Save a Backup Copy of Your Tax Data File
This article describes how to save a backup copy of your tax data file that can be opened and read by TurboTax CD/Download software.
Similar-sounding—but very different—is saving a copy of your tax return as a PDF file, which is like a picture or "snapshot" of your tax return that you can view or print. PDF files can be opened in the free Adobe Reader program, but they cannot be opened or read by TurboTax software.
Select your version below for instructions. Which version am I using?
TurboTax Online periodically saves your tax data file to our secure server while you're signed in. This prevents data loss in case your Internet connection goes down while working on your return.
After you complete and pay for TurboTax Online Basic (or higher) return, we automatically store a PDF copy of your return, which you can access later. More info
Regardless, it's an excellent idea to also save a copy of your online tax data file, which can be opened in the TurboTax 2012 software in case you need to amend your return after TurboTax Online has closed for the season. You can also transfer this data file if you decide to use the CD/Download software next year.
Note: Only current-year TurboTax Online returns can be saved as data files. Once TurboTax Online shuts down for the season, it's no longer possible to create a data file.
Here's how to make a copy of your tax data file in TurboTax Online:
- Sign in to TurboTax Online.
- After you've signed in, make sure you're on the Welcome Back screen by clicking Home.
- Click the link Save a copy of your 2012 return, located in the lower left corner of your screen, and then click Save.
- In the Save As window, browse to the location where you want to save the file.
- (Optional) Change the default filename (taxReturn) to something more meaningful, for example J Doe 2012 Online Tax Return.
- Click Save.
If you make changes to your Online return, repeat these steps to ensure that your tax data file file stays synchronized with your Online data.
TurboTax CD/Download software
When you start your tax return using TurboTax software, the program creates a tax data file. You will be prompted to save your return at certain times in the program, for example before closing your tax return or downloading an update.
TurboTax software versions do not automatically save your work, so make sure to periodically save by choosing Save from the File menu.
In addition to your original data file, we recommend saving a backup copy, in case the original gets lost or corrupted. Here's how:
- Open your return in TurboTax and choose Save As from the File menu.
- At the Save in field, browse to the location where you want to save your backup.
Note: If you want to burn the file to a CD or save it to portable device, save it to your desktop first to prevent data corruption. After completing Step 4 you can burn, drag, or copy the desktop backup to your CD or device.
- In the File name field, enter a name that will distinguish it from the original tax file (for example, add "Backup" or "Copy" to the file name).
- Click Save and then close TurboTax.
- Restart TurboTax and open the backup copy to make sure it loads. If you get an error, delete the backup and repeat the previous steps.
- Last but not least, if you make changes to your original return, repeat these steps to ensure your original and backup copies contain the same data.
Protect your tax return data file
Once you save a copy of your tax return on your computer or flash drive, be sure to protect the sensitive information in your tax return.
Actions you can take include:
- Downloading and installing the latest updates for Windows or Mac;
- Keeping your firewall on at all times;
- Installing and running up-to-date virus- and spyware-protection software;
- Ensuring that sensitive files are stored in a location where they cannot be shared;
- Moving your tax file off your computer and onto a secured storage device;
- Password-protecting your tax file for an additional layer of security.