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've completed your tax return using TurboTax, you'll obviously want to retain a copy that's accessible on your computer, and you can easily do this. TurboTax lets you save a printable file of the return in its entirety in the PDF format with just a click. 

This is an important step in your filing process because even though TurboTax saves a data file of your tax return, saving a PDF as well 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 it's available as a free download.

What Is a PDF?

PDF stands for "portable document file," a format created by Adobe 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 however it's viewed. A PDF is not meant to be edited from the original. Editing a PDF requires special software.

PDFs are a common format used for sharing documents via email or for storing and backing them up. But you should never email a PDF of your tax return to anyone other than your tax preparer—and even then, be sure to follow any recommendations for securing the file that your preparer might suggest.

Where to Save Your PDF Tax Return Backup File

Save your PDF file in a location where you won't lose it in the event of a catastrophe, such as fire, theft, or even hard drive failure. In addition to saving it to your hard drive, you can also store it on removable media like a CD, DVD, or USB drive. Then keep the media in a secure place with your other important financial documents. A fireproof box is ideal.

You can also use a reputable online backup storage service where the document is saved outside your home. Make sure the service is secure and that it's automatically backed up by the hosting company in case of a disaster on their side. 

Remember, the PDF file is not your TurboTax data file. The data file can only be read by the TurboTax software. The PDF is simply 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

This is the easy part. 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.

Save a PDF from TurboTax Online

TurboTax Online Print Center
TurboTax Online Print Center. Intuit
  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.

If you use TurboTax Online, you'll have to pay for the service before you can print your return or save it as a PDF.

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

PDF
Adobe
  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.