Get Free or Discounted TurboTax Year After Year

statefarm6

NOTE: Well, it was good while it lasted… Starting with 2016 tax year State Farm will no longer offer free or heavily discounted TurboTax software. I emailed customer service and they confirmed it. I closed my account and got my $25 deposit back.

This year I will try out Credit Karma’s totally free online tax software. I hope it will deliver because it sounds great from the description. Supposedly they will support complicated forms like Schedule C and rental properties all with free federal and state e-filing. 

Original blog post follows…

In my last post I talked about the reasons why I prefer doing our taxes myself instead of calling up a CPA. Cost was mentioned as one of the reasons, although it wasn’t THE most important one. Still, preparing taxes with one of the software programs like TurboTaxTaxAct and H&R Block costs money. It’s peanuts compared to what an accountant will charge you to file a return but free is better, right?

After trying different software over the years I settled on TurboTax as my preferred solution. I feel like it’s more intuitive and flexible than others and now that I’ve been using it for so long the learning curve if I were to jump to another package would be steep. Despite our relatively complicated tax situation, I can get everything done in just a couple of hours in TurboTax, especially since most of the information is pre-populated from the previous year. As a bonus, many forms can be pulled in automatically by the program without any typing at all (brokerage, W2s, etc).

As our tax situation got ever more complicated I had to climb up the TurboTax edition ladder. Started with Free, went to Basic, progressed to Deluxe and Premier and now settled at Home & Business. Not surprisingly, the software costs progressed as well.

I started looking around for discount codes on TurboTax software and was usually able to find a coupon online but it wasn’t anything substantial. It was also annoying because if you ever tried to find an online coupon you know that 90% of the sites that advertise them are fake.

Then a couple of years ago I stumbled across an advertisement that seemed legit. State Farm was promoting their banking business mentioning that one of the perks is access to free or discounted versions of TurboTax.

After further investigation I decided to give it a shot. All my banking needs were already met by another financial institution so I went for the easiest option that gave me access to free TurboTax – opening a free checking account with State Farm.

The process is easy.

  • Go to www.statefarm.com, click on “Finances” and select “Banking”. You should then see a link to “Open an Account”.

  • Select Free Checking account which has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements.

  • Finish the application process and fund your new checking account with $25.

Once the account is set up you will get online access. While there are no minimum balance requirements I just keep it funded at $25. It’s been a couple of years now without any issues: no inactivity fees, no letters from the bank, no other BS typical with financial institutions.

Yearly sometime in January a TurboTax link appears after I log in (really the ONLY time I log into my account). Here is a picture of what it looks like:

statefarm1

Clicking the “Prepare Your Taxes” link brings a page prompting you to start using TurboTax for free:

statefarm2

After that you get to select an edition you want to use along with a preferred method – online or download. Below are examples of TurboTax online prices through State Farm:

statefarm3 statefarm4

Note that it says “State additional” but after clicking on that link you’ll see that State filing is free with every edition:

statefarm5

I pulled together a table that shows how much you can save by using State Farm’s TurboTax option. These prices were valid in March 2014 per Intuit’s website. All comparisons include Federal, State and efile.

TurboTax Edition

Online State Farm

Online Intuit

Download State Farm

Download Intuit

Target User

Free

Free

$28

NA

NA

Simple taxes

Basic

Free

$28

Free

$70

Simple taxes

Deluxe

Free

$67

$20

$60

Kids, home, deductions

Premier

$20

$87

$30

$90

Investments, rental property

Home & Business

$30

$112

$40

$100

Business, 1099, contracting or consulting income

Business

NA

NA

$50

$150

Corporation, partnership

Deluxe online edition is free and it’s a great package that will work for most people. We have to use Home & Business now so I ended up paying $30. Still an awesome deal compared to $112 I’d pay otherwise.

The best part is that I get to continue to use my preferred software without worrying too much about the price. I also don’t have to waste any time hunting for questionable discount codes online. I haven’t found any downside to keeping a free checking account open with State Farm to take advantage of this hack. I could probably even reduce the account balance to zero but $25 is such a negligible sum that I’m happy to keep it there just to make sure the savings continue.

The “curse” (feature?) of working toward financial independence is a constant drive to reduce and eliminate even the smallest expenses. Deciding to start doing taxes yourself instead of outsourcing to a CPA is a big first step in this particular scenario. Finding a way to reduce the DIY costs even further is an enjoyable second.

Never stop optimizing!

 

5 thoughts on “Get Free or Discounted TurboTax Year After Year

  1. Pingback: DIY Taxes | Insourcelife

  2. I am taking my taxes to the ‘tax man’ one more time to have them run some numbers for me. Specifically, if it’s best to file jointly or separately. My wife and I have a big disparage in our income and I’ve read that this can be beneficial to your taxes if you file separately, but wanted to have a pro run the numbers. Hopefully this is a one time thing.

    • Have you tried running this scenario in the software if your choice? For example, TurboTax will run the numbers and recommend if it’s better to file jointly or separately and I trust their calculations just fine. There’s certainly no issue with having a professional do it too… besides extra fees they’d want that is.

  3. I tried with the online edition of Turbo Tax, but it couldn’t do it without having to start all over again for each choice. The online edition isn’t really that great compared to the “thick client”. I’ve already made the schedule for this weekend, might as well keep it.

    • You’re right, only the desktop version has this comparison feature. Having to retype all the info in the online version to get the comparison is silly but time-wise it might still be comparable to driving to a CPA and having to explain your situation.

      Good point though – if someone is looking for this feature, download the desktop version of TurboTax!

Comments are closed.