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Software The Almighty Buck

Tax Preparation Software for 2003? 112

Posted by Cliff
from the don't-wait-for-april-15th dept.
Aaron asks: "After last year's debacle with TurboTax's copy protection system, I want to avoid their software (even though they say they won't do it again). But after reading some of the reviews on TaxCut, it sounds a bit buggy. What tax preparation software are people using for their 2003 taxes? I've heard of TaxACT, the free tax software - is that any good? I don't suppose any decent tax software works on Linux..."
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Tax Preparation Software for 2003?

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  • TaxCut (Score:5, Informative)

    by elmegil (12001) on Monday January 05, 2004 @08:20PM (#7886279) Homepage Journal
    Kiplinger's Tax Cut even says on the front "no product activation required". Given that TaxCut and TurboTax have been the de facto standards for years, and H&R Block partners with Kiplinger's, it's a no brainer.

    frist spot?

    • I use it for my Federal & State and my Business (S-Corp) Federal & State. It's very easy to use and is a first class piece of software. 5 years in a row now for me. My accountant charges me around $1200 to do all those filings where I paid $145 for TaxCut. Plus, they offer to pay your penalties & interest if there is a miscalculation that causes a problem with your return! Now that is standing behind your product.
    • by yog (19073)
      Second that on Taxcut. It installed and ran on my linux workstation with Crossover and the only problem was that clicking "help" made it crash (apparently tries to launch a browser).

      As a long time Turbotax user, I had initially investigated their Turbotax-on-the-Web, which I thought would be a great cross-platform solution, but it required a certain version of Internet Explorer. I complained to the company but they did not indicate that they had any flexibility on this. What's the point of the web if it
    • The structure of the Kiplingers "interview" process was seriously awkward when I used their product two years ago. I've found TurboTax to be pretty easy to live with by comparison, the other three times now I've gone with software. Kiplingers just wasn't giving me the same sense of context: where am I in filling this out? What holes are left? That kind of thing.

      It may just be a matter of taste, but there was a distinct lack of continuity to TaxCut, from my POV.

    • Or, for those who are poor students, or otherwise fairly poor, there's Intuit's Taxfreedom site. [taxfreedom.com] It won't become live for the 2003 season until mid-January 2004, but it's for those who have less than a certain AGI; in 2002, less than $27,000. It provides free federal and state filing, and since it's essentially Turbotax for the web, it can do most, if not all forms. It's even Mozilla friendly, or was last year. A good resource for those who need it.
  • Get a pro (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Monday January 05, 2004 @08:25PM (#7886310) Homepage Journal
    A professinal accountant may cost a little more, but they will usually find ways to reduce your tax burden above and beyond what any software could do.
    • Re:Get a pro (Score:3, Informative)

      Only if you have deductions...unless you have a house, family, investments, etc you won't find a professional any better...

      As a general rule, if you qualify for the 1040-EZ, you won't get any real advantage from a professional accountant...
      • Re:Get a pro (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ObviousGuy (578567)
        If you qualify for the 1040-EZ, you really ought to save the thirty bucks and just do it yourself.
        • That's my point...if you don't have to itemize, it won't matter who does your taxes...there are a lot of ppl here that will be in that boat...I would venture to say that most ppl here are under say 35 and rent and are either single or married with no children...

          The thing that most ppl forget is that if you make a deduction, you have to keep your records for at least 5 years. Meaning that if you bought a bunch of books and deducted them as a business expense, you have to keep reciepts for 5 years (or longe
      • I have a house, family, investments, extra income, you name it, and I will probably just use the TurboTax online. The tax pros are good the first time you file and itemize, but after the first time you'll feel like you're paying them while you do their work.

        My $0.02

    • It is easy to get lower taxes than any software - just be a hell of a lot less conservative on what you claim as a deduction (and pray for no audit)

      Actually - becareful, the Wall Street Journal annually sends a set of paperwork to 4 accountants/tax preparing firms to see what the tax bill will be. Turns out the ammount of tax owed as calculated by the four firms aren't even close. If I recall from last year the numbers were almost double from low to high

      Just remember there are numbers, accountants, an

    • I used a professional accountant my first year living in the US only for the IRS to send me a letter saying that I had overpaid my taxes by thousands of dollars (in addition to the $600 I paid the accountant)!

      The following year I did it myself with TurboTax - I actually found it quite satisfying.

