Money at 30: Quickbooks TurboTax Self-Employed Tax Bundle Review
Well, I did it. For the second year in a row, I successfully completed my own tax return. After trying Credit Karma Tax last year, this time around I decided to upgrade my Quickbooks Self-Employed subscription to the Tax Bundle, entitling me to one free federal and state filing with TurboTax.
So how was my TurboTax experience? Let’s take a look at the Quickbooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle with TurboTax and whether or not it’s worth the price.
Quickbooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle features
Before I get into actually using TurboTax to file this year, I should back up and explain why I chose that option. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Quickbooks Self-Employed (QBSE) to help me keep track of my business expenses and estimate my quarterly tax payments. Having enjoyed my experience with that software so far, a few months ago, I figured it was time I tried out the Tax Bundle that not only enables you to pay your quarterly taxes through the Quickbooks Self-Employed site but also includes a federal and state filing for your annual tax return. Of course this option also comes with all of the same Quickbooks Self-Employed features, including mileage tracking, transaction categorization, federal quarterly tax estimates, and more.
Quarterly tax payments
I’ll admit that, before I really read up on what the Tax Bundle was, I kind of thought it was a ripoff. That’s because I mistakenly believed that the only benefit was that you could make estimated tax payments through Quickbooks. While that is convenient, it’s really not much of an upgrade considering you can make payments through Direct Pay or EFTPS. In fact, to activate payments in QBSE, you’ll need to set up an EFTPS account. Like I said, this is certainly a nice element of the Tax Bundle… but make no mistake that the TurboTax filing credit is the real perk.
Comparing the costs
The Quickbooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle comes at a cost of $7 more than the standard Quickbooks Self-Employed membership. That brings the regular cost up to $17 a month, although you can also try it for $12 a month using this link. Consider this $7 a month cost, a year’s worth of this upgrade comes out to $84.
Meanwhile, filing a federal return with TurboTax Self-Employed costs $120 and adding a state return is $44.99. Thus the Tax Bundle can be a great deal. That said, a deal is only a deal if the product for sale is quality — so how was my TurboTax experience?
My Experience with TurboTax Self-Employed
Getting set up
Off the bat, one of the aspects of using TurboTax I was really excited about was the ability to import data from Quickbooks. This was actually a feature I was looking for when back when my father was doing my taxes, which led me to discover it was reserved for Tax Bundle customers. Needless to say finally having access to such simplicity was exciting but there are some things to note about it.
When transferring your data over, it warns that you’ll only be able to do so once. In other words, you may want to double check that you’re up to date on all of your transactions in QBSE and that everything is labeled properly. However, if you do find an error, you can manually correct it in TurboTax. Me being me, I did find a few errors and adjustments I needed to make after transferring my Quickbooks data to TurboTax but correcting them was simple.
Another cool feature — and one I didn’t know about ahead of time — was the ability to upload my 2017 tax return to TurboTax as a jumping off point for this year’s return. To do this all I needed to do was upload a PDF. Similar functionality was also employed elsewhere to make filling out forms a cinch.
Walking through your return
As someone who’s only completed their own tax returns once before, I’m definitely still a novice. Thankfully I felt like TurboTax did a good job of walking me through each step and explaining it in a way I could understand. It also breaks your return down into different elements, such as income, deductions, health care, etc. This allowed me to focus on one aspect of my taxes at a time instead of skipping around.
At the same time, one minor issue I had with TurboTax was that fixing a small error would often mean going through several prompts instead of being able to go directly to the relevant input. I believe I had a similar complaint about Credit Karma Tax, so I guess this is just standard operating procedure. Nevertheless it did get on my nerves at times.
When I was completing my return I did run into one issue that I thought would prevent me from filing. Long story short, my 1095-A form for healthcare had some zeros on it but TurboTax wouldn’t allow these rows to be all zeros. Eventually I tried leaving these parts of the form blank instead but still got an error when I was attempting to finish up my filing.
After a few tries, I finally decided to try support. Within a couple of minutes, I received a call on my phone and was able to explain what the issue was. Up until this point, it all seemed pretty standard but what happened next was actually kind of cool.
The technician asked me to hit a combination of keys on my computer, which then provided me a code I could read to them. Once I did this, I could see the tech on my screen and they were able to highlight things on the screen. As luck would have it, I somehow added a second version of the form that was giving me problems and deleting that fixed things up. While I still had support on the line, they also made sure I didn’t have any other errors — only to find another. Thankfully this was another two-click fix and I was on my way.
I have to say that, the entire time I was working on my return in TurboTax, I was worried that I would end up getting a bill when I finally made it to the filing prompt. Yet this never happened as my total was always displayed as $0. They did provide a couple of opportunities to upgrade — in which case your total wouldn’t be $0 — but, if you stick with the basics, both your federal and state returns are included.
Final Thoughts on TurboTax and the Quickbooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle
Last year, I noted that I was pretty pleased with my Credit Karma Tax experience. While my stance hasn’t changed on that, I have to say that I felt more confident about my return while using TurboTax. Perhaps it was the extra year of experience under my belt, but I suspect that the formatting and explanations on TurboTax are superior. It also doesn’t hurt that importing my data from Quickbooks Self-Employed reduced some room for error.
To that point, I think the Quickbooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle is a good deal. Essentially you’re getting up to $165 in TurboTax product for about half price. It may not be as good as free but it is a reasonably priced option to be sure.
Given my experience filing my 2018 tax returns with TurboTax, I foresee myself sticking with the Quickbooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle throughout 2019 as well. From the ability to import my QBSE data to the tech support that helped solve my problem in no time, I have to say that I feel good about my decision to switch. Plus, for the record, I only ended up owing $45 on our federal return so I suppose Quickbooks’ estimates for my quarterly payments were pretty darn close as well. For all of those reasons, I think the service and the Tax Bundle are certainly worth the investment.
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Also published on Medium.