I just received a note from the PR folks at Intuit (TurboTax) letting me know that they are offering free tax advice to their customers. I guess it is time to start thinking about 2011 taxes. I have been using computer tax software to prepare my taxes since 1996, and I plan to do so again this year. Once again, the two main contenders are TurboTax and H&R Block. I have not yet decided which of these software products I will use.
Anyway, the point of this post is that TurboTax is offering this free tax advice service to registered TurboTax users from 12/1/2011 to 4/1/2012. Of course, the first question that comes to my mind is what constitutes a "registered TurboTax user"? On the TurboTax website, you can register and start your tax return for free. You are not charged until you decide to use their product for filing. In fact, TurboTax offers 1040EZ and simple tax return preparation for free. So, I would guess that anybody could be entitled to this free tax advice.
This is a departure from the service that they offered last year which allowed you to submit a tax question through their website: www.freetaxquestion.com. (Note that this website appears now to be disabled.) Any questions about the free tax advice offer should be directed to TurboTax Support.
The main thing that I like about their new offer is that it is valid until the beginning of April, when most people will need the advice. Previously, TurboTax limited their free advice service until the end of January. Few people are organized enough to know what tax question you want to ask before then. After January 2011, the price of their free advice increased to $39.95.
Getting back to tax preparation software, I have used both TurboTax and H&R Block to prepare my taxes. Without going into a lot of detail, the end result of using both programs was 100% identical. So, my recommendation is if you have used TurboTax in the past and were happy with the end result, you should probably stick with that choice. On the other hand, if you used H&R Block At Home (or other tax software) and found that to be satisfactory, you probably won't gain much in switching to TurboTax. I have found that TurboTax usually ends up costing a little bit more than the equivalent competitive tax software.
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