  • TurboTax for the web [turbotax.com]. You can get pissed at the TOS, but I'd rather be safe than sorry when it comes to my taxes.
  • TaxAct (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gildenstern (62439) on Monday January 05, 2004 @08:33PM (#7886367)
    I've been using TaxAct since 1998 now. I've never had any problems with it and it seems to work well. It has a very nice interface. I get the 20 dollar version from their website. That gets me the State and Federal versions. I used Turbotax the year before and and this seem almost the same to me.

  • I don't understand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MerlynEmrys67 (583469) on Monday January 05, 2004 @08:33PM (#7886368)
    Company does something bad... People dump bad product - company cleans up act - why do you still want to boycott them.

    Personally I will be VERY happy to go back to TurboTax this year - TaxCut sucked horribly and I have liked TurboTax for almost a decade now

    Moral of the story - company does what I want them to - I will send my business back to them

    • by sfjoe (470510)

      I had the exact opposite experience. Turbotax worked just fine for me. Intuit became a gang of boneheads last year so I tried TaxCut. TaxCut also worked fine for me and H&R Block has little history of boneheadedness. I'll stick with TaxCut - who knows what the PHBs at Intuit are planning next time around.
    • Company does something bad... People dump bad product - company cleans up act - why do you still want to boycott them.
      There's an old saying: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
      • There's an old saying: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

        The way I heard it was:

        There's an old saying in Tennessee--I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee--that says, fool me once, shame on--shame on you. Fool me--you can't get fooled again.
      • That axiom implies that no one should ever be given a second chance. Even in the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the boy fooled the others more than once before they gave up on him.

        I think the axiom you stated has to do with a situation that hasn't changed.

        e.g.
        "Your shoelaces are untied."
        *looks*
        *gets flicked in the nose*
        ...
        "Your shoelaces are untied."
        *looks again*
        *gets flicked in the nose again*

    • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Monday January 05, 2004 @11:52PM (#7887823) Journal
      >why do you still want to boycott them.

      Because its the strongest thing you can say to future companies.

      Marketing guy A: "We should have a really restrictive DRM lock that requires the user to mail a sample of their blood."
      Marketing guy B: "Wait a second. Remember the mess TurboTax got into when they did something like that?"

      Alternative answer 1:
      Marketing guy A: "Yes. But they did it wrong. Look how they are doing now, didn't hurt them in the long run. We can try to introduce it in the sneaky and slow way which owners will accept. Even if its less than sucessful, we can always bounce back like they did."

      Alternative answer 2:
      Marketing guy A: "You mean from that dead product? The one idea that sank the entire company? Maybe you have a point, I would hate to follow in that company's steps"
      • You are forgetting the other scenario. Company A makes really bad move and does something like product activation. People start complaining and Marketting Guy A says "Why should we change now? Remember when TurboTax added activation and people complained? They took the activation out and people still boycotted the product. We might as well leave it in now and see if we can make it work." The whole idea of boycotting is to punish a company for doing something bad and to get them to correct their ways.
    • by Maple Syrup (27770)
      You know ... as much as I'd like to stay away from Turbo Tax to send Intuit a message ... I used TaxCut last year, and it was a truly awful experience.

      It's not that TaxCut was buggy, it's just that, unlike Turbo Tax, (where an ordinary human can understand the program's questions) the questions in the TaxCut "interview" were written *by* tax geeks *for* tax geeks.

      While my tax situation isn't complex enough to require a paid tax preparer, it's still complex enough to be easy to screw up. There were lots o
      • When I first used TurboTax (~4 years ago) it was great. Decent explanations, good UI. Then they changed the UI to a seudo web-browser. It was non-intuitive and buggy. Many of the explanations were better, but you had to go to a different screen to see them (they weren't along-side the item anymore, or in a popup window), and getting back to where you were often was a 3-page process involving re-entering numbers you've already entered. Their TOS was just a last straw for me. If they had stayed with a good UI
    • The problem is that they didn't do what I wanted them to.

      I wanted Intuit to clean up the software I bought from them last year. Intuit never did that, and they insulted me by telling me that I had an agenda beyond actually getting my taxes done.

      As a result, I put an in-house three-year moratorium on Intuit purchases. So I'm looking at new provider. From what I've read in this topic, it'll probably be TaxAct. I've heard that TaxCut spams its users, and TaxAct doesn't necessitate sending in those annoyi
    • The main reason is that they showed no remorse at all. Their whole response was that they didn't make a mistake; their customers just didn't understand how good their system was.

