It’s you who has to decide which one to go for. If you’re a person more comfortable working with installed programs, the Desktop version is for you.

However, if you don’t want to pay until you file the return and want a cloud-based data storage, the Online version will go along. Besides, you can compare the benefits and limitations we have listed before deciding which version to go for.


Are there different types of TurboTax? ›

TurboTax Help and Support: Access to a TurboTax product specialist is included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, Premium, TurboTax Live Assisted and TurboTax Live Full Service; not included with Free Edition (but is available as an upgrade).

Is it better to buy TurboTax or use it online? ›

For most people, the best option is using TurboTax online, where you do your taxes on your computer, or using the TurboTax mobile app. There's a free version of the software available, but it only works for the simplest tax returns, and not all taxpayers qualify.

Why use TurboTax online? ›

TurboTax Online offers the convenience of preparing and e-filing your tax return from virtually any computer or mobile device with Internet access. There's no software to install and nothing you'll need to save on your computer. We'll store all of your information on our secure servers.

Which version of TurboTax is best for me? ›

What products does TurboTax offer?
  • Basic: Free option for students and filers with a simple return. ...
  • Deluxe: Best for maximizing deductions and credits. ...
  • Premier: Best for more complicated returns (investments and real estate income) ...
  • Self-Employed: Best for gig workers, freelancers and business owners.

Which version of TurboTax is best for retirees? ›

TurboTax Premier

Helps you in the calculation of retirement taxes. Supports you in calculating rental property income and similar expenses. Offers you maximum returns. Offers e-filing of tax returns in an easy way.

How much does TurboTax desktop cost? ›

TurboTax Desktop
Deluxe (federal only)$60
Home & Business$120
1 more row

Is there a downside to TurboTax? ›

TurboTax cons

On the downside, TurboTax doesn't offer expert assistance with every package, so if you opt for the free and basic version, you may find yourself in need of more guidance along the way. There also aren't any physical locations like H&R Block and other similar services offer.

Should I pay someone to do my taxes or use TurboTax? ›

Should You Use TurboTax or a Professional Tax Preparer? The simple answer is: Yes, you should consult a professional tax preparer even if you intend on using TurboTax to file your taxes.

Does it matter which TurboTax I use? ›

Choose the TurboTax Deluxe edition if you are looking for deductions related to your job or home ownership. For deductions associated with stocks or rental properties, choosing the TurboTax Premier would be the best option. If you have a home business or are self-employed, TurboTax Home and Business would be ideal.

Does TurboTax online keep a copy of your return? ›

TurboTax Tip: If you filed your taxes with a TurboTax CD/download product, your tax return should be stored on your computer, so you can print a copy at any time. If you use TurboTax Online, you can sign in and print copies of your tax return for free.

Why is TurboTax forcing me to use Deluxe? ›

If we detect that your tax situation requires expanded coverage, like deductions for owning a home, unemployment income, or self-employment income, we'll prompt you to upgrade to a version that supports the forms you need so we can maximize your tax deductions and ensure you file an accurate return.

How many tax returns can I file with TurboTax online? ›

You can prepare up to 20 returns in your TurboTax Online account. With TurboTax Online, you pay per return and can choose to use different editions, up to a total of 20 returns.

How do I get the most out of TurboTax? ›

Here are seven ways to help ensure that you're taking advantage of the tools that TurboTax provides.
  1. Examine Your Financial Situation Carefully. ...
  2. Practice Good Security. ...
  3. Import Data. ...
  4. Read All the Instructions. ...
  5. Don't Skip Ahead. ...
  6. File Early. ...
  7. Use TurboTax's Tools to Plan for Next Year.
Feb 12, 2016

How do I know if I need TurboTax Deluxe or Premier? ›

TurboTax offers some of the best tax preparation software on the market. Use TurboTax Deluxe if you make your money through W-2 employment and intend to take line-item deductions instead of the standard deduction. Use TurboTax Premier if you have investment income or losses.

