Best Tax Program
January 9, 2015 6:48 AM   Subscribe

I was hoping to get some feedback on what you guys think is the best program to do my own taxes in this year. I want to at least give it a shot.

I was hoping to get some suggestions on what you all out there think is the best program for me to try and do my own taxes this year. I know there are a lot out there and have heard a number of things, so I'm just wondering what make ones better than the other.

I work a normal job, have a wife and kids, so I need something that can handle that. I have the normal bills, credit card, house, car, cell, vacation company, etc. That come out of my finances, and as far as write offs go I don't think I have many, maybe some that are work related.

I just feel like the place I have been going to get them done for years has been asking for a lot of money and I don't know if it's worth it. So I'd like to give it a shot.

Let me know what you guys think.
posted by SCarey to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I've been using TurboTax for the last 15 years. I've used it when we've moved, sold houses, bought houses, changes jobs, rented a house out, had my own business, etc. It has been fine for all of those situations and it is reasonably clear to use.
posted by LittleMy at 6:53 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

I've used for the past 5 years or so and don't have any complaints. I also have relatively easy taxes.
posted by Jacob G at 6:54 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've used TuboTax every year for, 10 years? 20?

I can't think of any reason to recommend it, other than it seems to work.
posted by humboldt32 at 6:54 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I always head over to the IRS' Free File Page (looks like it's won't be up for another week) and see who'll file my federal taxes for free. I've gone with H&R Block for the last couple of years. As for State taxes, I take the 1040 from H&R and file on my state's webpage. It only take me an hour and costs me nothing. I'm single and that does make a difference. But it's still worth looking into.
posted by zinon at 6:59 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

This was just a big topic on a discussion board I'm part of and the consensus was that TurboTax is a really, really solid option. You can upgrade versions depending on the complexity of your tax situation and an accountant said that the platform is essentially the same that professional preparers use.
posted by goggie at 7:00 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've used Turbotax for the past several years, and I highly recommend it. It's come in very handy in a variety of situations - selling a house, getting married, selling off stocks. The software walks you through the entire process from start to finish (both federal and state) and even looks for deductions you might not be aware of. It also lets you stop if you need to and pick back up where you left off at a later time.
posted by Telpethoron at 7:01 AM on January 9, 2015

Seconding H&R Block (used to be called TaxCut), I switched after the great TurboTax debacle of 2003 and haven't looked back (also because the program lets you continue with last year's info which speeds things up). H&R also offers some kind of backup guarantee if you mess up and you need their auditors to help out.

Since you have a home you'll want the Deluxe version to assist in mortgage and property tax deductions. Skip the state version unless your state has a really complicated filing system (I'm in Illinois, and the form is pretty much the back of a kid's menu at Red Lobster).
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:02 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding H&R Block (used to be called TaxCut), I switched after the great TurboTax debacle of 2003 and haven't looked back (also because the program lets you continue with last year's info which speeds things up).

Ditto. I dumped TurboTax because of the 2003 DRM crap and have been happy with TaxCut since.

Here's some news about what TurboTax is up to now.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:08 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Taxact is fairy cheap ($17.99 fed +state) and has always worked for me. Also has free filing.
posted by H21 at 7:14 AM on January 9, 2015

I've used TurboTax online for a dozen years with no problems.
posted by mareli at 7:14 AM on January 9, 2015

TurboTax is fine, but if you don't meet their standards for "simple" (which constantly get stricter), it can get pretty expensive.
posted by smackfu at 7:18 AM on January 9, 2015

Also should mention that if you buy one of these programs, do it as a download-only from Amazon. They're constantly offering sales and one-day discounts. Browse a few of the programs while logged in and your inbox will be filled with offers up until April.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:24 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I switched from Turbotax to freetaxusa, not only beacuse it is insanely cheaper, but when I ran my taxes through both, there was a substantial difference in my return. I pay the extra $5.95 for audit assist just in case, but the total amount I pay is less than $25.00. Turbotax was triple is for quadruple that rate. I own a home, have 2 different businesses- an edutech consulting one and a exchange student host one, a job and I get alimony, so my taxes are complicated and I find that all of the options make doing your taxes on your own really easy.
posted by momochan at 7:28 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

We used to use TurboTax with no problem. Then, one year, TT's Mac system requirements leapfrogged my old machine, but TaxCut (HR Block) still worked fine for me, so we switched. As a bonus, TaxCut could import the previous year's TurboTax file. We've just stayed with HR Block ever since.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:35 AM on January 9, 2015

TaxAct will work really well for you.
posted by michaelh at 7:35 AM on January 9, 2015

TurboTax. I've used it for umpteen years and it's awesome.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:38 AM on January 9, 2015

TaxAct is good, reliable, and you can do the whole thing online. You don't have to pay until you actually file (and unless they've changed this year, the Fed filing is free, you just have to pay for the state).
posted by bedhead at 7:42 AM on January 9, 2015

The office of a recommended CPA in your state.