      Basically, they ruined whatever good reputation they had with their little stunt. I have no reason to believe that they won't do it again, except next time it'll be less visible (until, that is, you're hit with an IRS audit 4 years later and discover that you can't open your old files anymore).

    • Intuit's GM, Tom Allanson, wrote a letter of apology on TurboTax's Website [turbotax.com]. Since it is a javascript popup I can't directly link to it, but it is the link beneath the search box on the right hand side of the page. It is entitled "A message to our customers" or something along that line.

      Any company that comes out and puts something like that on their page AND THEN changes their license agreement to allow the software to be used on multiple machines is a winner in my eyes.

  • by reaper20 (23396) on Monday January 05, 2004 @08:39PM (#7886402) Homepage
    Except the fact that it's IE-only I've enjoyed using turbotax's web feature.

    I remembers past years and it takes me about 10 minutes to do my taxes. I pay the 15 dollar fee or whatever it is and I have my refund in 2 days. Not bad and I can knock it out the day I get my W2's.

    If you drink heavily afterward and try to remind yourself that it's not an ActiveX buttraping waiting to happen you get over it.
    • I'm pretty sure I used phoenix last year without any problems...
    • by hatless (8275)
      I've used Web TurboTax with Netscape/Mozilla browsers 2 of the last 3 years -- with Netscape 4.x under Linux one year, in fact, with no bugs at all. I can't promise it'll still be compatible this year, but it's never been Windows-only or IE-only for me. They might say it only works with IE, but that probably just means they won't give support for other browsers. Give it a try; you don't have to pay until your return is finished and ready for transmittal or printing, and if you make it through the first coup
    • I've never filed my taxes with IE (OMG I don't even trust IE to render most web pages properly, let alone to handle my finances), and I've filed on-line every year with TurboTax for-da-web (which doesn't have the same evil licensing). That whole "remember what you did last year" thing is pretty convenient, though you can supposedly disable that...
  • TurboTax claims to have a web-based application [turbotax.com].
  • I'd go with the in-browser [netfile.gc.ca] option. I used it last year, and had no problems. (I used Mozilla too) They also have a list of software [netfile.gc.ca] up.
    • Checked out the list of software and I'm going to use Cutetax [cutetax.ca] this year. It is low cost and because it is browser based it just might be GNU/Linux friendly.

      I'm a LOSURS [losurs.org] who brews his own beer. [thebrewhouse.com]

      • it just might be GNU/Linux friendly.

        The browser form from CCRA [netfile.gc.ca] is free (as in beer) and GNU/Linux friendly incase that wasn't clear. (Or at least it was last year, and my Moz 1.5 passes the test they have currently)
        • It was clear that the browser form from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency passes "the test" using Mozilla 1.5, but is that not only submitting your taxes? One still needs to prepare one's tax's.

          What is the point of preparing your tax's with Microsoft Windows Software like Quicktax and then switching to GNU/Linux to submit the result. I would like to do both with Mozilla and GNU/Linux.

          • (missed your reply, sorry for the delay)

            The thing I used last year, was a form in my browser, that was set up exactly like the paper document that you can file, except that it lead you from one box to the next like Quicktax does, afterwards you could save the content in a file that you could review in Quicktax if you felt the need. So Quicktax wasn't needed to prepare it, or in any stage of the process. But it was still an option.
            • Fantastic!
              Windows free tax reporting from my home.
              I will look for it on the cira website.
              • Finally I found something about this service [netopia.com] (unfortunately about last year's taxes, but I hope the same service will be available). I couldn't remember what it was called, but it was 'Webfile'.
                • What's the difference between Webfile and Netfile?

                  NetFile is a means of filing your tax return with the CCRA over the Internet. In order to netfile, your tax return must be prepared using certified tax software. Certification is a rigorous testing procedure required by and undertaken with the CCRA to ensur
  • This was covered previously [slashdot.org] . I didn't dig through the comments but there may be a lead in there. I don't know how helpful this is since the story is from 1999. I have yet to find Linux tax software that I like. I am assuming you are in the USA. The biggest problem with finding a steady vendor for tax software is that the laws change from year to year, requiring an overhaul of the program. I've seen plenty of projects here one year and gone the next for that very reason. I've had to resort to web based ta
  • I've been using TaxAct since 1997. Great software. $19.95 gets you the federal + 1 state edition.

