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Intuit Turbo Tax Online

by on April 20, 2011

Description of Product/Solution

Turbo Tax is an online, cloud based tax management system owned by Intuit aimed at providing an affordable and accurate tax preparation service to the general public.  Turbo Tax offers step by step guidance through the tax return process.  The service is geared toward personal and small business tax returns.  Within these categories, Turbo Tax offer different levels of service based on the needs of the client.  At this basic level ($34.95), Turbo Tax helps users fill out and file simple forms such as the 1040EZ.  On the more advanced level ($99.95), Turbo Tax will help you find industry specific deductions for your small business and recommend a depreciation method that will benefit your company the most.  Returns are stored on the cloud for easy access if they are needed for reference in future years.

Features – Pros

Step by Step Instruction – Intuit has been in the accounting sector for many years, and it shows with their detailed knowledge of tax law and accounting used in TurboTax.com. Users are guided through the tax preparation process “hand in hand” in order to maximize deductions and ensure accuracy.

100% Accuracy Guarantee – TurboTax.com guarantees their work to be 100% accurate when used properly.  If the IRS assess the user a fee or penalty, Turbo Tax will cover the cost of the fee and interest.

Live Support – Real time help is available via chat from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm PST.  Turbo Tax also boasts a support forum where other users and Turbo Tax employees answer questions one might have while filing a return.

E-file – Since Turbo Tax is already an online resource, it only makes sense that users can easily e-file their returns once they are completed.  E-filing a tax return means a faster processing time on any payment or refund issued.

Audit Support – If a user follows all the guidelines of Turbo Tax and is audited by the IRS, Turbo Tax will provide you with guidance during the audit process.  If a customer is assessed any fees or penalties, Turbo Tax will pay them.

Features – Cons

Security -  Any online service that uses personal information always has a risk of being hacked.  Turbo Tax’s security measures are comparable to other large financial institutions, but the risk of personal data being stolen still exists.

Impersonal – As much as Turbo Tax may try, it will never know all the expenses and potential tax write offs a user can have.  Meeting with a tax professional will usually result in a more accurate tax return.  Tax professionals know what tax codes and deductions will apply to different people which is an area that Turbo Tax will always lag behind in.

Product/Solution Benefit – What problem does is solve?

Turbo Tax solves a few different problems for the average consumer.  The application reduces costs for the majority of its users.  Individuals filling with Turbo Tax can submit a 1040 form for only $34.95 saving hundreds over using a professional tax preparer.  Turbo Tax also manages all past returns by storing them on the cloud.  This eliminates the need for filing and keeping track of past returns by the user.  By offering expert advice, Turbo Tax also cuts down on the number of incorrectly filled tax returns.

Product/Solution Benefit – What problems does is create?

Turbo Tax shares the same problems as other cloud programs.  Data can be lost or stolen which can reveal a user’s personal information.  Also, by letting non-experienced people submit tax returns, the chance of a incorrect return being filled is increased.  Turbo Tax does its best to thwart this fact, but human nature still wins at the end of the day.

Comparison to Other Products in the Industry

Other companies have entered the market to compete with Turbo Tax.  H&R Block has a program called TaxCut that has the same functionality as Turbo Tax.  It is missing a few features though such as automatically importing past returns.  Another competitor is TaxAct.  This is a basic, striped down tax preparation application.  It costs less, but user interfaces and support suffer.

Product Impact – How has it changed the industry?

Turbo Tax has affected the tax industry in two ways.  First, it has created a large market for people to complete their own taxes from the comfort of their own home.  Second, with the rise in do-it-yourself tax preparers, the professional tax preparation market has taken a significant hit.   In response to this, companies (like H&R Block) are entering the cloud tax preparation market to regain some of their lost business.

http://turbotax.intuit.com/

References

Block, S. (2009, March 9). Taking TurboTax, TaxCut and TaxAct for a test drive – USATODAY.com. News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USATODAY.com. Retrieved April 18, 2011, from http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2009-02-19-tax-preparation-software_N.htm

TurboTax® – Personal Income Taxes, Income Tax Returns, Tax Return, File Taxes Online. (2011). TurboTax® Tax Preparation Software, FREE Tax Filing, Efile Taxes, Income Tax Returns. Retrieved April 18, 2011, from http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/

Submitted by Adam Jones

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