TurboTax: online vs download

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deanmoriarty
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Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:19 am

TurboTax: online vs download

Post by deanmoriarty » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:59 pm

Hello,

For 2018, I have a more than usual complicated tax situation, which involves recouping significant AMT credit paid in 2017 due to ISO exercise, since the law changed just this year and the higher exemption should benefit me. Other stuff is a few dozen brokerage transactions (TLH), sell of employer stocks (RSU) and sell of previous employer stocks (acquired via ISO, so long term capital gain treatment).

I’ve been a TurboTax online user for a decade now, but was wondering if I should maybe switch to the download version this year, since I’ve heard it allows me to peek at the forms?

I’ve done my due diligence around AMT credits so I know what to expect, I just want the tax software to be reliable.

What would you recommend? Also, with the download version would I have to reimport all my data into the software (e.g. carryover losses for state and federal, ...)? With the online one that’s all taken care of and usually I just double check against the previous year number.

I’m looking at the Premier edition in both cases and the cost difference between online and download is absolutely not a distinguish factor, I am looking for reliability.

Thanks

Carl53
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by Carl53 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:07 am

I have used the CD version for 6 years and can confirm that it does allow one to preview forms, which I find quite useful. I'm not sure why I went with CD instead of download, other than habit and hoping to continue to get access to all of the features I'd become accustomed to.

RickBoglehead
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by RickBoglehead » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:30 am

OP asks about online vs. download, not CD vs. download. To my understanding, there is zero difference between the CD and download.

Gray
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by Gray » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:20 am

I’ve used TT from 1995 to present, and online only from about 2007 to present without issues. I upload my return artifacts to the TT vault as a (just in case) backup for my existing archive. TT has different online license tiers for different capabilities based on your needs.

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FiveK
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by FiveK » Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:52 am

There are some things the download version will do that the online version (same nominal version) will not.

E.g., see Fidelity free Turbotax - Page 3 - Bogleheads.org and a few posts following that.

Don't know if that will affect your specific situation.

deanmoriarty
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by deanmoriarty » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:20 pm

Thanks everyone.

Looks like this year I'll be trying the download version so I can scrutinize more carefully the forms.

Gray
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by Gray » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:50 pm

With the online version, you can print as a pdf all the forms and worksheets before you file. In other words,you can scrutinize the forms and worksheets.

The only difference is that if you find something on the form you need to change, you have to make that change using TurboTax’s easy to use interface vs making the change directly on the forms.

I don’t trust myself to understand the nuances of the forms anyway, hence my preference for the online version which provides contextual help as you enter data.

deanmoriarty
Posts: 177
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by deanmoriarty » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:24 am

Gray wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:50 pm
With the online version, you can print as a pdf all the forms and worksheets before you file. In other words,you can scrutinize the forms and worksheets.

The only difference is that if you find something on the form you need to change, you have to make that change using TurboTax’s easy to use interface vs making the change directly on the forms.

I don’t trust myself to understand the nuances of the forms anyway, hence my preference for the online version which provides contextual help as you enter data.
It seems like another boglehead reported an issue with using TT online that required him/her to fix it manually, actually related to AMT credits which is the part I'll be concerned about the most this year: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=263108&p=4204942#p4198590

SlowMovingInvestor
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by SlowMovingInvestor » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:41 am

I would never even consider online for security reasons (maybe overblown, but that's my feeling).

Also, I don't think you can run what-if scenarios easily in online. Say comparing MFJ vs MFS, or complicated multi-state issues that require using multiple returns.

deanmoriarty
Posts: 177
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:19 am

Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by deanmoriarty » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:44 pm

Ended up buying the Premier on Amazon today, the download version. Download link appeared immediately.

Coming from almost a decade of TT online, I'm pleasantly surprised, the workflow of the desktop edition is so much better, in particular:

- Being able to create multiple profiles and comparing them is very valuable (to me at least)
- The ability to jump back and forth between forms and interview mode makes it very easy to understand the process

This afternoon I was able to check how Turbotax adjusts a big long term capital gain I'll have this year when doing schedule D AMT vs regular schedule D (since there's an AMT adjustment due to ISO), and being able to see their calculations on the form match my manually calculated ones gave me a peace of mind. I'm pretty sure the online version wouldn't show those details until the very very end, if at all.

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tooluser
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Re: TurboTax: online vs download

Post by tooluser » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:53 pm

I've been using TT on CD for years now. I have never seriously contemplated going to the online version because I am always disappointed with online versions of anything that is available offline. Google Docs? No thank you. Same goes for full internet version of anything compared to a phone app. I want full control! Saving $20 isn't worth it to me.

Download vs CD is close enough though. I have found that works well for games (Steam).

Phone apps and online e-mail are great for monitoring things while traveling.
A time and place for everything.
"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness." -- Albert Einstein, just before he won the Nobel Prize.

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