Tax Software, which one?

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I was sure this would already be a topic so I did a search on here and I apologize if this is a duplicate. Assuming you do your own taxes using software, how does everyone determine which tax software to use? Is it based on price? Features? Does it even matter? I've used TaxAct in the past and wanted opinions on if its worth looking into other products or continuing on with what always has been.

Thanks!

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I have been filing with TaxAct for over 4 yrs now (once my returns $ matches with TurboTax), as TaxAct been little cheap... (more)

IndianInUSA (Mar. 27, 2013 @ 4:04p) |

It is depended on what tax form your are filing filling.

albermthomas (Apr. 05, 2013 @ 1:26a) |

Are you sure? http://turbotax.intuit.com/small-business-taxes/forms-business.jsp

NEDeals (Apr. 05, 2013 @ 10:19a) |

Many IRS revenue agents I know use TurboTax
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I use tax act as well. Seems to be the cheapest option and a good one since Tsxact is free even for more complicated returns.. I compared to the HR block free software a few years ago and preferred Tsxact. Haven't tried any others though.

have a friend who used TaxAct but had some confusion. ended up using the Help portion in my TurboTax because it addressed the confusion better.

I've used TaxAct for years and swear by it.

i used TaxAct but i'm just gonna do it free online this year.

if you enter the same information into all of them you should pretty much get the same return, unless there's a bug in the tax software.

I always use TurboTax, but I don't like the fact that they have this screen at the final check-out page that tries to scam a $29.95 fee out of you just to take your $19.95 state return fees out of your return check vs. using a credit card, where there is $0 fee.

That said, there are some new free return options for this year. if you make less than $57,000, you can even use the software - see more at the IRS page here.

I've been using TaxAct for 3 years now. I always lock in the deal for ~$13. No problems so far. In the past, I had to go to the H&R Block office and pay $180+ for the same service.

I've used the H&R Block Tax Cut Deluxe software. Used it for many years. It works for me so why bother to change.

I have used TaxAct for a few years now, it works for me and it is free. Why pay if there is free software that can do it for you. It works great even for "complicated" tax returns. It will make you pay to do state returns but honestly if you are smart enough and can just piggyback off of how you did the returns in the past you can just do those for free as well online through your state dept of revenue site.

Thanks everyone!

I alternated between TurboTax and H&R Block At Home (used to be called TaxCut) when I first started using PC tax software. I couldn't really tell the difference, so I settled on H&R Block At Home since I can get it cheaper. Since I have to wait to file my taxes anyway, I watch the price on Amazon and jump when it gets cheap. Just got At Home Premium for $23 (Deluxe would have taken care of my taxes, but it was more epensive). The one thing I did notice during the years when I was switching between them is that they did seem to have problems importing the previous years data from the other's product. No such problem now that I'm not switching.

I've used this guy's free excel spread sheet for the past 6 or 7 years: http://www.excel1040.com/ I don't believe in paying to file my taxes, but I like this set-up since it does all the math for me. He seems to be good at what he does and regularly updates based on errors others send in.

I use my own spreadsheet to do my taxes. Then when it's time to file, I make sure H&R Block didn't make any mistakes in their software

But really all tax software is the same. I'm only using HRB because it's always cheaper for the same thing (and often FAR after late March) and I'm comfortable with it. I've never even tried any others.

biomedeng said:   I've used this guy's free excel spread sheet for the past 6 or 7 years: http://www.excel1040.com/ I don't believe in paying to file my taxes, but I like this set-up since it does all the math for me. He seems to be good at what he does and regularly updates based on errors others send in.

That spreadsheet is pretty awesome. I like that everything is right there and i don't have to click through a GUI to try to find what i want. Thanks!

I have used HR block for several years but it has one big headache if you upgrade your computer. You need to keep your old software disks and reinstall them in the new computer if not be prepared to buy the last years software disks again.
Guess they wanted to make extra money of their loyal customers, the solution may be to switch to TurboTax when you need to switch to a new computer and only kept last years tax files.

Another happy Tax Act user here. I started with them a couple years ago when un/under-employment dropped my income low enough to get the free filing. I got an offer late last year to lock in at $13.95 for federal and state e-filing and figured it was not worth the time to seek out a cheaper alternative. The import feature saved some time. The only annoyance is that it did not remember how much I paid in state tax last year, so I had to search my records to claim the deduction for this year.

I did my taxes on Jan 26th and they were nice enough to use my return in one of the test batches to the IRS and transmitted it right away instead of waiting until Jan 30th. Refund hit my bank account this morning.

been using tax act after MS money stopping coming FAR with TaxCut/HR Block. been happy.

they are all the same behind the scenes. you are just paying for a GUI. if one gets a bigger return than another there's a bug or your typed something wrong.

I use the IRS Freefile site. I get a list of sites that will prepare and file the federal return for free and then choose whichever is least expensive for the state return.

I really liked TaxAct but got a free H&R Block software in the mail this year so I used it. I thought TaxAct was better. Just smoother.

