Intuit stops short of giving TurboTax a radical face-lift every year, which is good news for longtime users who don't want to relearn the familiar menus. The 2007 tax year edition of TurboTax is no exception, and improvements such as a shorter interview sweeten the process by narrowing the number of questions, and clicks needed to complete a return.
TurboTax 2007 comes in four versions. Unlike H&R Block TaxCut 2007, Intuit has introduced a free federal edition, but you'll have to tack on $26 to file a state return. That entry-level choice is best for those who use a simple 1040EZ. Intuit adds $30 for state filing to the base cost of the three other editions, starting with the $30 TurboTax Deluxe. The $50 TurboTax Premier, which we reviewed, includes help with investments such as stocks, bonds, and rental property. The $75 TurboTax Home & Business edition, which we also checked out, is the best choice for those who run their own businesses. For a hybrid experience that involves an accountant, TurboTax Personal Pro costs $100. TurboTax remains a bit pricier than TaxCut, which swallows the fees for state filing. However, TaxCut charges $20 for DeductionPro, while similar tools are integrated within TurboTax's It'sDeductible.
Setup and interface
TurboTax 2007 took us five minutes to install and another seven minutes to run a series of updates. Your computer must be online to get the latest information, which Intuit regularly refreshes. Luckily, the system requirements are modest: Windows 2000 SP4, XP or Vista (or PowerPC G3 or higher Mac), 256MB of RAM, and a CD-ROM drive.
Once the program was open, we were greeted by a form asking for our name, address, and e-mail address so that we could receive product updates later. We left that blank and continued without interruption.
Before you start, note that you can jump around the interface, using topical tabs, search, or a pop-up Topic List. It wasn't easy to lose our place; a topical search for deductions, for instance, takes you directly to the page to enter them, with the Back button offering a way out (but why doesn't the keyboard Backspace do the same?). The application is well-organized overall, but we would like fewer pop-ups, like the Help menu.
You have the option to fill in all the blanks, or to save data entry by transferring data from a TurboTax file from another year, which worked fine on one Windows XP computer. However, on our laptop running Vista, TurboTax failed to recognize our TurboTax file from last year.
You'll start with the individual 1040 income return or, for Home & Business users, W-2 and 1099 forms for employers. Luckily, Intuit has continued to improve its interview, so you don't need to know a lick of tax lingo to begin. Help with life events begins, for example, when you check off boxes next to a house icon to show that you bought, sold, or refinanced a home. Intuit is careful to explain whether you should claim a child as a dependent. In case you failed to properly fill out the Life Events page, TurboTax continues to ask related questions, such as whether you earned income from the military, abroad, or in more than one state.
When entering personal income, we liked the pair of choices: Select Specific Topics and Guide Me Through Income. With your employer identification number filled out, TurboTax may be able to import the details via ADP. You can also import paycheck details from Quicken, but not rival software such as Microsoft Money. When we filled out the wages fields incorrectly, TurboTax flagged the errors.