Before I start, I should say I’ve been a user of TurboTax for several years – can’t remember exactly how many, but for more than 5 years for sure. I couldn’t imagine doing my taxes without it in the past, but after this year’s experience, I’m seriously thinking about switching to something else, just so I don’t end up banging my head on the wall out of utter frustration!
I should also mention that I waited since 4/17 to post this entry in order to cool off. I would have been much more critical if I wrote this last week…
I’ve been using the online version of TurboTax since it came out about two years ago. When I started using it this year, I noticed that it had changed a lot – the graphics were slicker, the site looked nicer, etc. That’s where the good points stopped! The rest of the changes were horrible:
- Gone was the wonderful screen-by-screen contextual help, with audio and video walk-throughs. Instead, now I had some horrible pop-up help that didn’t help much at all and at times referred me to dig through the IRS site for some form or other such thing.
- Gone was the easy navigation to specific pages. Now, if I wanted to access a specific screen, I had to start from the beginning of the section and go through e-v-e-r-y little page I didn’t care about, making sure I didn’t mess up my previously answered fields… Horrible, just horrible! This was the single biggest time-waster of this year’s tax season!
- Gone was the simple, easy to use interface. Now I had a slick but clunky interface, where I had to guess how things were organized. I had this weird dichotomy of thought – on the one hand, I wanted to take a sharp pencil and run it across the screen in anguish, doodling in despair, and on the other hand, the buttons looked so nice… Ugh!
- Did any of you notice the ridiculous wait times to get to chat live with a rep? For me, it was 50 minutes! Do I have 50 minutes to sit in front of my computer, only to wait for some tired and frazzled rep to answer my question perfunctorily? I think not.
I can’t describe the agony of doing my taxes this year. It was a nightmare. I must have wasted over 10 hours because of TurboTax ‘s horrible navigation and clunkiness! Still, I would have been willing to pull the cover over all these glaring shortcomings if only TurboTax would have been able to do its most basic function, which is… to file my taxes correctly! But no, it had to go and mess that up, too!
I chose to file my taxes electronically this year, and to send in a hand-signed form. I was supposed to get notified by TurboTax when my taxes were electronically accepted by the IRS, so I could come back online and print out the form, sign it, and mail it. Sounds simple, right? Well, they never notified me! My wife and I sat there wondering when it would happen, and come tax day (4/17), we still weren’t notified!
That afternoon, I decided to log back into my account to check the status, and I couldn’t! I kept getting this error, telling me TurboTax couldn’t retrieve my submission status. Well, gosh darn it, why did I pay for this piece of software? No matter how many times I tried, even after logging out, emptying my cache, jumping on one foot, throwing salt over my shoulder, whatever, TurboTax couldn’t retrieve my submission status, and it was getting really, really late – I mean, like 10 minutes before 5 pm late!
Finally, I started looking through the TurboTax help files to see how this error could be addressed – because, of course, TurboTax didn’t provide a link to the specific help page addressing this error next to the error message (duh!). After 10 minutes of digging around and mumbling all sorts of unwell thoughts about TurboTax , I stumbled across some number (not toll-free) I could call to check my status over the phone. When I called, I had to listen to a pre-recorded message telling me how I could check my status online… Would I be calling if I could do that?! So anyway, after navigating through a needless phone menu, I was able to get my information, and to find out that my return had been accepted by the IRS several days earlier. Peachy, or so I thought!
I logged back into my TurboTax acount to print out the special one-page form, but of course, I couldn’t print it because the stinking program couldn’t retrieve my status. Aargh! So I went to the IRS site and printed the form, then filled it in by hand – again, I couldn’t help asking myself why I paid for TurboTax if I had to fill out forms by hand (?!) – only to find out… and it gets better, folks… that it was too late. I was supposed to sign and send the form within 24 hours of the electronic acceptance by the IRS!
At this point, I think steam must have been coming out of my ears! I tell you, I was NOT thinking nice, friendly thoughts about TurboTax , and for good reason! They didn’t notify me the IRS had received my taxes! They were able to do it last year, but not this year!
In the end, I ended up having to print my entire tax forms set from TurboTax and send it into the IRS once more, hoping that they’ll accept it in paper format even though I’d sent it in electronically already… I included the special signature form, for good measure. I hope I won’t get in trouble with the IRS. If I do, I have TurboTax to thank for it!
So, there you have it, my entire, horrible, not to be repeated, experience with TurboTax , which this year, was a dreadful, “pull your hair out” piece of software. You be the judge of whether you want to use it to do your taxes. My take: tax time is stressful enough already without having to deal with buggy, hard to use software.