TaxAct has both the fill-in the blanks and interview type of data gathering, plus the deluxe edition lets you use the forms entered from last year. Even has both the form instruction sheet and the relevant tax guide linked to any form you're working on...

I thought I was the only one using TaxAct!
I have been using it for 8+ years, always buying the $13 deluxe download version. The advantage is they take phone calls and a knowledgeable human guides you through if you have any questions. Initially I had a lot of forms to attach but now I am too lazy to get new software and the ability to automatically transfer information from previous year's return is the reason I am sticking with them.

The answer really depends on your situation. If all that you have is a couple of W2's, interest income and some simple itemized deductions (mortgage interest, property taxes, state income taxes/sales taxes, etc...), it really makes no difference what tax software you use. It is all going to be pretty simple and straightforward regardless of the tax software package.

For more complex tax situations, your only choice will generally only be TurboTax and you generally won't even be able to use its online versions. I've previously tried using other tax software as well as the online version of TurboTax (the online version of TurboTax is missing a number of advanced features that are included on TT's disks) and it all tells me that the situation is too complex for it.

By the way, regardless of the software package that you end up using, I would strongly encourage you to wait a while before you finalize your return and file. Every single year we have threads springing up along the lines of "oh no, I filed last week and now a 1099 for bank interest that I forgot all about just showed up. I now have to amend the return."

Even more importantly, every single year every tax software package has a number of patches that get applied in February and March. While most of the patches don't really affect the final result, some patches can and do. For the past few years, for instance, I've noticed some things that TurboTax wasn't handling correctly and gotten TurboTax to patch it up. In one of those instances, the resulting swing in our tax liability was about $1,000.

I have used TaxAct, HR Block's program (actually using that one this year since it came in the mail for free, no clue why), & TurboTax. They're all about the same to me, just fine. Then again I have an accounting degree & have prepared returns for a living, so sort of child's play.

rpi1967 said:   I have used HR block for several years but it has one big headache if you upgrade your computer. You need to keep your old software disks and reinstall them in the new computer if not be prepared to buy the last years software disks again.
Guess they wanted to make extra money of their loyal customers, the solution may be to switch to TurboTax when you need to switch to a new computer and only kept last years tax files.


You can always do your taxes in a virtual machine (VM). While it does take up storage space for the virtual hard drive, it is completely portable and storage is cheap. I've been using a virtual machine for my tax software for a few years now without any issues, plus I keep a copy of the VM offsite in a safe deposit box. It takes the PC hardware aspect out of the equation.

stardent said:   I thought I was the only one using TaxAct!
I have been using it for 8+ years, always buying the $13 deluxe download version. The advantage is they take phone calls and a knowledgeable human guides you through if you have any questions. Initially I had a lot of forms to attach but now I am too lazy to get new software and the ability to automatically transfer information from previous year's return is the reason I am sticking with them.


I thought I was one of the few as well. I'm glad to hear that its comparable to the largely marketed TurboTax and HR Block software. I think this year i'll go with TaxAct again put also use that excel spread sheet for comparison.

DaveTheStud said:   I have used TaxAct for a few years now, it works for me and it is free. Why pay if there is free software that can do it for you. It works great even for "complicated" tax returns. It will make you pay to do state returns but honestly if you are smart enough and can just piggyback off of how you did the returns in the past you can just do those for free as well online through your state dept of revenue site.

When you guys are saying TaxAct is free for "complicated" returns, what exactly does that mean?

Does TaxAct online allow you to do free federal & state returns?

NotSoHard said:   rpi1967 said:   I have used HR block for several years but it has one big headache if you upgrade your computer. You need to keep your old software disks and reinstall them in the new computer if not be prepared to buy the last years software disks again.
Guess they wanted to make extra money of their loyal customers, the solution may be to switch to TurboTax when you need to switch to a new computer and only kept last years tax files.


You can always do your taxes in a virtual machine (VM). While it does take up storage space for the virtual hard drive, it is completely portable and storage is cheap. I've been using a virtual machine for my tax software for a few years now without any issues, plus I keep a copy of the VM offsite in a safe deposit box. It takes the PC hardware aspect out of the equation.
That's exactly what I do. But I've never needed to use any version older than 1 year. Also I keep PDFs of old returns, so there's really no need for the old software.

But if you really want to keep it, you don't need to keep the CDs -- just copy their contents to your hard drive and/or a backup drive. It's not that big (<100MB/yr recently).

trekwars2000 said:   DaveTheStud said:   I have used TaxAct for a few years now, it works for me and it is free. Why pay if there is free software that can do it for you. It works great even for "complicated" tax returns. It will make you pay to do state returns but honestly if you are smart enough and can just piggyback off of how you did the returns in the past you can just do those for free as well online through your state dept of revenue site.

When you guys are saying TaxAct is free for "complicated" returns, what exactly does that mean?
That's a very good question (and one that I can't answer, as I just know that TaxAct can't handle our tax return) but one that isn't always easy to answer. That's because no tax software tells you "this is too complicated for us." Instead, you typically get a message that they don't have the form(s) required to complete your return and that you should use one of their "preferred tax preparers" instead (yeah, right!).