    Best part: You can file as many paper returns as you need for free. Filing online is free for the first federal+state, and I think it's $7.95 for each additional filing (max of 1 free + 4 additional).

    The downloadable version is Windows only. However, they do have an online web-based edition here. [taxact.com]

  • I've used TaxACT [taxact.com] the past couple of years. It's web-based, and costs nothing if your taxes are (like mine) really simple (and, like me, you don't have a state income tax). I don't know of any solution that (1) runs on free software, and (2) is itself free software, so that pretty much limits me to using a web-based service.
  • Tax Act is the bomb (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcgroarty (633843) <brian,mcgroarty&gmail,com> on Monday January 05, 2004 @08:58PM (#7886588) Homepage
    I used TaxAct last year. It's free for Federal, though you want to purchase State. Split the cost with a couple friends if you like -- there's no protection, and one of their engineers actually suggested this (or said he thought many did it) off the record.

    It was very easy to use and about as enjoyable as software can get before telling you that you owe a couple hundred bucks to someone. There wasn't any ambiguity -- it explains every step concisely, and even gives some tax saving tips for the coming year when you're through.

    I was done in about ten minutes, and didn't feel anything had been unclear or "weird." The interface impressed me enough that I sent some feedback about it. (Least Painful Windows App Ever)

    I'm looking forward to using Tax Act again this year; it promises to import last year's data so I should pretty much just have to punch in my W2, some money earned on the side, and then be done with it.

    btw -- Anyone tried it with Wine?

    • Re: Filing for friends/family...

      It's not really off the record. They state on their web site that you can file 1 free federal tax return + up to 4 additional federal returns using one copy of the software...

    • by cookiepus (154655) on Monday January 05, 2004 @09:59PM (#7887016) Homepage
      While it's great to hear positive user reviews about the software, I think I am suspicious of the fact that it took you 10 minutes to complete the process. It sounds like you've got a very simple tax case, in which case any software will do fine.

      BTW: for simple cases, under certain levels of income (about 25k I think) you can do your taxes for free on TurboTax.com (or could do it in years past, anyway)

      Now here's the deal. I was a dependant for half of 2003, but then I got a full time job in May. I was a resident of NYC for half of that year, and half of the year I was not. I have a W2, and some 1099's. Some business expenses. Some charitable donations. I paid for college. I invested in a 401k....

      With these more complex tax situations, it's not going to take you 10 minutes to file no matter what software you use. In fact, in the past I noticed that after all the permutations, where was no way that TurboTax and TaxCut agreed on how much my return should be

      (I was running TaxCut on the PC and TurboTax on the website, they've got their full version on the website and it's free around to fuck around with, just costs money to file once you're ready)

      I believe that last year, TaxCut gave me a better refund. It's just a question of what items of the tax law the software is aware of. I certainly know fuck-all about it. Until Tax Cut asked me whether I had put more miles on my car for business purposes than I did for going to the store (something of that nature anyway) I didn't know that shit would have any relevance to my tax return whatsoever.

      If you have a tax situation of any complexity, using the right software makes financial difference. If all you've got is a W2 then you're probably OK using any of them.

      I'd like to see some feedback as to who had a good experience with any of these programs when it came to tax nuance.

      • My program is named "CPA", and he lives just across town. Preparation costs about $200, but that includes managing stock transactions, corporate dividends, employee taxes, and other stuff that no tax package anywhere could possibly get right.

        I am radically pro-accountant when it comes to taxes. Mine is honest to the point of pedanticism, which means that I know my taxes have been filed correctly without any shady "let's move this line over here..."-type stuff. And in the event that something does go wr

      • If you have a tax situation of any complexity, using the right software makes financial difference. If all you've got is a W2 then you're probably OK using any of them.

