Author Topic: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?  (Read 8368 times)

galliver

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Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« on: January 21, 2015, 06:37:26 PM »
I was surprised when a search didn't turn up a lengthy thread or ten. How do Mustachians do their personal taxes? Paid online packages? Free online tools? Paper? Anything that was particularly good for dealing with a specific situation?

I've typically used free online tools, but I moved states this year and I know free tools don't tend to cover that situation. A few years ago I worked a summer job out-of-state and had to pay taxes in both states, so being cheap I tried to do paper returns, but got an angry letter from State of Residence a few months later demanding $10. I was busy so I just paid them off. Since I'm dealing with more significant earnings over more of the year this time, don't want to mess with that again and was looking for suggestions of what's the best/cheapest in terms of the paid programs.

dunhamjr

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2015, 06:40:52 PM »
I have been using hr block windows app for a number of years. Was going to look around this year to see if there was a cheaper or free option that would work as well.

Doing my fairly complex taxes, plus my mom's simple taxes. Also need to be able to what if for next year.

SailAway

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2015, 07:01:13 PM »
I was looking into this, too. We have to file 1040 because of the HSAs and make too much to qualify for all of the income-based free files. State always seems to be the glitch. May do pen and paper this year - the cost of two stamps.

galliver

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2015, 07:20:18 PM »
Actually...looks like TurboTax free edition added state taxes, too! I just wonder if that just goes for one state or all of them... but I thought I'd let all you good people know :)

johnny847

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2015, 07:26:51 PM »
Pencil and paper. Well not literally pencil and paper for federal - I do the free e-File for that.

But my state has no free e-filing options if you have already submitted your federal returns through IRS eFile. So pencil and paper it is.

davef

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2015, 12:35:23 PM »
I use Freetaxusa.com, I Have for 3 years and I love it. Federal is Free and state is $10.
It works for even complicated situations, like mine. Rental properties, lots of investments, 4 W-2s (between the wife and I) and my own business on a schedule C.

Shade00

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2015, 12:42:43 PM »
I lock in TaxAct early every year... the past two or three years I've paid them either $9.99 or $11.99 for federal and state e-filing. TurboTax wanted to charge me $50-60 for fed and state e-filing because I can't a 1040EZ. Absurd. Been very happy with TaxAct.

Bob W

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2015, 01:03:17 PM »
You can do H and R Block on line.   Depending on you income it could be free or very cheap.  (no software needed and they keep your info from year to year.  Simplest stuff ever.   I think they will do the state to state stuff as well)

galliver

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2015, 01:06:59 PM »
I use Freetaxusa.com, I Have for 3 years and I love it. Federal is Free and state is $10.
It works for even complicated situations, like mine. Rental properties, lots of investments, 4 W-2s (between the wife and I) and my own business on a schedule C.

I don't think I've ever heard of that one! Makes me glad I started this.

You can do H and R Block on line.   Depending on you income it could be free or very cheap.  (no software needed and they keep your info from year to year.  Simplest stuff ever.   I think they will do the state to state stuff as well)

I've actually been using H&R block for...wow 7 years already? I do like it, it's very straightforward and easy to use. Haven't had problems. Unfortunately they charge like $30 for state, and their paid packages (for those who have more complicated returns/higher income than mine) are *not* that cheap... I've been doing state on my state's website, previously, for free. Just not an option this year.

Jack

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2015, 02:47:50 PM »
My favorite tax software is LibreOffice Calc and Firefox.

galliver

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2015, 05:15:32 PM »
My favorite tax software is LibreOffice Calc and Firefox.

As far as I know neither of those actually fills out/files a return...

johnny847

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2015, 05:33:02 PM »
My favorite tax software is LibreOffice Calc and Firefox.

As far as I know neither of those actually fills out/files a return...
I'm assuming Jack does his returns by hand. This is the method that I recommend, because if you rely just on software, you don't learn anything, and can't plan for future taxes.

MDM

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 06:54:07 PM »
I was surprised when a search didn't turn up a lengthy thread or ten. How do Mustachians do their personal taxes? Paid online packages? Free online tools? Paper? Anything that was particularly good for dealing with a specific situation?
Started w/ pencil & paper.

