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Comparing Tax Software - Turbotax, H&R Block At Home And Taxcut

Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 9:53 AM
From Money Under 30:
Due to the way different companies bundle and price their software, the best value for my return may not be the best for yours. TurboTax and H&R Block at Home both offer complete solutions, usable software, and full-featured support, but come at a cost. TaxAct provides an affordable option for simple returns.
Read more

What tax software do you use?
7
Ken TuminKen Tumin5,469 posts since
Nov 29, 2009
Rep Points: 125,053
1. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 10:47 AM
What ever happened to the "DIYS" (Do It YourSelf") hardware?  I have never used or needed any of  those other softwares and do fine with just using my own "brain".  I just don't "modernize" too well and prefer learning how to do things myself like in the olden days before the computer.  I must admit I did have to use the computer's Fill-in forms only because the blasted IRS never got any of my forms to me (they came last week!) and I did use the forms on internet but mailed them in.  I noticed on my bank checking account that within 3 days of mailing they had gotten the forms and estimated tax check for next year had already been deposited and cleared.  I guess they get so few mailed in forms that they can do them faster now.
5
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
2. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 12:52 PM
Paoli2, I agree. Frankly, I have tested the software, and it is deficient, misses things, makes mistakes. And from what I've read, they all have errors in them. When I tested, I found there was no way to take a deduction to which I was entitled. The software had just overlooked it, there was no way to enter it. With another one, it said I was due a penalty that no, I was not due! 

I recommend anyone using the software to first do it on paper yourself, Then plug that into the software, and if the end numbers are not the same, look very closely - and from my experience, you will probably find that the software is what is wrong, not your calculations.

And besides that, you will learn a lot more if you do it yourself, and so you will be more aware of all the things you might take advantage of (or have to report), whereas if you let the software do it  all, you won't have the slightest idea what's what. 

As an aside, I find it offensive that the government is trying to push people to buy this privately produced software, rather than the government simply providing tax software online for free that it makes. Why can't the government just put out its own tax software no differently than it puts out the printed forms? I shouldn't have to pay for tax software any more than I should have to pay for printed forms. I shouldn't have to pay anything in order to be able to pay my taxes.
8
me1004me1004370 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,568
3. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 1:20 PM
I think it depends on what forms, what schedules, how many states you have income from, any business deductions, any short or long term capitol gains or loss, depreciation, basis for RMD's, gift forms, if you had more than one job and overpaid in FICA taxes, farm operations and what type of income you have from that, rental properties, home office deductions, Roth conversions.  Some people have more that just income from working, social security, pensions and IRA, interest, with standard deductions or deductions using for the longer forms. I have used a program for several years when 2 CPA's made a simple mistake 2 years in a row on savings bond interest and using a basis with a RMD on an inherited IRA. Both were upset because I made them do it over. We had complicated reimbursements for business expenses at the time also for working out of town with home offices. I did not want to tackle that. We have used all of the above samples at one time or another. I prefer a program. Last year because they did not have form 8606 available with the on line program they showed me how to download on my computer and when I lost all of my input there was no charge for deluxe federal or state programs and both had free e-file. This year they sent me a link to purchase the program again and both the federal deluxe and state and e-file for each and it cost me $19.99 plus tax. I have used the small business one in the past and because of capitol gains and loss for next year I think I have to use the next step up. When I am answering the question and if I need to upgrade the program will let you know, and tell you how much it will cost and give you a choice to quit or go on. You don't pay until you are through.  I love that they sent me a link this year that will be available on April 15, to use to put my 2014 income in it. I will be able to put in income, interest, RMD with a basis, gains and losses it will give me a very good estimate of my refund. 
I know too many seniors that pay $50 to have it done when they could have it done for free by registered tax agents that work at the libraries or senior centers. I also know others whose income are too high to have it done for free and pay anywhere from $125 to $800 to have it done. The estimate I had to have mine done this year was between $400 and $500. I will use a program and do it for a lot less. They have the community that can help, CPA's and tax lawyers all for free when you have tax questions or program questions. I love that the programs will fill out the correct schedule for you, do the social security computation for the worksheets, (even though it isn't always necessary) does the earned income credit if needed, when your deductions are reduced by income they take care of it and more etc. IRA rebates if you qualify, education credit etc.
I have used several programs and always go back to Turbo Tax. 
4
Ally6770Ally6770909 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,643
4. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 1:31 PM
me1004, Why shouldn't the government provide its own  tax software online ...Have you already forgotten about the Obamacare fiasco?
7
FARFAR106 posts since
Feb 26, 2013
Rep Points: 381
5. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 1:44 PM
No I have not, nor have I forgotten the Part D fiasco. It was over a year and that still wasn't fixed. I saw senior crying in the pharmacies when they had receipts and the computers said they had no insurance. Our governor encouraged our legislators to pass laws to pay all pharmaceuticals if the seniors had receipts of payment. The insurance companies finally paid the federal gov who had reimbursed the states that paid the bills for the seniors. This is no different. Part D was taken from states who tried it out and it worked, just like insurance for all was taken from Massachusetts and they had many problems and they did not have to have their programs changed several times to interact with different states and all of their insurance companies. 
3
Ally6770Ally6770909 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,643
6. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 2:40 PM
Me1004:  I am so happy to hear from someone who is still ready and willing to learn how to do  their taxes themselves.    There are times when our taxes can be so complicated we must call on professional or software help but for most people, I can never understand why they would pay someone or even pay for software to do stuff they can teach themselves.
One thing I must agree wholeheartedly with FAR, we do NOT need the government to provide free software.  They can't provide a website causing a fortune to sell their insurance so I sure don't want them picking out software for MY taxes!  :)  That would be a time I would prefer to pay for Turbo or one of the other software packages for myself! 
3
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
7. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 3:17 PM
I can do it myself that is how I caught the CPA's mistakes. But working 2 jobs and caring for a husband on disability I did not have the time to do it during those 2-3 years. I went to the programs. Actually the program has not made a mistake for me you just have to know what to fill it or have the program ask you the questions so it is filled in for you or call or email the program people, CPA, or tax lawyers with questions.

