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TurboTax for iPad 2012

*Est. $30 and up to file (free download)
Reviewed
March 2013
by ConsumerSearch
TurboTax for iPad 2012

Pros
  • Free phone or chat help from experts
  • Very similar to online version
Cons
  • Charges aren't revealed until the end
  • Photo-snap function sometimes inaccurate
  • Can't switch between tablet app and computer
  • Importing last year's return is tedious

Bottom Line

All TurboTax online programs are tablet-compatible, but if you want to work offline, you'll need to download TurboTax for iPad 2012. Just as capable as the top-rated TurboTax computer software in tests, it lets you tap and swipe your way through your tax return. TurboTax for iPad has a tedious side, however, and doesn't reveal how much you'll pay until the very end. TaxACT Deluxe Tablet App 2012 (*Est. $10) works better, and is our Best Reviewed pick for doing taxes on your tablet.

Ease Of Use

Simple to use, except when transferring last year's tax info. TurboTax acts like a tax preparer: It asks you easy-to-understand questions, then fills out the right forms and does all the math for you. Other brands work the same way, but reviews say TurboTax's questions are a snap. If you get stuck, its built-in help is "consistently the best," says Kathy Yakal at PCMag.com. You can also call or web-chat with a TurboTax tax expert, which is unlimited and free. Rival TaxACT offers similar free help, but H&R Block At Home limits you to one free chat or email session.

Like all TurboTax software, reviews say the iPad version is easy to navigate. It even lets you jump from topic to topic, unlike H&R Block at Home Free Edition for iPad. Transferring last year's return into the app is a challenge, however, involving a USB cable and lots of syncing and clicking around in iTunes. Importing your W-2s, 1098s and 1099s is easier, working just like regular TurboTax online. You can even snap a photo of your W-2 with your iPad's camera and import it, but it may not always be correct.

Accuracy

W-2 photo-snap feature flubs and more. When the Los Angeles Times' Salvador Rodriguez does his taxes with TurboTax for iPad, he makes costly mistakes. At first, everything looks fine. The app is "helpful, with simple language and a clean interface," and it finds him $300 more in refunds than H&R Block's iPad app. But just in case, he goes to an H&R Block office, where the preparer finds him a $200 bigger refund than TurboTax for iPad had. "She also found an error that she said would have led the IRS to kick the return back to me," he says.

Unfortunately, photo-snapping your W-2 can also introduce errors. It's an easy way to import the info, but it's not always correct, warns Macworld's Jeffery Battersby. "If you choose to use this feature you'll always want to double-check that your financial data is entered correctly," he says. Several user reviews at iTunes report the same problem. Plenty of customers use the app error-free, though, as does Yakal. If you do make a mistake and the TurboTax app catches it in its Error Check at the end, it's now easy to fix right on the screen, she says. Last year, the app forced her to scour through her return from the beginning to find the error.

Features

Costs aren't revealed until the end. The good news is, TurboTax for iPad can handle almost all tax situations, from simple to complex. The bad news is, you won't know how much it costs until you're done. It's a weird way to do pricing, several iTunes users complain. iTunes lists the TurboTax app as a free download, with a range of filing fees from $30 for "deluxe federal" to $75 for "home and business." You find out which fee applies only after you finish your taxes and TurboTax assigns a fee based on the forms you used. One reviewer says, "Normally I wouldn't mind paying a fee. $30 is not that much. However, having it sprung on you at the last minute...is unacceptable." State prep and filing costs $37 extra.

TurboTax's regular online versions tell you their pricing up front, and they're all compatible with iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and Chromebook; the app is iPad-only. You'll need to be comfortable sending your personal and financial information over the Internet, although the app lets you work on your taxes offline. TurboTax won't let you switch back and forth between the app and the online versions. While transferring last year's return is tedious, TurboTax for iPad can import the same financial documents as the online version. Yet it can't import from Quicken or QuickBooks like TurboTax CD/download software can.

Unlike its competitors, TurboTax charges $60 for Audit Defense. If you buy it before you're audited, TurboTax will handle all of your audit correspondence and scheduling, attend appointments on your behalf and defend your return for seven years. TaxACT's similar service costs $40. H&R Block's app includes it for free.

Our Sources

1. PCMag.com

Review Credibility: Excellent Yakal tests TurboTax for iPad and likes it better than H&R Block's iPad app. In another review, however, she gives TaxACT's tablet app her Editors' Choice award. Unlike the TaxACT app, TurboTax's app works only with iPad, not Android, and it won't let you switch back and forth between your iPad and your computer.

Review: TurboTax for iPad, Kathy Yakal, Feb. 20, 2013

2. Macworld

Review Credibility: Excellent TurboTax for iPad beats H&R Block's iPad app here, with Battersby giving it 4.5 stars out of 5. He finds only one real flaw in his test: The iPad camera doesn't always snap an accurate photo of W-2s, so you have to double-check that the information imports correctly.

Review: Review: TurboTax 2012 for iPad, Jeffery Battersby, Feb. 28, 2013

3. Los Angeles Times

Review Credibility: Very Good Rodriguez does his taxes with iPad apps from TurboTax and H&R Block, and the former gives him a $300 bigger federal refund. But when he goes to an H&R Block office, the preparer finds him a refund of $200 more due to mistakes he made with the TurboTax for iPad software and an error that would have made the IRS reject his return.

Review: Testing the TurboTax and H&R Block Tax Apps, Salvador Rodriguez, Feb. 23, 2013

4. iTunes

Review Credibility: Good With more than 200 user ratings posted for the latest version and more than 5,000 for all versions, TurboTax for iPad maintains a near perfect score here. Some users give it low marks because they don't find out their filing costs until they finish their taxes. Others say the program crashed.

Review: TurboTax 2012 for iPad, Contributors to iTunes, As of March 2013

Tax Preparation Software Runners Up:

TurboTax for iPad 2012 *Est. $30 and up to file (free download)

2 picks including: Los Angeles Times, Macworld…

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