Who is TurboTax main competitor? ›

The best TurboTax alternative is FreeTaxUSA. It offers tax filing at zero or minimal charges. Plus, it gives many options for tax deductions that most of the software offered at much higher prices. Other alternatives include H&R Block, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Credit Karma Tax, Liberty Tax, and IRS.

What is the best tax form for seniors? ›

Form 1040-SR is available as an optional alternative to using Form 1040 for taxpayers who are age 65 or older. Form 1040-SR uses the same schedules and instructions as Form 1040 does.

Why do I have to use TurboTax premium? ›

If you sold any investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, etc.) then you'll have to file a Schedule D – which also means you'll need TurboTax Premium. If you received a Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), which you would get if you are in a partnership, that's another reason you'll need TurboTax Premium.

Can I use TurboTax free edition if I am retired? ›

Retired persons can use TurboTax. You can report pension income using TurboTax using every edition, including the Free Edition. If you don't want or need additional services, you must decline whenever prompted.

How do I avoid paying TurboTax fees? ›

Pay upfront using a credit or debit card instead of choosing to have the fees deducted from your federal refund to avoid that $39.99 fee.

How many times can you use TurboTax desktop? ›

In the CD/Download version of TurboTax, you can prepare as many federal returns as you want. Up to five can be e-filed.

How many times can I download TurboTax desktop? ›

TurboTax Home and Business 2022 Federal +E-File and State software can be installed and activated on up to 5 different computers per the TurboTax Desktop End User License Agreement.

What is the Intuit TurboTax controversy? ›

The $141 million settlement, which also includes residents in Washington, D.C., stems from a 2019 ProPublica report that found Intuit relied on deceptive tactics to steer low-income tax filers away from federally supported free services for which they qualified and into a product that charged a fee to file tax returns.

Is TurboTax just as good as an accountant? ›

The Bottom Line

The choice between TurboTax vs. a CPA when preparing your returns is often based on time, money and financial complexity. Both are good options, but most investors favor one or the other based on their personal needs and comfort level.

What is cheaper TurboTax or H&R Block? ›

While H&R Block is cheaper than TurboTax, it's more expensive than other DIY tax-filing options, such as TaxSlayer and TaxAct, if you don't qualify for the free option.

Do tax professionals use TurboTax? ›

TurboTax is only licensed for personal use, and it is not compliant with IRS regulations for paid preparers. Intuit offers ProSeries, ProConnect, and Lacerte Tax software, which are IRS-compliant for tax professionals who are filing multiple returns.

How do I know if my accountant filed my taxes correctly? ›

Check your contract

Most reputable tax preparers will have you sign an engagement letter that outlines, among other things, what happens if there's an error on the return, says Cindy Hockenberry, the director of tax research and government relations for the National Association of Tax Professionals.

How hard is it to do your taxes on TurboTax? ›

Whether you're an experienced tax preparer or have little knowledge of tax law beyond knowing you need to file, TurboTax makes tax filing easy by walking you through the process with interview-style questions and options for live, on-screen support when needed.

Why is TurboTax being investigated by IRS? ›

The Federal Trade Commission started investigating Intuit too, looking into the company's allegedly deceptive marketing practices. Ultimately, Intuit was found to have tricked millions of Americans into paying to file their taxes when they should have been able to do so for free.

What is the last month rule for TurboTax? ›

Last-month rule.

If you are an eligible individual on the first day of the last month of your tax year (December 1 for most taxpayers), you are considered to be an eligible individual for the entire year, so long as you remain an eligible individual during the testing period as discussed below.

What is the difference between TurboTax Deluxe and TurboTax Premier? ›

TurboTax offers some of the best tax preparation software on the market. Use TurboTax Deluxe if you make your money through W-2 employment and intend to take line-item deductions instead of the standard deduction. Use TurboTax Premier if you have investment income or losses.

How long does TurboTax online keep tax returns? ›

If you use our CD or download product, you can store a copy of your return on your computer and if you use our online product, you'll be able to access your return online as many times as you like for three years. Let an expert do your taxes for you, start to finish with TurboTax Live Full Service.

