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How turbo tax works

how turbo tax works

News. Analysis. Advocacy Journalism.

April 14, 2009

Turbo Tax works sort of, but.

PEORIA -- How odd that the most helpful reviews I could find on the Turbo Tax software for 2008 were not in the newspapers* but on, where people complained loudly about how this year it costs more for less.

The initial Turbo Tax also allowed only one bite at the apple – no more doing the taxes for your teenagers or grandparents without buying other expensive disks.

That hurt, so TT backed down on that issue, but other issues remain, especially the price increases.

Thanks to those reviews I learned that TT Deluxe would do everything I needed, even though TT claimed it wouldn’t. So I bought it, even though I have always used Basic.

A bonus: the state tax form is included along with free e-filing this year. But…

My husband and I began doing our own taxes after we got audited years ago, and found that our paid tax preparer had left town! So my husband learned the IRS rules to confront the audit (we didn’t have to pay!), then we began doing our taxes as if we would be audited.

In fact we were audited so often we expected it. (We never had to pay!)

Then the audits stopped, and we discovered Turbo Tax.

TT is easier then a spreadsheet, calculator and pencil, because it does the math, but there’s always a glitch.

Something doesn’t work quite right.

This year we were looking forward to e-filing for the first time. No such luck.

Our return had errors, TT told us, so could not be e-filed. What errors? We took the standard deduction!

No matter. There were blanks in worksheets downloaded from a broker. Worksheets? These are not even turned into the IRS as part of the return. The blanks involved some dates which are irrelevant.

There were other errors, from worksheets not even used in this year’s return. They were used last year. TT takes last year’s data and incorporates it into this year’s tax return, which is a big time saver. But apparently some software glitch allowed last year’s worksheets to stop this year’s e-filing.

I gave up. Who wants to spend half a day trying to figure out how to fix this stuff!

We printed it and mailed it.

And the state return? Yes, it was included, but no, the state e-filing isn’t free. It’s $20.00.

$20.00? You gotta be kidding! We mailed it for a 57 cent stamp.

With a day to spare.

-- Elaine Hopkins

* Is this the type of omission that leads readers to drop their subscriptions to print newspapers? The business sections are full of irrelevant, self-serving articles repeating what everyone has heard for years about saving money, consulting brokers, etc. But no real information people need, such as how well Turbo Tax works this year!

Category: Taxes

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