ANY tax software released by any company prior to about January 15 is only released for marketing and market share. No program is complete and ready to file until the IRS approves their final forms and then individually reviews each program's implementation of the form. And some tax situations aren't able to be filed until February or March, again mostly due to IRS delays.
Although TurboTax may allow you to e-filed some returns as early as 1/7/20 (IF the forms in your return are ready for filing … see info below) they are NOT actually sent to the IRS. TurboTax stores those early filed returns in a holding “POOL” until the IRS opens for business and “drains the pool” for processing ... only then will you get an e-mail telling you if the return was accepted or rejected by the IRS.
Only the simplest returns can be transmitted to TurboTax early. Some forms will not be finalized until Jan 25 and some later than that.
Why does TurboTax allow early filing? Because their competitors do - It is a marketing ploy to capture market share.
Filing early with TurboTax before the IRS opens is a really BAD IDEA for many reasons...
1) If you discover something that is wrong on your return, receive a W-2 that is different, receive some other tax document that was not on the return that you filed then there is NOTHING that you can do about it other than wait to see if the IRS accepts or rejects the return after they open. If rejected you can correct and file again, but if accepted then the only remedy is to amend which can take 4 months to process.
2) You must remember to check back after the IRS opens (or check for an e-mail) to confirm that the IRS has accepted or rejected the return. If rejected, then it was never filed at all and must be corrected and re-filed. Every year many taxpayers that file early, forget to check back and only discover months later that they never actually filed because if was rejected by the IRS but they had forgotten about checking back after filing with TurboTax.
3) While the IRS does conduct some pre-opening tests and does accept some returns early (ONLY for TESTING purposes), they will not actually process those until after the official opening date. There is a reason to test and that is to discover any problems with it's systems. A couple of years ago a test went bad and several thousand "test" returns were lost. The IRS was able to recover those but it delayed refunds for some by months.
There is no real advantage to file before the IRS opens but there are several disadvantages to do so.
When will my forms be ready?
Historically, IRS tax forms start becoming available in January, with a few stragglers (most notably Form 1040X) getting finalized in February.
State tax forms can become available for filing any time between December and late February, depending on the state and the tax form.
For specific forms and dates, refer to the Forms Availability Table for your TurboTax product, see the related information below.
Can I Still Work On My Return Before My Forms are Ready?
Yes, according to the following:
You can still work on your return and finish most of it. Once your forms become available, we’ll create the forms and include all of your info.
You’ll only be able to e-file or print your return once the forms are available.
While you’re working on your return, we’ll ask if you want to receive email updates when your forms become available.
If your forms aren’t available, you’ll get a message asking you to return once they become available.
While you’re working on your return, you’ll have a chance to let us know you want to receive email updates when your forms become available.
Click on the REVIEW tab and the program will tell you what in your return is still NOT ready and the estimated date it will be (subject to change of course ) ... you can put in for an email alert when they are ready ....
I don't have the answer to your question, but if you are trying to do year-end planning by estimating the entries on a 2020 tax return, you can presently make Form 1099-R entries in forms mode of the CD/download version of 2020 TurboTax. You can later do your real tax return when the retirement and social security section is activated. With the exception of Form 8915-E for reporting Coronavirus-Related Distributions, TurboTax appears to do all of the necessary calculations on the relevant forms. (If you need to report a CRD, you can simulate it by reporting it on Form 8915-D as long as your 2019 disaster distributions, if any, plus your CRD do not exceed $100,000.)
When making Form 1099-R entries, be sure not to indicate that any distributions you received were RMDs; RMDs were waived for 2020 by the CARES Act.
The What-If Worksheet in the previous year's TurboTax will produce no better results than the partially functional initial release of the current year's TurboTax. The only benefit to using the What-If Worksheet of the previous year is in the case where one expects most of the previous year's income deductions and credits to remain the same and can be copied to column 2, 3 or 4 of that worksheet. Otherwise, it's easier and in some cases can produce more accurate results if the entries are made in the partially functional current-year TurboTax since the partially functional current-year TurboTax can already do various calculations that would have to be done by had when using the previous year's What-If Worksheet.
Access to the previous year's What-If Worksheet also assumes that the user has access to the previous year's CD/download version of TurboTax. It would make no sense to purchase the previous year's CD/download version of TurboTax only to use its What-If Worksheet since the partially functional CD/download version for the current year can already do everything that the previous year's What-If Worksheet can.
'ANY tax software released by any company prior to about January 15 is only released for marketing and market share."
TaxACT is completely functional when released in January. It is not missing major areas of tax law.
They don't put out non-functional software early for marketing purposes.