Took me a little over an hour this year and my federal return was 46 pages and my state was 26 pages. Just  paying for the postage to mail these and the  12 mile trip to the post office to send it registered or certified  would have taken too much time and money.  Not worth it to me to find, print and fill in all the forms. $20 is cheap. If I had 3-4 pages for each the federal and state then I would rethink it. 
5
Ally6770Ally6770909 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,643
8. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 4:34 PM
I filed for free online this year with FileYourTaxes.com
It was accurate and my refund was credited to my checking account in minimum time. I have been utilizing the free services directing filers to go to on the IRS web site for the past couple of years with no problems. Of course my returns are relatively simple. If I had a complicated tax situation I would secure the services of a CPA.

FileYourTaxes.com: OnLine Tax Filing, Fast, Easy Secure
4
ShorebreakShorebreak2,604 posts since
Apr 6, 2010
Rep Points: 14,109
9. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 4:45 PM
Thanks. These use the same income limits as the federal or state sites. With Roth conversions I would not be able to use the free sites. The tax agents that do taxes for free at senior agencies and libraries use the same limits. 
3
Ally6770Ally6770909 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,643
10. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 4:47 PM
SB:  Who really gets to read your personal tax info when you file with this File Your Taxes.com?  It just concerns me that I would not really know who was actually getting to see my personal tax info no matter how they state it is "secure". 
2
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
11. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 4:59 PM
This is from their site.

All taxpayers must be referred to us from the Free File page of the www.IRS.gov website and begin their return from the links on the resulting FileYourTaxes.com Free File landing page to qualify. For additional information Click Here.

It is just one program recommended by the IRS site to use.
http://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp?ck 
2
Ally6770Ally6770909 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,643
12. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 5:25 PM
Re: Paoli2 @ 10. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 4:47 PM

Whether one uses a CPA or a commercial tax preparation service someone else will see your tax return. Heck, do you really trust the employees that much at the IRS who see your return?
3
ShorebreakShorebreak2,604 posts since
Apr 6, 2010
Rep Points: 14,109
13. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 5:50 PM
When you e-file your return it is checked by computers and compared to information on their computers. No person sees that information unless they physically can get passwords and look up information on the computers. Several contracted employees have been fired in the past for looking  at returns of friends, relatives or movie stars. When you mail in your return the information is physically entered  into computers.  Only the person who prepares your return,  or if you mail your return in does someone see your information when they input the information in the computers. No one looks at your return to check your information. If it is incorrect the computer will reject it. 
4
Ally6770Ally6770909 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,643
14. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 7:46 PM
Well #12 it looks like I have no choice but to trust them because I will not be e-filing anything unless I make a great change in the years to come.
4
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
15. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 8:23 PM
"Well",  Number Fourteen:
Did you read the post @ 13. Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 5:50 PM by Ally?