By the way, even to the extent that tax software can handle a more advanced question, the support that you get typically ends up being pretty minimal, at least in my experience. Instead of the usual polished interface and questions with explanations, you'll start getting questions the way that they are phrased on the tax forms but without any explanations or context. You may even be told that the "interview" portion of the interface isn't supported in this particular tax area and get switched to "forms." So, just because tax software might support a certain situation doesn't necessarily mean that you'll see much guidance there.

The vast majority of situations that people encounter are easily handled by all tax software, however. There is nothing particularly complicated or advanced about regular stock or mutual fund purchases and sale, W2's, 1099's, mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, sales tax/state income tax deduction, home office deductions (in appropriate versions of tax software), straightforward rental income situations (in appropriate versions of tax software), child care credits, IRA contributions, etc... All these situations are pretty routine and tend to be handled with relative ease by tax software.

scripta said:   Also I keep PDFs of old returns, so there's really no need for the old software.One of many advantages of having old tax software handy (and the reason that old tax software still costs quite a bit to buy) is that if you ever find yourself needing to file an amendment, you'll need the software for the year in question to run the calculations for you.

Further, if you are ever audited, it is very useful to run through that year's software to see what exactly was entered and how it ended up getting shown on paper.

I've used H&R Block for over 10 years now. I already got the software at Amazon on sale in early January, but this year I am going to do both H&R Block and TaxAct to compare.

A few years ago I compared Turbo and H&R Block. After completing all possible questions in each software package, the federal refund on H&R Block was somehow higher than Turbo by about $300. Maybe I missed a questions in TurboTax? Regardless I've used H&B Block since then. Will do a comparison again this year and see if there is really a [big] difference in refund or $$$ owed to IRS. Please share your findings if you've done such a comparison.

Mark my vote for TaxAct. I get their preview edition in September or October every year and use it for year end planning.

I've used TaxAct for a number of years now. I think it is one of the better deals. The online ultimate version includes Federal and State e-file ($18). The deluxe & ultimate versions also include some decent tax help. It can be annoying going through all the interview questions but if your return doesn't change much from year to year you can skip to the parts that apply to you. The forms can be examined directly but the form view is limited until you pay and then they can be fully accessed. It seems like it should be able to handle the majority of personal tax returns out there but keep in mind that it does not have all the answers--especially if you have a unique tax situation.

I used Turbo Tax & Tax Cut(H&R Block now I think?) years ago and liked them too but they were more money. Note: I believe some financial institutions provide Turbo Tax, etc. to their customers for a reduced cost or possibly free?

biomedeng said:   I've used this guy's free excel spread sheet for the past 6 or 7 years: http://www.excel1040.com/ I don't believe in paying to file my taxes, but I like this set-up since it does all the math for me. He seems to be good at what he does and regularly updates based on errors others send in.

WOW! This guy is AMAZING!!!! Why no one know about him???? He is a real talent.

GREAT FIND! Many thanks.

Tintin

Motivator said:   A few years ago I compared Turbo and H&R Block. After completing all possible questions in each software package, the federal refund on H&R Block was somehow higher than Turbo by about $300. Maybe I missed a questions in TurboTax? Regardless I've used H&B Block since then. Will do a comparison again this year and see if there is really a [big] difference in refund or $$$ owed to IRS. Please share your findings if you've done such a comparison.Probably. You can just go line by line on the 1040, starting with taxable income. Your own mistake should not be a reason to chose one software over another, unless it actually didn't ask the right questions.

Motivator said:   A few years ago I compared Turbo and H&R Block. After completing all possible questions in each software package, the federal refund on H&R Block was somehow higher than Turbo by about $300. Maybe I missed a questions in TurboTax? Regardless I've used H&B Block since then. Will do a comparison again this year and see if there is really a [big] difference in refund or $$$ owed to IRS. Please share your findings if you've done such a comparison.Do you use the Pimp edition or the OG edition? Can it generate K-1s for the H's?

Motivator said:   A few years ago I compared Turbo and H&R Block. After completing all possible questions in each software package, the federal refund on H&R Block was somehow higher than Turbo by about $300. Maybe I missed a questions in TurboTax? Regardless I've used H&B Block since then.What made you think that the tax software that displayed the more favorable result in your case was correct?

To me, if I get different answers from two different sources, I don't just blindly assume that the answer that benefits me the most must be correct. Instead, I examine them both to determine the reason for the difference. The reason that I do this is to minimize the likelihood that something silly, like a data entry error, caused one of the answers to be more favorable and that I'll have to face consequences as a result.

Skipping 11 Messages...
cme10ae said:   I've always used TurboTax. This year I need to file form 8594 and was surprised to find TT doesn't include this form in any level of their software. TaxAct does, and it costs less. I'm switching.

Are you sure? http://turbotax.intuit.com/small-business-taxes/forms-business.jsp



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