What Are the Key Differences Between Turbotax Online Vs. Desktop?

Tax season is not a happy one for most people. The reasons include the complicated process of tax returns and making sure that financial statements are up to date.

Besides, ensuring that everything is reported with compliance and you’ve claimed all possible deductions is also a concern. And this problem is common whether an individual is filing his return or a small business is doing so.

However, many software and tax apps have simplified the process for tax filers. You can easily file the tax return and get away from the difficulty of understanding every minor detail about tax.

Besides, it can save hundreds of dollars businesses would pay to CPAs. Besides, CPAs can also save their time by drafting different types of tax returns for countless customers.

One such software is Turbotax.

Turbotax is the #1 app in the category of tax apps with a lot of plans and features. It’s a tax filing app developed by Intuit and covers the concern of a large tax base.

Whether you’re a self-employed person or investor, student or small business, you can get a guided process of tax filing, deductions, refunds, etc.

There is an online version and a Desktop/CD version of Turbotax. Many people go for the cd/desktop version, while others rely on the web-based online version of Turbotax.

Are both of these versions different from each other? How does Turbotax compare with other tax software? These are some of the questions asked by the tax filers.

Therefore, we are going to discuss the key features of Turbotax and the difference between Turbotax Desktop and Turbotax Online. Besides, we will also compare Turbotax with other tax software available in the market.

What Is Turbotax?

As mentioned earlier, Turbotax is a product of Intuit to facilitate the taxpayers, CPAs, and businesses by giving a convenient method of filing returns backed by final expert review. Intuit is not only behind Turbotax but many other software like Mailchimp, Mint, Quickbooks, etc., are also on its credit.

Turbotax has been there for decades, and it’s as old as the mid-1980s. In 2022, the software has earned the repute of top software for tax returns.

The clean interface, ease of use, interview method for tax deductions, and several products are available within the suite are what make Turbotax unique.

You can answer different questions to make the right choices about tax deductions and get an expert review of the finalized return.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Turbotax has become a market leader as compared to other tax software like H & R Block, Cash App Taxes, etc.

The software has paid and free versions for the customers that they can choose from according to their requirements. The mobile app of Turbotax is also available that making it an even more convenient method for return filing.

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Features Of Turbotax

So what do you get when subscribing to Intuit Turbotax?

All features of Turbotax might not be available at one or another pricing level. But most of the features are present in whichever option you go with. Here are the main features of Intuit Turbotax:

Different Options For All Types of Tax Payers

The best thing about Turbotax is that it offers different options for all types of taxpayers. For instance, an investor would have different types of deductions, and a self-employed person will have different needs.

Therefore, you can choose the right option for your needs. However, different options might have varying pricing.

Expert Review Of Tax Return In Turbotax Live

Whichever option of Turbotax you go with, you have the option to get your tax return reviewed by tax experts. Besides, you can get tax advice from experts all year round.

E-Filing Help

You can get advice and help from tax experts and CPAs about e-filing of tax. It’s a great option for individuals and those filing returns for the first time.

Advice From Tax Experts In Self-Employed and All Levels of Turbotax Live

You can ask for advice about industry-specific deductions, tax return filing for freelancers or small business owners, mortgage tax deductions, donations treatment, etc.,

Audit Assessment For Self-Employed People

If you’ve chosen the self-employed suite, you get the feature of audit assessment from CPAs and experts and make sure that everything is going in the right direction for you.

Industry-Specific Deductions

Industry-specific deductions feature is available for the self-employed suite only. You can also get advice on your self-employment income and expenses.

And there are numerous other features available that you can only explore when inside the ecosystem.

Turbotax Vs. Other Tax Software

Turbotax, H&R Block, Cash App Taxes, Tax Act, etc., are the most popular tax software and apps available in the market. When we compare Turbotax with other software, the following benefits, and downsides of Turbotax are highlighted:


  • The simplified process and easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Easy to import supporting documents
  • Tax preparation assistance at various levels
  • Different products and pricing plans
  • Free basic version for simplified tax return


  • Not a very good option for people on a budget
  • You have to pay additional costs every time filing a state tax return except in a self-employed plan

In comparison with Turbotax, H&R Block is the most affordable option with a free version. However, it lags behind in offering incentives to early filers, user interfaces, and more advanced features.