"When you e-file your return it is checked by computers and compared to information on their computers. No person sees that information unless they physically can get passwords and look up information on the computers."
3
ShorebreakShorebreak2,604 posts since
Apr 6, 2010
Rep Points: 14,109
16. Friday, March 7, 2014 - 7:31 AM
#15    No offense to #14 but she seems to have more faith in what is going on in her government than I do so I can't take her post as complete truth.  If our government wants to look at my tax report, it can and will.  Maybe she is posting from a before "Obama" term but now anything is possible within our IRS agencies or does she not watch the news about the farce trial of the IRS.  "No Speakie, No Seeie,  No Tellie".  They do what they want to who they want.  Just my personal opinion without prejudice.    Besides I have a "thing" about e-filing or anything that doesn't have to do with paper.
4
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
17. Friday, March 7, 2014 - 8:29 AM
  #13 "When mailing a return only person that sees your return is the person entering the information." Then what happens to the hard copy mailed in? Do they ball it up and shoot baskets into the waste? Is it shredded or do they put it at the bottom of a bird cage?
"If taxes are e-filed no person sees information unless they get passwords.... Several employees have been fired for looking at returns." Maybe these several employees fired were the only ones that got caught and more people had access than known.
Maybe we would feel safer if the President addressed the nation that he guarantees all our information is completely confidential with the IRS. If there was a massive data breach within the government you think they would tell us? We are all on a need to know basis with them.
I am being a little silly with my examples but bottom line is nobody really knows or can say they are 100% certain of anything that is not within their control. The best thing we can do is to do what you are comfortable with and be diligent on checking your personal information for any inaccuracies.
3
FARFAR106 posts since
Feb 26, 2013
Rep Points: 381
18. Friday, March 7, 2014 - 10:57 AM
Thank you FAR for allowing me to do what "I" am comfortable with.  Maybe one day I, too, will be comfortable with e-filing but just not yet.
3
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
19. Friday, March 7, 2014 - 1:36 PM
Well, then don't ever try to take out a home mortgage...

Why Mortgage Lenders Want Tax Returns

"Shopping for a home mortgage loan? Prepare to hand over real proof of your taxable income.During the housing boom, lenders rarely required borrowers to provide copies of federal tax returns.But today, lenders often ask borrowers to turn over entire tax returns, according to Brad Blackwell, national sales manager for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage."

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/m...urns-1.asp

3
ShorebreakShorebreak2,604 posts since
Apr 6, 2010
Rep Points: 14,109
20. Friday, March 7, 2014 - 5:18 PM
#19  It's not just for home mortgages one has to show their personal finances.  I was shocked to find out that the apartment we are living in refused to rent to us unless I sent them copies of our finances and where our income was coming from.  To make it worse, before they would allow us to sign, they asked for more!  So I sent them some eye-popping pages of other income which I would have prefered not to share and they agreed we fit their criteria and let us sign for an apartment.  I had no idea you had to turn over such personal financial info just in order to get an apartment but this place is very particular as to who it will rent to.  (And they ended up getting "Paoli!  :)  Good thing I left my accordian in the attic in our former home or we probably would not still be here.  They have all sorts of "no noise" rules and nothing was noisier than Paoli "trying" to play "Lady of Spain" :)
2
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
21. Friday, March 7, 2014 - 7:06 PM
Print your tax return. Or you can save it on your computer or disk if you use a disk or download it to a USB thumb, or if you have divided your hard drive to different sections for security download it to one section, or  you can even save it to your desk top. I print mine. That is how I knew it was 46 pages long for federal and 23 for the state. Actually I print 2 copies. One for the fireproof file in the basement and I keep a copy in my files upstairs for easy access. I keep 2 running years copies upstairs and destroy the third year back every year.  In fact I have 40 years of our tax returns in the fireproof file. Some were accidentally burned when we moved 40 years ago. Even if you don't print your return you can get it later with your username, password etc.either from IRS or for free from the program that you used.  Many banks, mutual fund companies etc are signed up with the tax programs and you can download all the information for your tax return very fast. I would rather type it in but it is not necessary. 
2
Ally6770Ally6770909 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,643
22. Friday, March 7, 2014 - 7:47 PM
#21  Are you directing your info to me or to everyone on DA?  If me, I certainly don't have to be told to "print my tax returns".  I think I still have my returns from many years ago even tho we are told we only have to keep them a certain number of years.  I can't imagine anyone doing their own taxes "not" making a copy for themselves whether they print it from the computer or do it by hand.  Who doesn't keep copies of their tax returns?  What are we supposed to do if we are audited?  It is our responsibility to keep a copy for ourselves.  Actually advising me or anyone to "print" or make a copy of their own return for themselves is either funny or insulting.  I prefer to hope you were joking.
2
paoli2paoli21,367 posts since
Aug 10, 2011
Rep Points: 5,993
23. Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 12:14 AM
DRAMA !
6
RicochetRicochet132 posts since
Jan 19, 2010
Rep Points: 362
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