        If you have a tax situation of any complexity, you should consider hiring somebody to prepare your taxes. And I mean somebody with some serious training, not one of those H&R Block idiots. It won't pay for everybody, but if you miss a lot of legitimate deductions, not hiring a good preparer is false economy. And if you're self-employed,

    • I also used the free TaxAct last year -- the web based version. My taxes were somewhat more complicated, including my consulting revenue and business expenses. TaxAct was very simple and straight forward to use. I paid the extra few dollars to have it do my state taxes as well. Filing was electronic and free. I received my refunds in 2-3 weeks. You also downloaded a copy for your records as an Adobe PDF file. I was very pleased with the results and plan to use it again this year.
  • running on linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by itwerx (165526) <itwerx@gmail.com> on Monday January 05, 2004 @09:08PM (#7886668) Homepage
    Registration issues not withstanding, I've had good luck getting TurboTax to run under Wine.
    (And besides, they've repented, why keep bitching about it? They do a good job.)
  • I've been using Linux for some time now, and there's little chance of my giving it up, but I still can't STOP using Windows. My taxes are complicated enough that there's no way I'd give up the benefits of TurboTax unless it's for something equivalent or better.

    Where does Stallman think a free (as in yadda, yadda), reliable, continually updated TurboTax clone is going to come from? How does Stallman do *his* taxes (assuming he even does them)?

    • I'd also love and pay well (up to 2x the price of windoze software!) to be able to get a copy of quality Linux tax software.

      What would be interesting is if someone made a FOSS project that did everything but the specializations inherent between state and federal [and potentially other countries]. It'd then be up to a legally certified group to provide files [strucured with XML?] that provides the list of specializations (e.g. what counts as a deduction, the various worksheets, etc.).

      There is a common t

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Where does Stallman think a free (as in yadda, yadda), reliable, continually updated TurboTax clone is going to come from?

      I don't know about RMS, but I think the software would come from the same place as all other free software: from developers who write code. After all, the free software community has developed all kinds of software, even a whole operating system. Some of the brightest computer minds of our generation are involved in writing free software. Tax software isn't exactly rocket science. The
      • I think you're dramatically underestimating the business logic involved in a tax program. How many rule sets can you think of that are as convoluted and byzantine as the US Federal Tax Code? You're dismissing the hard stuff with the wave of a hand and then focusing on the easy stuff. (Except for the liability part, which you correctly identify as a huge issue.)

        And even with a small army of testers, so many issues still slip past QA that the first thing TurboTax does when you start it up is look for new
    • My taxes are complicated enough that there's no way I'd give up the benefits of TurboTax unless it's for something equivalent or better.

      How about using the online version?

      I filed online with H & R block (which is Kiplinger's TaxCut behind the scenes, IIRC) the past two years. I did have to use a Windows box at the end to download a PDF, because their software was too dumb to understand that I had a PDF viewer installed on my Linux box. Otherwise, it went ok.

  • by BigBir3d (454486)
    I go to the library (live in CT) and get the forms, go home, spend some quality time with the TI-81 graphing calculator that gets used exactly one time per year (original batteries from 1993 by the way), a pencil, staples, and a manilla envelope when I'm done. There are very few things I don't trust a computer to do. My taxes are one of them.

    Security through obscurity I suppose.

    The nice thing is I can do the state form on the phone, and the fed form isn't a big deal as I don't own a house yet. One W2,
    • by sfjoe (470510)


      If you don't notice the $20, why not sign up for a payroll deduction into a 401(k) or some sort of interest-bearing account? You'll still end up with the ~ $1,000 PLUS interest instead of giving Uncle Sugar an interest-free loan for a year.
      • fwiw i do have a 401(k) account. of course the (my projection) market slump at the end of this year will make that account worthless as a earner goes... :(

        also, my job has bonuses, of large amounts, that can bump my overall tax bracket up for the year (similar to being on commission). that extra money usually comes back, but not every year. cya i say.
  • by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Monday January 05, 2004 @09:26PM (#7886783) Journal

    That a tax system that requires spending money on complication-processing software, or having to hire an accountant/tax preparer, is a tax system in dire need of reform?
    • Aw, c'mon, it's not that bad. Although I really wish they'd rewrite the 6a question: "If your parents can claim you then do not check box C.

      Would it really be that hard to rewrite the command as "Check box C if you finally moved out of your parent's basement.".
    • Death to the IRS....Viva La VAT [cato.org]!!!
    • What is incredulous to me is that I _HAVE_ to pay to e-file. e-filing makes the whole process easier for everyone, so WHY SHOULD I PAY TO DO IT???? I can file a paper return for free, which ends up costing the government more since they have to hire people to handle it.

      But instead the government uses my taxpayer dollars to send out postcards encouraging people to buy software like TurboTax or pay accountants like H&R Block to file electronically.

