The declining value of TurboTax and Quicken

I’ve been a TurboTax user for about as many years as I’ve had a computer at home. I’ve traditionally loved the great deal I got at the start of each year by purchasing a copy of TurboTax with a copy of the new year’s version of Quicken. In the past, there has always been a good discount when you purchased both products in combination. This year, I have found reference to the $30 discount on Intuit’s Rebate Site, but I haven’t yet seen much rebate promotion for the combo.

It seems Intuit is no longer happy with keeping its low end users in this state of free upgrades. This year, they’ve chosen to alter the names and features of their Quicken product. Instead of the “Basic” version, which has had all the support I ever needed, they’ve downgraded the lowest version of Quicken to something called the “Starter Edition”. I’m pretty sure the Starter Edition has most of the same features the basic edition had with the exception of the most important one: You can’t import your existing data. That’s right. The Starter Edition is only for new users. If you’re an existing Quicken user, you’re going to have to fork over another $30 and pay for the “Deluxe” version.

Here is how the costs break down. Let’s say that you’d like a new 2008 version of Quicken and would like to file your Federal and State returns with TurboTax. There are a couple options with TurboTax because you can purchase the desktop version or choose to file with the web software. I’m only including the lower prices versions. If you need the higher priced versions, I assume you have enough assets to worry about that the marginal differences in prices aren’t as concerning to you.

  2007 Price 2008 Price
Quicken Basic $29.99 N/A
Quicken Starter N/A $29.99
Quicken Deluxe $59.99 $59.99
TurboTax Web Free EZ   FREE
TurboTax Web Deluxe   $29.99
TurboTax Basic   $19.95 [1]
TurboTax Deluxe   $44.95 [1]

Don’t trust me though. Check out the Quicken Comparision and the TurboTax Comparison right from Intuit. Since you’ll have to pay an additional $30 to upgrade to the Deluxe version of Quicken this year, I’m suggesting sticking with Quicken 2007. I’m perfectly happy with my 2007 version.

As for TurboTax, you’ll have to evaluate the Actual cost. To figure that out, you have to dig through Intuit’s information to find out how much the filing fees are going to cost you. The TurboTax web products give you a free Federal filing which increases their value. You have to pay extra to download your state taxes (around $30) though. Filing fees are $17.95 for both Federal and State submissions except that the web versions include the federal filing fee.

TurboTax 2008 Price Comparision

  Product Cost State Taxes Federal Filing State Filing Total
TurboTax Web Free $0.00 $25.95 $0.00 $17.95 $43.90
TurboTax Web Basic $14.95 $29.95 $0.00 $17.95 $62.85
TurboTax Web Deluxe $29.95 $29.95 $0.00 $17.95 $77.85
TurboTax Desktop Basic $19.95 $34.95 $17.95 $17.95 $90.80
TurboTax Desktop Deluxe $44.95 $0.00 $17.95 $17.95 $80.85

For me, I’ve got a house and a few charitable contributions to deduct. The Deluxe line of Tax products usually fits that bill. Where I used to pay about $45 for the TurboTax product, $14.95 for federal filing and less for state ($8.95 I think), I’d get my taxes done and basically get a free Quicken upgrade ($30 toward the purchase price of a $30 product). Now, it looks like the best price is the Web Deluxe package and I’m not getting any new Quicken software.

If you do choose to upgrade Quicken, I believe you can get the $30 discount but you’ll basically pay the $30 to get the Deluxe software since the Starter Edition won’t cut it for you. You have to purchase the desktop version to get the discount too so instead of $78 for Deluxe Web you’ll pay $81 for doing your taxes on the desktop. Now, add Quicken for $30 (subtracting the $30 combo discount) and it ends up costing you $111. You pay $42 more than you payed last year.

On a bright note, my state offers filing their tax form online for free. It’s really a quite simple form too and I haven’t felt that TurboTax offered a lot of help in that area in the past. I’m going to purchase the $30 Web Deluxe package and file my state taxes myself. Sheesh Intuit. Way to turn off your loyal customers.

[1] Don’t forget to add in the filing fees.

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