Seriously. I used TurboTax for a number of years and it always screwed up certain deductions on my state taxes. Then I'd have to file a correction form.

Example: I lived in New Hampshire (near the state border) in a rented apartment and worked in Massachusetts (also near the state border). Mass at the time had a rule that you could deduct the first $3,000 of apartment rent every year, if you ONLY lived in an apartment and had no other residences. TurboTax insisted that the address of the apartment had to be in MA. I called DOR since the tax forms mentioned nothing about this, and sure enough, even if you live in an apartment in another state you can take the deduction.

Example: Massachusetts used to allow you to deduct tolls paid on the Mass Pike via E-Z Pass from your state taxes, even if the toll was not incurred during your commute (again I verified this with DOR). TurboTax insisted these must be commuting miles.

I got fed up and switched to a CPA, and I have never been disappointed. Yes, it costs more, but I'd rather pay $300 and be sure my taxes are right than pay $30 and be visited by an auditor.
posted by tckma at 8:42 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing either TurboTax or TaxAct.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 8:42 AM on January 9, 2015

I used to use TurboTax online (10+ years), but when our household income got just high enough that it wasn't free to file with TurboTax but was still free to file with H&R Block, I switched to H&R Block online. Our taxes aren't complicated, so it works really well for us and I've never seen the shady crap from them that TurboTax has pulled in the past.

Also note that about half the states in the US sponsor free state filling, so if your state is one of them you can continue on to the state tax portion with your online tax preparer and have them carry over your W-2 info. I find that easier than filing federal and state separately since my state sponsors free state filing. Some states also offer free e-filing through their own local government websites as well, so that's an option if you don't qualify for free state filing at your federal return preparer.
posted by i feel possessed at 8:45 AM on January 9, 2015

Also recommend HR Block. Been using them for well over a decade. The import from last year feature is worth its weight in gold.
posted by General Malaise at 9:04 AM on January 9, 2015

Tax attorney here. The pro versions are different than the consumer versions, but I generally recommend that people check out TaxAct. It's the most cost-effective in my opinion. I use the pro version of TaxAct for preparing my clients' returns (I do about 10-15 returns per year on the side for friends/family).

Note to others: Turbotax Deluxe removed basic schedules from its software this year. Please check that the version you're purchasing has the schedules you need before buying!!!
posted by melissasaurus at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

Long-time happy TurboTax user here that defected for one year to H&R Block due to the DRM debacle, and will probably do that again this year due to Intuit's removal for Schedules C & D from Deluxe. There's quite a bit of vitriol about this in Deluxe's Amazon reviews. Bottom line is you need to know what schedules you'll need (check last year's return) and buy a product that will meet your needs. As for actually filing, I use the free Fed e-file then print off the one-page State return & mail it in.
posted by achrise at 9:23 AM on January 9, 2015

Maybe I'll rethink changing, now that I see I can buy a download of TurboTax Premier for $30 (Deluxe $20).
posted by achrise at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another tax attorney here, another vote for TaxAct. I've been using it for years, and my family members all use it as well (on my recommendation that they switch from TurboTax), with relative ease.
posted by loolie at 12:45 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Turbotax Deluxe removed basic schedules from its software this year.

Not exactly. All versions of TurboTax include all typical Schedules including A, B, C, D and E which can be filled out manually and included in your tax calculations. However, for step-by-step interview assistance you need to purchase the proper version for your needs as below:

Basic (free) handles 1040EZ and 1040A and Schedule B interest.
Deluxe adds Schedule A deductions.
Premier adds Schedule D capital gains.
Home and Business adds Schedule C self-employment and Schedule E rental income.
posted by JackFlash at 6:49 PM on January 9, 2015

One additional thing to consider is that, if you have Amazon Prime, you get a discount on TurboTax and an additional 10% back on your refund up to $50 if you use it to buy an Amazon gift card. (I think the 10% back offer is for any purchase of TurboTax on Amazon, not just for Prime members.)

That said, the removal of product features in TurboTax Deluxe might be enough to turn me off from it this year, even with the incentives.
posted by Aleyn at 9:42 PM on January 9, 2015

I've used Turbo Tax for over 10 years, but they're about to lose my business since they're insisting I use their $80 home and business version to enter any self-employment income at all.
posted by ktkt at 1:53 PM on January 10, 2015

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