Then a roll-our-own spreadsheet for many years.  Kept adding columns for new years and rows (e.g., different banks, charitable deductions, etc.) as needed.

Went to TurboTax a few years back as a less expensive way (vs. the $350 CPA) to do my mom's simple-enough-but-different-state-and-I-wasn't-familiar-with-pension-rules return.  Used it for our own as long as we had it anyway. 

Probably paid for itself on our return by noting that we didn't have to include the ~$200 state tax refund, because in the previous year the AMT snagged us so we didn't get to deduct state taxes - don't know if we would have noticed that.

Even with TT, we have maintained the spreadsheet  for two reasons:
1. Double check on fat-fingering entries in TT
2. Handy for planning next year's taxes and withholding (as others have already mentioned).

DD has Amazon Prime so we were able to get TT Premier this year for $55.  That was low enough to keep me, although TaxAct's price is tempting....

gimp

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2015, 07:03:22 PM »
This one, gonna have to pay - 3 states, a move and a bunch of move-related expenses, and itemized deductions makes it hairy. Probably turbo tax.

Next year, back to not paying for it, it will be much easier.

choppingwood

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2015, 08:45:31 PM »
In Canada, I use something free called Simple Tax. Which is what it says it is.

It is on the Canada Revenue Agency (Canada's IRS) website, as an approved software. I've recommended it to others, who've also found it simple.

You can pay the developers if you want to, and it is easy enough that the people I know want to.

El Marinero

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2015, 09:00:38 PM »
I've used Turbotax for at least 20 years.  I find it pretty easy to use. I like the desktop version - I don't see a need to load my financial info  onto Intuit's servers.  I also don't pay full price.

If you are Vanguard customer, you are probably eligible for a discount.
 https://personal.vanguard.com/us/insights/taxcenter/qdi/turbotax

My credit union also has a discount on Turbotax, so you may want to check your financial instituition.

Be aware that Intuit seriously dumbed down the 'Deluxe' desktop product this year, quietly removing schedules C,D & E, in a sneaky ploy to get more bucks out of their customers. I may try TaxAct next year as it gets good reviews and is much cheaper.

Spork

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2015, 09:28:38 PM »
It's been mentioned in a couple of other threads, but I will mention it here again just to be complete.

If you've used Turbotax before, don't assume you need the same product this year as previous years.  They've reorganized the product such that many people will need "the next level up" from what they have used before.   If you need schedule C, D or E -- check to make sure which product you need.  Reviews on Amazon this year are down to a little more than 1 star.

mlipps

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2015, 09:53:14 PM »
This one, gonna have to pay - 3 states, a move and a bunch of move-related expenses, and itemized deductions makes it hairy. Probably turbo tax.

Next year, back to not paying for it, it will be much easier.

I did a three state return two years ago with turbo tax. It really wasn't very helpful, I still had to read each state's rules and correctly apportion everything. It might not be worth the money. If you need any advice on being a partial year resident of Maryland or Ohio pm me! That was the worst tax season ever for me!!

downtownshuter

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2015, 10:03:46 PM »
I've done my own, pen and paper (spreadsheet and printer really) the past two years. I really like it, and I understand some nuances of our tax system better which has given me some ideas for improvement.

KMMK

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2015, 06:16:07 AM »
I do mine first on a spreadsheet that is created from the usual tax forms. Then I use Studio Tax (Canada) and make sure their numbers match mine.

Duchess of Stratosphear

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2015, 07:37:33 AM »
I use freetaxusa and would recommend it. Sometimes I'll punch the numbers into TurboTax and see if they agree (they pretty much do). TurboTax is a bit more intuitive and clear, I think, but it would cost me $60 or so to file federal and state returns (I itemize so I don't think I can do the free TurboTax) and freetaxusa only charges about $15 to file state--federal is free.

choppingwood

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2015, 08:10:18 AM »
It is on the Canada Revenue Agency (Canada's IRS) website, as an approved software. I've recommended it to others, who've also found it simple.

CRA certification merely means that if the program shows you $x on Line Y, then it sends $x to the CRA as the value of Line Y. i.e. it's merely a certification as to the fidelity of the transmission protocol.

