How to Save Your Tax Return as a PDF in TurboTax

Backup your completed tax return by saving it as a PDF in TurboTax

When you have completed your tax return using TurboTax, you are able to save a printable file of the return in its entirety in the PDF format. This is an important step in your tax filing process because even though TurboTax saves a data file of your tax return, saving a PDF of your return lets you archive your return as a complete document that can be opened without TurboTax software.

Adobe Reader is the most popular software used to view PDF documents and is available as a free download.

What Is a PDF?

"PDF" stand for Portable Document File, which is a file format created by Adobe and is a standard format for documents. The PDF file format was created to make it easy to transmit and view documents independent of software, hardware and operating systems. A PDF retains the design and layout of the document so it appears the same wherever it is viewed. A PDF is not meant to be edited from the original (editing a PDF requires specific software).

PDFs are a common format used for sharing documents via email or for storing and backing up documents. For your security, do not email a PDF of your tax return to anyone other than your tax preparer—and be sure to follow any recommendations for securing the file in an email that your preparer suggests.

Why Keep a PDF Copy of Your Tax Return?

It's a great idea to save a PDF of your return even if you print out a copy for yourself for at least two reasons:

  • You want to save your tax return prepared with TurboTax as a PDF so you have a backup, and so you can print it later (using Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader, for example).
  • You need a PDF copy of last year's return to import the data into TaxACT, H&R Block At Home or other tax software.

Where to Save Your PDF Tax Return Backup File

When saving your tax return PDF as a backup, be sure to save it in a location where you won't lose it because of a catastrophe, anything from theft, fire or even your hard drive failing. Save in on removable media like a CD, DVD or USB drive that you keep in a secure place with your other important financial documents, such as a fireproof box. Better yet, use a reputable online backup storage service where it is saved outside of your home, is secure, and is automatically backed up by the hosting company in case of disaster on their side. 

Remember, the PDF file is not your TurboTax data file. The data file can be read by the TurboTax software. The PDF is a human-friendly page-by-page image of your return that can be viewed in Adobe Reader or other PDF readers.

Creating a PDF in TurboTax

TurboTax offers the option to save your return as a PDF in both the TurboTax Online version as well as the desktop application versions on both Windows and Mac.

Note: You can only open a TurboTax return in the same TurboTax software you used to create it. For example, 2015 returns can only be opened in TurboTax 2015. Opening older returns in a newer TurboTax year will only import your tax information in order to begin a new tax return for the current year.

Save a PDF from TurboTax Online

TurboTax Online Print Center
TurboTax Online Print Center. Intuit

Note: If you use TurboTax Online, you will need to pay for the service in order to print your return or save it as a PDF.

  1. Log into your TurboTax Online account.
  2. Click on Print Center on the lower left, which is identified by a printer icon.
  3. Select one of the form options, then click Save to My Computer.
  4. Click Save As and navigate to where you want to save the PDF, such as your DVD drive or a USB drive, or use Desktop if you intend to move the file elsewhere to store it on an online storage service like Dropbox.
  5. In the file name box, change the name to something that makes sense to you.
  6. Click on Save.

Save a PDF Return with TurboTax for Windows

TurboTax for Windows Print Center
TurboTax for Windows Print Center. Intuit
  1. Open your tax return in TurboTax.
  2. Click on File in the menu, or click Print Center in the upper right corner of TurboTax. 
  3. The default is set to print all forms required for filing. If you don't want your PDF to be comprehensive, select one of the other options.
  4. Click the Save As PDF button.
  5. In the Save As dialog box, select the location you want to save to (a USB drive, for example) or accept the default folder location on your hard drive: My Documents/TurboTax.

    If you will be using the PDF as a backup, don't save it on your hard drive. Your backup file should be saved in a different location, such as a USB drive or online storage service.
  6. Click Save and the PDF will be created and saved.

Save a PDF Return with TurboTax for Mac

  1. Open your tax return in TurboTax.
  2. Click on the File menu.
  3. Click Save to PDF... from the menu. A save dialog box will open.
  4. Name your tax return file and select where you want to save it.
  5. Click Save.