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Turbo Tax through online banking – a review

I’ve used Turbo Tax for the annual tax filing ritual for the last several years. Typically I purchase a CD from Costco each January because they have a nice coupon and it’s cheaper than buying directly from Intuit. This year, I decided to explore the option for Turbo Tax online as a link from within online banking at my credit union. My overall experience was very good, but there was one glitch that provides a valuable lesson for support organizations.

Determine the cost.

My first step was to compare the total cost of using the online version through the credit union to purchasing the disks at Costco. Total cost includes federal version (I use Deluxe Version), federal filing fee, state version, and state filing fee. When I compared the two, the Costco route was about $2 cheaper. But I would eat that in tax and gas money getting over there, so I considered the expense a wash and decided to go with the Turbo Tax route.

Pay when you complete.

One of the first things I noticed about the online version is that you don’t pay until you complete the tax preparation process and are satisfied. Great feature Intuit!  With that said, it was also where I created a problem for myself.

I thought I would explore the online experience quickly to see if matched the CD version so I followed the link from within online banking. It asked me if I had an existing Turbo Tax online account. I answered no, so it created one. On the opening page, it asked me if I had 2009 tax data to import whether online or from a file on my computer. I did have a 2009 file, but I wasn’t ready for that yet so I just moved ahead in the steps without it.  I quickly saw that the online interface was similar, if not the same, as what I experienced when I used the disc version.

Finding a bug.

When I returned the next week to complete the taxes, I initiated a session and navigated to the home screen to start the process again. I indicated that I wanted to load my 2009 data from a file. Unfortunately, it would never prompt me for the location of the file. Instead, it continued to automatically load my name and data as I had entered it during my trial run. Automatically loading my data is a feature of the integration with online banking. However, the ability to load a 2009 file was not working now. It was skipping the step to prompt me for location and automatically assuming information from my account.

Turbo Tax support line was clueless.

I will say that Turbo Tax support in general is very good. I found an abundance of help articles through simple search in their online help panel. That’s an efficient process and it’s well done. However for this issue I had clearly found a bug. I needed to ask a live person if there was a work-around. The first gentlemen I spoke with said he didn’t know there was a Turbo Tax version that worked through online banking. He documented the problem and sent me to another department. After several tries, I finally explained to the next lady what was happening. I’m not sure she fully understood, but she did tell me that I had multiple accounts registered. Two of three account names were entirely numeric. One of those must have been from the automatic account creation on my first entry. The other account was something I had registered directly with Turbo Tax to test loading a 2009 tax file (which worked perfectly). She was not able to solve the problem though, and could only recommend to type everything again or use the account I had created manually.

Getting a reset.

Being the stubborn guy that I am, I had one more thing to try. I called my credit union and asked if they could reset my integration to Turbo Tax so that it didn’t auto-supply the account name that was created on my first entry. They did that.

On the next login, when prompted for an existing account with Turbo Tax online, I supplied the account I had created directly and it hooked my session to it.  Bingo. Now I had access to the 2009 tax data without having to rekey information that carries forward each year.

What is the business lesson here?

The support group at Intuit, while courteous and patient with me, didn’t understand how the integrated product worked from online banking. This is a key feature to understand because Intuit partners with many organizations to provide this service. It’s a convenience for the customer because it auto-loads certain information and typically contains a discount off list price from purchasing the service direct from Intuit. I don’t think my incident will make the bug list for Turbo Tax online because the two agents I spoke with never really acknowledged that what I was trying to do was supported.

Another year of taxes completed.

I did complete the process online this year and submitted my tax returns for federal and state. The process was almost identical to using the disc version. One nice thing was I didn’t have to wait for it to download updates.  So it looks like I’ll stick with the online version again next year.   Oh by the way. My total cost was about $62. That sounded pretty good when I found out how much a few of my friends payed to take their tax documents in to a tax preparation service shop.