      Free e-filing should pretty much be a right, IMHO.
      • Free E-file:
        http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=11 8986,00.h tml

        Not up yet, but a bunch of different sites offer free e-filing based on your income for the year. Last year I was able to use Turbo Tax for the web for free. Probably won't this year since I worked the whole year instead of only half the year.

        It was pretty much the "full" version of their software, just didn't do the over zealous look into your deductions. I was able to file my state and federal free.
      • You don't have to pay to e-file. I got my copy of TaxCut Deluxe last week, and besides the full rebate on the state copy, I also got a coupon for a full rebate on the e-filing fee.
    • That a tax system that requires spending money on complication-processing software, or having to hire an accountant/tax preparer, is a tax system in dire need of reform?

      Welcome to America !!
      You must be new here. The thing I dread most from our government is when congress decides to "simplify" the tax code.
      It's no wonder that things are the way they are. Any country that allows itself to be governed by a committee of lawyers is in trouble by definition.

    • My wife wants her government to have a web site that says:

      This is what we think you owe us / we owe you.

      Of course, only free software should be trusted for such a system. Their PDF forms online are a great start, but much more can be done.

  • I had dinner with someone who is a salesman in Intuit. They absolutely will not pull crap like that again. They know they lost a lot of business to Tax Cut and will be working to get those customers back this year. No Worries.
  • I've used it for about four years now. Works fine.

    No, there's no Linux version, but I use my wife's Win98SE PC for it and it takes me less than an hour to go through everything and print out the forms. It's a free download for the basic version, but if you buy a house or need forms not included with the free download the more complete version they sell is quite reasonably priced.

  • by MrWa (144753)
    Where are the bad reviews and bugs in TaxCut?
  • I didn't know anybody on slashdot had actually gotten a paycheck in the past 3 or so years!
  • They charge a lot of money for this software. Last I checked (this changes every year though) they want you to pay to e-file.

    Alternativly, you can do it all by hand on the free paper they send you, and for the cost of 2 stamps (normally my return is just more than one stamp) you can send it in. It doesn't actually take that much longer because the bulk of the work is getting all the papers you need no matter who/what does your taxes. (Okay, it takes me twice as long, but only cause I do it twice, the s

  • In Germany we got 205 laws and approx. 96 000 regulations dealing only with taxes.
    You definitely need a pro AND a programm, if you want to save money.

    A side node:
    60 % of the world tax literature is written in german for Germany.
    It seems as we invented the damn thing!
    • One of those tax rulings bears my name, apparently. The accountant at my Munich employer (Molex GmbH, Dingolfingerstrasse 80) filed an appeal to return my taxes when I worked there for 4 months in 1991 or 1992 (can't remember which), won, and sent me a cheque for DM 3,000.- ... I was a very happy young man as she hadn't even told me that she was doing this. I filed for myself years later when I returned and lived in Ruesselsheim, Hessen, using Turbotax. I agree; German tax law is inordinately complex but
  • I used it for the first time last year (previously had used TurboTax, passed on it after the problems last year) and didn't have any trouble with it that I recall.
  • Cheaper than TurboTax, relatively EULA-friendly, and trouble-free if you make sure to download all the available updates. TC's been balky out of the box on a couple occasions (I've used since '99), but the automatic updates have set it right each time.
  • I used Taxwiz [taxwiz.ca] last year, and plan to do so again ... its cheap ($10) and I e-filed straight from the program.

    Quick and dirty.
  • On slashdot, everyone talks about what is the best tax software, but no one seems to mention much whether or not tax software is the best for your situation.
    The thing to remember is that tax law is very, very complicated, and tax software is programmed to work for the lowest common denominator of user. Thus the software is not neccisarily going to give you the biggest refund. And more importently, the tax software cannot give you advice on how to best position yourself to reduce your tax liabilty i
  • I used Intuit until the activation feature came along then swithed to tax cut. Wait for the in-store box. You get a number of rebates (free state / free e-filing). Turbo tax fscked me hard. They required IE5.5 (or IE6.0) update which could be uninstalled after filing. At the time, IE 6 was (and still is) buggy so I reverted back to 5.0. Now I cannot upgrade to 5.5 and cannot install M$ updates / drm backdoors. IE is beyond fscked. It has no idea what version is installed. The IE component has redist
  • I maintain my financial records meticulously using Intuit Quicken. They issue annual "upgrades" that generally offer little new functionality, so I upgrade only every 3rd year or so. This year I found that Intuit's Taxcut (slightly better UI in my experience) now REQUIRES you to upgrade to the latest 2004 version of Quicken for its most-automated data transfer functionality. Not even Quicken 2003 will work! So I think it's time to drop Taxcut, and probably Quicken!
    • I believe you are confusing TaxCut and TurboTax. TurboTax is published by Intuit. Btw, Quicken comes with all Macs and TurboTax runs on OS X, so at least one *nix system is covered :)
  • I have been using Turbo Tax on the Mac (formerly Macintax) for 10 years or so. I have been incredibly pleased with the product. Given the importance of doing your taxes right and given the fact they have corrected the issue in question.. I would reward them by continuing to be their customer. Don't you want to support companies that listen to their customer base and respond in a positive manner?
  • I will definitely not use Turbo Tax.. I switched to TaxCut last year because of the Intuit fiasco. (I spent several hours trying to clean the c-dilla junk from my parents computer over the holidays, reinforcing my disdain for their tactics.)