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When comparing TaxAct with Turbotax, TaxAct is also a more affordable option with more or less the same. But features. But again, Turbotax wins in the user interface, human support, and other advanced features.

Turbotax Online Vs. Turbotax Desktop

Turbotax Online and Turbotax Desktop are two facades of the same software. Each of these two targets the taxpayers, but where they differ is the preference of users to rely on cloud-based software or get away with a CD/Desktop version.

Besides some differences in the user interface, how tax returns are priced, and functionalities, both versions are more or less the same.

Turbotax Online

Turbotax Online is a web-based and cloud-based version of Turbotax where all information is stored in the cloud. The main features of Turbotax Online include:

  • Cloud-based software stores all users’ data on Turbotax.com that can be accessed through the web browser.
  • You need web connectivity to access the features of the software. However, the web-based version’s positive side is no need for the installation process and heavy software occupying your device’s memory.
  • You can also plan a government assessment plan in Turbotax Online.
  • You don’t have to pay anything until you are filing the return, and the price is determined when filing the return.

The limitations within Turbotax Online are:

  • There are no separate business returns for LLC, S, Estate, Corp, Trust, etc.
  • Every return(state, tax, etc.) has separate charges. Therefore, it’s good for those who want to file one return and not both.
  • You might not be able to access your online stored data after October each year
  • Only a predetermined number of stock exchanges is included
  • There is no feature of importing financial data from QuickBooks or relevant software

Turbotax Desktop

With the Desktop version of Turbotax, you have to download and install the software. You can download the Deluxe or Basic version after paying the price. The main features you get with Turbotax Desktop are as follows:

  • You do not need internet access while preparing your files and documentation
  • It’s possible to import financial information directly from other software like QuickBooks, Quicken, etc
  • There is no extra expense up to 5 government gets backs
  • There is no limit to how many returns you are planning and recording
  • Earlier year’s profits and data can be amended
  • More than 500 stock exchanges are listed
  •  There is an option for separate business returns for LLC, Estate, Corporation, Bequest, Enterprise, Trust, etc.

The limitations of Turbotax Desktop are:

  • You have to pay before you actually start the process of tax filing
  • The data storage and tax-related information can easily get exposed to unauthorized persons accessing your device.
  • You can only access Turbotax from the device you have installed it on. You cannot file a return from any other device.
  • Although available for both Windows and Mac, it doesn’t work on Windows older than Windows 7.
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Do You Have to Buy Turbotax Every Year?

No, you don’t have to buy TurboTax every year. TurboTax is a software program that helps individuals prepare and file their tax returns. The software is typically updated every year to reflect changes in tax laws and regulations, and to improve its functionality.

While you don’t have to buy TurboTax every year, you may need to upgrade to a new version if you have a change in your tax situation or if you need to file a different type of return (such as a business tax return).

If you purchase TurboTax online, you may be able to download and install the software on multiple computers, which can help you save money if you file taxes for multiple people.

TurboTax also offers a variety of different packages and pricing options to choose from, depending on your needs. Some versions of the software may be free or low-cost for individuals with simple tax returns, while others may be more expensive for those with more complex tax situations.

Additionally, TurboTax offers a range of optional add-ons and services that can be purchased for an additional fee, such as audit defense, live tax advice, and more.

Ultimately, whether or not you need to buy TurboTax every year will depend on your individual tax situation and whether or not you need to file a tax return.

If you have a simple tax return and feel comfortable preparing and filing your own taxes, you may be able to use a free online tax software or file your taxes manually without using TurboTax.

However, if you have a more complex tax situation or feel unsure about how to prepare and file your taxes, using a software program like TurboTax may be helpful.

Final Words

Turbotax Online and Turbotax Desktop have their own benefits and limitations. It’s you who has to decide which one to go for. If you’re a person more comfortable working with installed programs, the Desktop version is for you.

However, if you don’t want to pay until you file the return and want a cloud-based data storage, the Online version will go along. Besides, you can compare the benefits and limitations we have listed before deciding which version to go for.