CRA certification says nothing about the substantive accuracy of the tax software.

I can tell you from experience that all popular Canadian tax products are wildly inaccurate and probably should not be used unless you have a simple tax situation.

I do all my tax returns on paper using the official forms, plus any footnotes I have to attach for clarifications.

For many years I've done a rough copy on the paper forms, for my own tax situation, which has a varying levels of complexity. Then I filed on Telefile (phoned-in info), when I was able, and a paper return when my situation didn't allow that.

I did a rough copy the first time I used Simple File and then used the software. It did my taxes perfectly, with fewer steps than I had to take on paper. It also takes the information in a more logical order than the paper forms. The next year my sister used it for a somewhat more complicated tax filing. She isn't very comfortable with doing things like this (sometimes gets bogged down in individual questions), but found it easy to use.

As I remember, it was clear that it was for straightforward situations. It filed easily and I got my refund in eight days, which is the same as when I used Telefile, and several weeks before I've ever got a refund from a paper filing. My sister got hers in five days!!

schimt

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2015, 07:57:18 AM »
saw this comparison of the 3 main options, with a comparison of features and total cost including 1 state file.

http://www.doughroller.net/taxes/cheapest-tax-software/?utm_source=getresponse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=doughrollernewsletter&utm_content=Dough+Roller+Money+Tips

merula

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2015, 08:11:44 AM »
Prior to this year, I had used TurboTax every year since I started filing. This year I heard about the Free Fillable Forms option and tried that. I was a little nervous that I was missing something, so I did the online TurboTax "See what your refund will be before buying!" thing. Their number and my number matched perfectly.

My state doesn't have a free e-file option, but in years past I had opted to mail in the forms printed from TurboTax rather than pay $20 for e-file. So I knew more or less what I needed to file since my basic tax situation hasn't changed from last year, and just downloaded the fillable PDFs from the state website and went through the instructions.

I found it very helpful to print out the form itself and fill it out in pencil to start with, and then transfer those numbers to the Free Fillable Forms system. That way I knew it wasn't an issue with fat fingers or something.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 12:56:48 PM by merula »

JLee

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2015, 08:33:02 AM »
I use Freetaxusa.com, I Have for 3 years and I love it. Federal is Free and state is $10.
It works for even complicated situations, like mine. Rental properties, lots of investments, 4 W-2s (between the wife and I) and my own business on a schedule C.
I used FreetaxUSA after reading about it here on the forum. My state return was $12.95 and Federal was free. Compare this to the ~$96 I paid TurboTax last year...I am happy.

Hvillian

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2015, 09:44:41 AM »
I lock in TaxAct early every year... the past two or three years I've paid them either $9.99 or $11.99 for federal and state e-filing. TurboTax wanted to charge me $50-60 for fed and state e-filing because I can't a 1040EZ. Absurd. Been very happy with TaxAct.
Same here - I have locked in the early TaxAct rate for many years.  I like the software and have had no problems.

I also like the excel 1040 that is updated every year.  It is fun to play with and check the calculations. https://sites.google.com/site/excel1040/

MDM

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2015, 11:40:08 AM »
saw this comparison of the 3 main options, with a comparison of features and total cost including 1 state file.

http://www.doughroller.net/taxes/cheapest-tax-software/?utm_source=getresponse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=doughrollernewsletter&utm_content=Dough+Roller+Money+Tips

Good article, thanks for posting.  Already bought TT again this year, but maybe it's worth the $20 to buy and compare TaxAct - in order to plan for next year....

AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2015, 11:48:45 AM »
I use H&R Block desktop version, deluxe plus state. I pay around $20-25 for it by waiting for the price drop on Amazon, which usually occurs sometime between Thanksgiving and New Years, and stays low for a few days then goes back up to mid-30's. Federal e-filing is free, and I file state by paper rather than paying extra for the e-filing.

marblejane

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Re: Favorite Tax Software (or other methods)?
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2015, 11:59:40 AM »
Free Fillable Forms (with e-File!), from the IRS: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free

Then state taxes from that, usually by hand.