    But, my problem with TaxCut is that they make you play the rebate game for state tax software. They don't offer a combined Federal/State package. And, even if you buy both from their WWW site, downloading the software, they still make you pay full price for the sta
    • I agree that TT had issue with giving you "free State" software, then requiring you to mail in a rebate form in order to claim the $$.

      The kind folks at Intuit ("D. Jerry") have just informed me that if you buy the boxed version of TT this year at a local store (the Deluxe or Premiere versions, of course) then you will still have to fill out and mail in the rebate form. If, on the other hand, you purchase the download OR boxed version of TT directly from Intuit, then you don't have to fill out the rebate

  • I've dickered around with both the online forms & the paper forms. I admit that I found the paper forms somewhat confusing at first. But I stuck with it.
    - The computer tax software doesn't get me any more of a deduction than what I get on my own.
    - I understand all of the questions & what is legal & not legal.
    - I know how to modify my behavior for the rest of the year.
    - It only cost postage. [Unless you are working on an open source salary ;) there is no free Federal tax software.]
  • Your choice of software (an installed client or website) or ink pen and paper (never use a pencil) entirely depends on two things: your specific financial situation and how fast you want a refund (if you're entitled to one). I will continue to use TurboTax, not because it's better than the other packages but because I like its interview-style approach, it plays well with Quicken and I've never had a problem with electronic filing. Yeah, I was pissed at Intuit for the lock, which turned into a major pain i
  • I've used Tax Cut the last 3 years. I used to do them manually, but These days, I have investment income/losses (trying to do that from the IRS instructions gave me a headache) and my income is borderline enough that I don't know how much I can contribute to my IRA account, so having the totals update in real time when I try "what if" scenarios for deductions is great.

    Some people have complained about the way it's structured, and I slightly agree. It seems to be designed for people that have all their f

  • I used TurboTax for many years but used TaxCut last year (2002) after they Put C-DillA spyware into the program. TaxCut worked well (it lacked 1 form I needed) but TurboTax seemed to be a little more user friendly. I publish several free internet newsletters, "Dr M's Computer Tip List" and also "Dr M's Computer Tips"and have told my subscribers that the link to eliminate that C-Dilla spyware is still available even though Intuit no longer lists it on their web site. Go to: http://support.turbotax.com/kb/Vie
  • Seriously, getting an accountant to do your taxes is well worth the money and not as expensive as you might think. Tax software that I have seen is not that effective at getting every last drop out of available deductions and credits. Yes, tax software might cost you $50 and an accountant $300-500, but you stand to gain a lot more in return. This is especially true if you are: self-employed, own a business, are married, have children, own property, have investments or anything else beyond being single, livi
  • If I could do it for free, I'd be a card carrying cheapskate, so I am loathe to pay for tax prep software.

    However, my tax situation is a bit more complicated than the EZ form, so I've been paying for tax prep for the past few years.

    I have found that typically in mid-January you can begin to see deals for the Federal and State versions of Tax Cut along with free e-filing and including MS Money (if you're so inclined) for approx $25USD after rebate.

    It's been money well spent.

    Just my .02

    Regards,
    Anomaly
  • Check with your state, but Marylanders can efile at no cost through the treasurer's website. [marylandtaxes.com]

  • according to the IRS website, [irs.gov] the government, through a cooperative agreement with private industry will provide free e-filing to at least 60% of taxpayers. Exactly how to accomplish this has not yet been published, but it should be on line soon. Respectfully, Anomaly

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