As my public service for the year, I’m going to explain these Intuit Turbo Tax products and the difference between them.
Turbo Tax Free is helpful to idiots who are too stupid to fill out a 1040EZ by themselves and don’t realize it takes only 5 minutes. Its entire purpose is to trick suckers into buying other things that cost a lot of money, like the Deluxe, Premier, Home and Business, electronic filing,, audit defense, etc. Most people who start out using Turbo Tax “Free” are going to end up paying for at least $50 worth of crap before they’re done. Many will wind up paying much more than that.
Now I’ll explain Freedom. For the last few years the Federal Government (that means the US taxpayers) have been subsidizing tax preparation software so that people can file for free. There is a list of products at http://www.freefile.irs.gov/ and these are actually free. More than 70% of tax payers qualify to use this program, including people with businesses and more complex taxes like the type Turbo Tax Deluxe or Home and Business would cover. You can read more about the qualifications at the IRS link. To get a piece of this pie, Intuit launched Turbo Tax Freedom, with the purposely similar name to Turbo Tax Free, so they could still hook some people with that scam as people looking for Freedom wind up with Free.
Intuit was worried they’d lose existing paid customers to the Freedom program, since it’s the same thing (they say it’s an entirely different program in order to justify what I’m about to explain, but it’s the same backbone) so they do some pretty nasty things to treat you like Shit if you’ve been a Turbo Tax customer before and want to use Freedom.
First, Turbo Tax immediately warns you that everything you’ve ever done with Turbo Tax is gone. Not just the recent return that you may have spent hours to input, but last year’s return too. If you’re going to use Freedom, they are going to penalize you by making you start over as if you’ve never spent a second of tax preparation time with any of their programs. And if you start with Free they trash everything you’ve done if you want to switch to Freedom too.
There are some little ways they’ve neutered the program, like not allowing you to import W2 forms and 1099 forms, etc. But this isn’t a huge deal. This is really the only difference between Freedom and paid, except you get more “support” with Deluxe, (but I will explain why that doesn’t matter in a moment)
They also made Freedom nearly impossible to find except from the irs.gov link. Second, it was “unavailable” for weeks after it was promised, and even after it was finally released, they programmed it so many people’s browsers still made it appear like it was offline in order to steer them towards their other paid products..
Freedom is the same bottom line as the paid programs with the same forms, and the same end results.
I’ve used Turbo Tax for years and the programs are buggy and inaccurate. The support is an absolute joke. They advertise that you’re going to get help from “tax professionals” like CPAs but when you call for help you’re actually getting part-time independent contractors who work from home who have absolutely no real tax experience. These schmucks have trained for about a month and work through a company named Arise, not for Intuit. They can’t navigate the programs or answer any tax questions. I don’t feel good about giving my financial information to some naked guy sitting at his kitchen table who is writing my social security number and bank account information on a napkin.
The bottom line is if you’ve never used any Turbo Tax products, stay away from them! If you’ve used a Turbo Tax paid program last year and don’t want too much of a hassle, and don’t think you’ll need support, use it again. If you’re desperate to save a few dollars and don’t mind starting over from scratch, then use the IRS link above to find the secret path to Freedom and try it out. And, don’t use Turbo Tax Free for any reason.
I hope this helps, it caused me a lot of pain to figure this all out!