A Review of TurboTax Home and Business Federal and State Edition

When I first started my business six years ago, I was concerned that having to file a Schedule C tax return for my business would lead to a much more complicated and time consuming tax preparation process. I needed to find a solution that would allow me to focus the majority of my time on running my business and not worrying what I was going to do when tax season arrived. In the past, I had used the services of some of the major tax preparation companies but I quickly found that they were just as likely as I was to miss an important deduction or make a mistake that could be costly down the road. When it comes to dealing with the IRS, I like to make sure that it is handled personally and done right the first time. After doing quite a bit of research and reading about a number of potential tax software programs, the solution I finally arrived at was TurboTax Home and Business Federal and State Edition with Free E-file. This program had all of the functionality I needed to handle both my business and personal federal income tax return including the flexibility to handle special individual situations like Schedule K forms and others. Here are a few of the highlights that make this program an excellent choice come tax time:

1. Step by Step Guides - Simple yes and no questions guide you through all of the details of your tax return and identify key areas of focus along the way. It provides the functionality to give you detailed explanations of items you encounter along the way that you may not be familiar with. In the event that you do reach a point where you are unable to proceed, integrated customer support provides the ability to have specific questions answered by a tax expert. One of my favorite features of the program allows you to save your return at any point and come back to the exact same spot you left off to finish when you are ready.

2. Finding Deductions - Their visual interface breaks deductions down into categories and identifies them with an icon so you can quickly scan across each category and identify ones where you may qualify for one or more tax deductions. The system uses the same simple interview format to determine your eligibility to claim well over 300 potential deductions and tax credits. Did you or your business donate to charity this year? TurboTax handles that as well and determines the deductible percentages for any qualified charitable donations you made throughout the year. When it comes to your business, the system can identify key deductions common to your industry or business type making it much easier to avoid missing anything that could save you money. The software does all of the complex calculations for you to arrive at the amount you can legally deduct for any business related expense you enter, all without you having to ever read a single page of IRS tax code!

3. Investments - If you have investment income from activities such as real estate, stock and bond sales or purchases, TurboTax Home and Business makes it easy to enter your transactions and in some cases, import them directly from your brokerage or financial institution. One key feature I like here is the ability of the program to manage items that involve a carryover from a prior year return. For example, if you sustained stock market losses in excess of $3,000 last year, the program will automatically identify the situation and import the required data from your old return.

4. Error Check and Audit Support - Since it is a well known fact that filing a Schedule C with your tax return and claiming deductions for a home office can increase your risk of being audited, it is extremely important to make absolute certain that there are no mistakes on your return that could cause any additional examination of your return. TurboTax has a great automated error check system that looks for key mistakes and will compare your return against other taxpayers. The system then provides you with a visual audit risk meter and summary so you can see how likely your tax return is to trigger an audit. In the event that your return ever did get selected for an audit, you can download a full audit support center to guide you through exactly what you need to handle it properly.

5. E-file - Electronic filing of your tax return is included with the program and provides you with one-click transmission of your federal and state returns to the proper location. Best of all, you don't have to go stand in line at the post office or worry about certified mail or delivery confirmation. Once you have submitted your return, you get an automated confirmation that it was delivered and another once your return has been accepted so you can have the peace of mind of knowing that you really are finished with your taxes for the year! If you are lucky enough to be getting a refund, the program supports direct deposit into the bank account of your choice and you can have your refund in as little as 8 days.

6. Tax Planning - When you are finished with your return, you can examine areas where you could potentially do something different to minimize your tax liability and do some financial planning for next year. The system can generate several different scenarios and offer personalized recommendations based on your own personal situation to help you lower your tax liability or get a bigger refund when you file your next return. You might just be amazed at how much money you could save with a little careful financial planning.

If you need a workable solution for handling your home and business tax return this year, I highly recommend TurboTax Home and Business Federal and State with E-file. The program is very easy to use; even if you have never done your own taxes before and will help you complete your return with minimal hassle. Give it a try and you will see exactly why this is my number one choice when it comes to income tax software!