capsule review

TurboTax Online Premier Investments

At a Glance
  • Intuit TurboTax Online Premier Investments

    PCWorld Rating

A mirror image of its desktop software counterpart, TurboTax Online Premier Investments soothes many headaches for both tax dunces and advanced users. We loved its comprehensive, detailed interview even though it meant answering several questions that did not apply to us.

TurboTax's interface and interview process is understandable and comprehensive. Tax terms are clearly defined, and "Guide Me" buttons helped us determine what to claim. Once we input information, it was linked to other relevant documents so we didn't have to enter it again. When we keyed in the registration fee of a car used partly for a freelance business, TurboTax automatically included the nonbusiness portion on our itemized deductions. It also gave us a heads-up on relevant tax breaks we possibly missed.

New this year are the Deduction Maximizer Center, which let us scan more than 350 deduction and credit opportunities, and BasisPro, which determines the historical cost bases of multiple stock transactions. Also new in the federal summary were results of what we entered compared to what we would get in deductions, and an explanation of the difference.

TurboTax was definitely our favorite online tax service, but at $76 for both one federal and one state return, it's pricey--and it still has room for improvement. We couldn't view specific tax forms, as we could on the desktop version of TurboTax (although the online version did line up our tax data in the same order as they appeared on our finished 1040). Also, it provided no indicator to help us gauge how far along we were in the process, so we weren't sure if the 18th question about income was at the end or just midway through the section.

As with the desktop version of TurboTax, we could transfer financial data only from Quicken 2005 or later, making our three-year-old Quicken obsolete for tax-prep purposes.

The service does have one more point in its favor: Even though Intuit says Online Premier Investments is not for small-business users, it includes a thorough Schedule C interview for sole proprietors. Unless you're an entrepreneur with a heavy-duty tax situation, you can save the $25 premium for the Home and Business version and stick with Premier.

Vanessa Richardson

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Easy to understand; thorough explanations.
    • Great new deduction and cost-basis tools.

    Cons

    • Pricey; Intuit hawks unnecessary upgrade.
    • Quicken imports limited; no progress bar.
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