TurboTax Review 2023: Choosing Between Free or Paid

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Quick Take: TurboTax business and personal programs can streamline the process of filling out and submitting tax returns. Taxpayers can use TurboTax to file their tax returns electronically, helping them to get their refunds faster. TurboTax offers free and paid software to assist taxpayers across the country in filing both state and federal tax returns, with paid software including additional features for more complicated returns.
  • Pricing
  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Customer Service
How did we calculate this?


  • Offers free federal tax return services for W-2 employees
  • Can pay for the service from your refund
  • Straightforward format makes filing easy for new taxpayers


  • State returns are not included with most free versions
  • Free version is only able to cover W-2 income
  • No professional support included with free software

TurboTax Overview 

Intuit TurboTax is a tax preparation software and online service that helps taxpayers file both federal and state taxes. TurboTax works by guiding taxpayers through a simple question-and-answer process that allows them to submit annual taxes without familiarizing themselves with the full tax code. 

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While TurboTax offers a free option for those with basic W-2 income, those who are self-employed, stock traders, crypto investors, and anyone who wants to itemize deductions will need to invest in TurboTax’s more advanced paid options. For additional assistance, TurboTax also offers live help from a tax professional with paid packages. 

Key Features

The features that you have access to when filing your taxes through TurboTax vary depending on which version you’re using. There are multiple paid versions of TurboTax designed to streamline filing for different income sources, deductions and credits taxpayers may qualify for.


TurboTax’s free version is truly free, offering very basic return services for $0. However, not everyone will be able to file through the free return system. Taxpayers who only need to file a 1040 return and who are taking the standard deduction qualify for a free federal return through TurboTax. Filers who are self-employed, collect income from investments or rental properties, or who want to itemize deductions will pay between $39 to $89 for self-filing software.


You can jumpstart work on your TurboTax return by importing information from either your last year’s TurboTax return or a PDF of last year’s return you completed using other tax software. You can even upload a photo of your W-2 and TurboTax will populate your return with the information.

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While the free edition will walk you through the basics, the paid versions offer features for crypto investors, freelancers and small business owners to make sure you are getting the most money back. If you run into any problems, you can get assistance with the product of your choice or turn your return over to a pro to complete.

TurboTax also offers a mobile app that lets you complete your returns using any device, including your phone.

Ease of Use

One area where all of TurboTax’s versions shine is ease of use. Customers can follow a simple format to determine which deductions and credits they qualify for. For example, TurboTax may ask a question like “Do you have any dependents?” The answer will affect the results of the return filed, ensuring that users get the refund they qualify for

TurboTax guarantees that customers will not be required to pay for their filing until they’re satisfied with their credit and deduction access. It even offers a 100% accurate calculations guarantee, which covers your fees if a mistake on your TurboTax return gets you in trouble with the IRS.

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Customer Service

TurboTax offers two add-on services for getting expert guidance on tax questions. TurboTax’s paid versions include live assistance from tax professionals, who can connect with you and provide unlimited assistance as you file. Customers looking for additional assistance can utilize TurboTax’s Assisted Filing service, where a tax expert will file on your behalf for an additional fee. TurboTax’s live online assistance is included with a paid package, while assisted services come with an additional fee depending on your situation. Free versions of TurboTax do not include filing assistance.

How TurboTax Stands Out

Some of the features that help TurboTax stand out from other tax preparation software include: 

  • 100% guarantee against fees levied by the IRS for incorrect filing.
  • Completely free version for W-2 employees.
  • Options for live assistance filing from tax professionals included in paid versions.

Comparable Options

TurboTax is not the only tax preparation software available. Companies like H&R Block and Cash App offer their own software and online filing services that have similar functionality to TurboTax. 

TurboTax vs. H&R Block

Like TurboTax, H&R Block offers both a series of paid filing options as well as a free option for basic returns. While H&R’s paid versions are a bit more affordable than TurboTax’s choices, they do not include complimentary professional assistance. 

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TurboTax vs. Cash App

A new competitor in the tax realm, Cash App now offers 100% free tax filing options for simple returns on both the federal and state levels. While Cash App’s tax software is free for everyone — even those with more complicated tax situations — it does not provide guarantees or assistance from experts like TurboTax.

Who Is TurboTax Best For?

TurboTax’s free or paid services might be right for filers who: 

  • Have simple tax situations and only earn W-2 income. 
  • Have filed with TurboTax in the past and want to directly upload their previous return for streamlined filing. 
  • Want professional assistance when filing. 

Final Take

TurboTax offers a comprehensive range of options for a variety of tax situations. While its free service is only available for very simple returns, affordable filing options are available with easy question-and-answer formats that make filing your taxes a simple process. 

TurboTax FAQ

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about TurboTax.
  • Is Intuit TurboTax legitimate?
    • Yes, TurboTax is legitimate and guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
  • How do I know which version is best for me?
    • The TurboTax website lists the products and what tax situations they're appropriate for. If you select the wrong product initially, you can upgrade without losing the information you've already entered.
  • How much does it cost to file via TurboTax?
    • It costs between $0 and $89 to file via TurboTax's do-it-yourself software, depending on the source of income on the return.
  • When can I file my taxes for 2022 on TurboTax?
    • Taxpayers can begin filing their taxes for 2022 on TurboTax as soon as they have their income information from employers.
  • When can I expect my refund for 2022?
    • Once you e-file your return through TurboTax, it typically takes the IRS 24-48 hours to accept it, after which the IRS processes your payment. For 2022 taxes, most taxpayers are expected to get their refund within 21 days of filing, according to the results of previous years.
  • Is TurboTax really free?
    • TurboTax's free version is truly free and offers very basic return services.
  • Is TurboTax just as good as H&R Block?
    • Yes, TurboTax and H&R Block both offer a series of paid filing options as well as a free option for basic returns. While H&R's paid versions are a bit more affordable than TurboTax's choices, they do not include complimentary professional assistance.
  • Is there a downside to TurboTax?
    • A potential downside to TurboTax is the cost. While TurboTax offers a free option for those with basic W-2 income, anyone with more complex situations will need to invest in TurboTax's more advanced paid options.
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Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Jan. 31, 2023. 

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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