What records should be kept for 7 years? ›

Section 286 of the Corporations Act requires financial records to be kept for at least seven years after the transactions covered by the records are complete.

Is there any reason to keep old tax returns? ›

You typically have three years to amend an issue on your tax returns, which means you'll want to keep those records for at least that long. Retaining your tax returns can also simplify your next filing. For many taxpayers, their income and taxes change very little from year to year.

Why is TurboTax charging me $120? ›

Why is TurboTax charging me $120? If you are charged $120 you are most likely using TurboTax Deluxe for both your Federal and state tax filing and as such you are charged fees for both.

Which tax preparer gets you the biggest refund? ›

Which tax software provider gets the largest refund? Generally TurboTax and H&R block provide the largest refund!

Why did TurboTax charge me $150? ›

You appear to be using Online Deluxe Edition, which is a paid version--$60 for Federal and $50 for state, and if you choose to pay the fees out of your Federal refund, there is an additional $40 service fee ($45 for California filers.) So if you chose those 3 things, that would account for your $150 in fees.

How much does TurboTax cost 2023? ›

TurboTax Plan Prices
Products OfferedPriceAdditional State Fees
Free EditionFreeFree
Deluxe$59 and Up$59 and Up Per State
Premier$89 and Up$59 and Up Per State
Self-Employed$119 and Up$59 and Up Per State
Jun 1, 2023

Is it worth adding Max to TurboTax? ›

For around $50 TurboTax offers you additional peace of mind in the event of an IRS audit or theft of identity. Personally, I think MAX is worth considering, especially if you have complex taxes and potential red flags. Either way, I hope your tax year is relatively painless and you don't get audited.

Can TurboTax online be used by multiple users? ›

Install and activate on up to five computers owned by you (at home or at work) and only to prepare, print and/or e-file your own federal and state taxes. One State product via download is included with your TurboTax software. Availability of state forms varies by state.

What disqualifies you from earned income credit? ›

For the EITC, we don't accept: Individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) Adoption taxpayer identification numbers (ATIN) Social Security numbers on Social Security cards that have the words, "Not Valid for Employment," on them.

How do I get a $10000 tax refund 2023? ›

How to Get the Biggest Tax Refund in 2023
  1. Select the right filing status.
  2. Don't overlook dependent care expenses.
  3. Itemize deductions when possible.
  4. Contribute to a traditional IRA.
  5. Max out contributions to a health savings account.
  6. Claim a credit for energy-efficient home improvements.
  7. Consult with a new accountant.
Jan 24, 2023

Is it worth it to buy TurboTax Deluxe? ›

TurboTax Deluxe could be worth it if you want to itemize your deductions and maximize your tax refund. And though TurboTax is pricier than other alternatives on the market, its user-friendly interface and expert support make it a software worth investing in during this tax season.

How much does it cost to upgrade TurboTax Deluxe to Premier? ›

TurboTax Premier is the next upgrade from Deluxe. It will cost you $89 for a federal filing, plus another $54 per state return.

What is the difference between TurboTax free and deluxe? ›

The Deluxe edition of TurboTax is designed to calculate line-item tax credits and deductions. With the Free Edition, you can only take the standard deduction and any above-the-line deductions and credits. TurboTax Deluxe lets you take itemized deductions and below-the-line credits.

What's the difference between TurboTax and TurboTax Premier? ›

Both TurboTax Premier and TurboTax Deluxe offer features to help taxpayers get their documents in order before the tax-filing deadline. While Deluxe lets you know if you're eligible for more than 350 tax deductions, Premier adds features to help you account for investment, crypto, and rental income.

Is Intuit TurboTax the same as TurboTax? ›

When you create an account to use TurboTax, you're actually creating an Intuit account. You can use this account to access all of Intuit's products including TurboTax, Mint, and QuickBooks with the same User ID and password.


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