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What are the differences between the online and the CD/download edition of TurboTax?

If you are trying to decide on whether to buy the online edition or the CD/download edition of TurboTax, there are a few things you should consider. Factors such as installation, access and functionality can all vary between platforms, and finding the perfect product to fit your needs is important.

Which version is right for me?

Here are a few key comparisons between the online and CD/Download versions of TurboTax:

Online edition CD/Download edition
  • No need to install any software. Use any computer with a stable Internet connection to access and use TurboTax.
  • Prepare and eFile your return from virtually any computer or mobile device with internet access
  • Automatically transfer your tax and personal information from year to year to give you a head start each tax season
  • Your returns are securely stored (for up to 7 years), in your account for easy access, anytime/anywhere
  • Easy access to tax experts through our Assist and Review function
  • User-friendly interface divided into easy-to-follow sections
  • You need to install the CD/downloaded edition on a Windows computer with internet access
  • You can only access TurboTax on the device on which it was installed
  • Tax information is transferable from year to year, but only if you've saved a copy of your tax data file
  • Forms method of data entry available, allowing you to enter information directly into forms that resemble the traditional paper format
  • No access to tax experts during the filing process, though Pro Service function is available if you need help with accuracy and completeness

Some tax information (unused tuition and education amounts, RRSP limits, unused capital loss, and so on) get carried over from year to year. If your tax return includes these items, every year when you start a new tax return, you need to transfer this information from your previous tax return over to your new one. While this can always be done manually, an automatic transfer avoids the possibility of mistakes, and is also faster and more convenient. This could be a major factor in deciding which product best fits your needs.

Having an easily accessible copy of your tax returns could prove useful for a number of reasons. You might need to refer to previous returns for things such as verifying your identity with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), or to reference as proof of your annual net income. The process of viewing and printing past tax returns varies between TurboTax editions (instant access online, download of your tax data file required with CD/Download editions), and both can play a role in choosing a product that's right for you.

One of the major factors in deciding which product to buy involves cost. TurboTax products in each edition (online or CD/download) offer different value for your money, and calculating your cost-per-tax-return (dividing the price of a TurboTax product by the number of tax returns you need to file), can help you compare and choose products more effectively.

Related information:

What if I don't want to upgrade from Windows 7?

What are the minimum system requirements for TurboTax software?

How will the end of support for Windows 7 impact my TurboTax experience?

How can I file my taxes if I don't want to upgrade my OS?

What are the risks of using TurboTax on Windows 7?

How will upgrading to Windows 10 affect older versions of TurboTax and prior year taxes?

How can I return my software or receive credit toward TurboTax online?

Where can I get help with my OS?

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