Canadians who file their taxes with TurboTax are often confused by the different product choices available. Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, sells the product in five different flavours: Basic, which retails for $19.99, Standard, which sells for $39.99, Premier ($69.99), Home & Business ($99.99) and TurboTax 20 ($129.99). Intuit’s website comparing the features available in the different flavours recommends that the Premier edition is the right choice for someone who has rental and investment income to include in their tax return.

The TurboTax website also says that the the Home & Business edition is right for you if you are “a contract worker or self-employed & want to file personal & business taxes in one place”. A TurboTax customer who typically purchases the Standard version and had some business income in 2011 might reasonably infer that she will need the more expensive edition to complete her 2011 taxes.

But, that’s not quite accurate. All flavours of TurboTax will allow you to complete your taxes if you only use the forms method for preparing your taxes. The difference between the various TurboTax editions occurs in the extra help in the interview questions and in the number of returns (8 in Standard, 12 in Premier and Home & Business and 20 in TurboTax 20). So, if you are a TurboTax customer and are comfortable preparing Schedule 3 (Capital Gains or Losses in 2011) or T2125 (Statement of Business or Professional Activities), Standard can do the job for you.

This article has 10 comments

  1. Thanks for the post CC. I really always assumed that the different editions meant bundling more into the program (not only the interviews). This should save us a few bucks, but it turns out my wife really does prefer using the interview method. Quick and easy she says – even though she eventually goes to the forms afterwards to check over.

  2. @Sampson: My understanding is the vast majority of taxpayers prefer the interview method. It’s just geeks like us who like to use the forms directly 🙂

  3. My problem is that I have Mac’s and Linux systems. So they want me to go on-line and do my taxes there… Not comfortable. So I’ve actually been doing the paper and pencil method (at least for the draft then switch to a pen) the last several years…

  4. Why use TurboTax at all if you are a regular taxpayer? I’ve been using TaxFreeway for years and it is quite good. There is a Mac version ($14.99), PC version ($9.99) and a licence for both that includes an iPad version ($19.99). You can do up to 20 returns with any of these … enough for any family.

  5. I have a small business (T2125 income/expenses) as well as investments and do all my heavy lifting on my own (i.e. book keeping, ACB calculation for capital gains) so am more than happy with Standard Edition as it has all the forms I need. Although the extra cost is not extravagant I’m not sure how much value add the Premier or Business versions would bring…

  6. @stamperitis: I understand your frustration. There are a couple of programs available on the Mac:

    @Bob: Fair enough. The reality though is that a lot of people like to stick with the programs they currently use and are comfortable with. I’ve played around with different tax programs myself and there is always a bit of a learning curve.

    @Michael: Agree. The review copies I get are typically higher end versions but I always end up using just the forms, so I don’t even noticing the difference. Maybe this year, I will investigate how much value add there is for investments and such.

  7. How about a plug for good old StudioTax (to refresh memories). 🙂

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  9. Why create so many different version? offers free tax return for anyone who does not have business income. Free offer won’t last for long.

  10. Is this still the case? Will the basic version have all the same forms as the standard and higher versions but just less interactive questions?