Sunday, April 11, 2010

A review of "TurboTax"

by Intuit

I’ve always done my own taxes. But I have a lot of stuff to do this year, and I decided to shell out the money for TurboTax and give it a try.

I had already done about 95% of my federal returns, so it didn’t save much time there. However, I had neglected to take the Making Work Pay tax credit. I just didn't understand it, didn’t have time to think about it, and didn’t think it applied to me. So TurboTax saved me some money there, score one for TurboTax, which more or less forced me to do the right thing on that one.

I had really bought TurboTax for help with my state taxes, since I find Massachusetts taxes unreasonably complicated. However, I didn’t find it especially useful for the problems I encountered last year. For example, as they lead you along, you are asked questions like “Did you report capital gains or losses on your federal return that are not taxable in Massachusetts?”. Well, how the f* do I know? That’s what I bought TurboTax to tell me!

However, TurboTax did find me another deduction which I had failed to take last year: the rent deduction. I remember scratching my head over this last year but quickly deciding it couldn’t possibly apply to me – yet, apparently, it does! This is the weirdest deduction I’ve seen among all state taxes, and I’ve filled out tax forms in four different states to date. So that saved me about $150 in state taxes, score two for TurboTax. If there are any Massachusetts renters out there reading this, you should definitely look into it and see if it applies to you.

  1. When I tried to import my employer’s W-2 information, it failed. So that meant I had to type in all my W-2 information, which I normally do not have to do when filing. Hopefully there were no typos in that process.
  2. When I printed the forms, there was no option to just print even or odd sides. So I wound up printing one sheet at a time and flipping them over to save paper. Bummer.’
  3. Paying $90 to pay your taxes sucks.

So yes, it’s nice that TurboTax found me some extra deductions. However, it seems to me that I have no incentive to buy the product again. It confirmed for me that aside from a couple of neglected deductions, I’m doing my taxes correctly. It didn’t help me with some strange state tax questions. And I still needed to check it pretty carefully to be sure it was doing the right thing.

I think I would be inclined to buy TurboTax again if I move to another state, just to make sure I get the deductions right. Or possibly in years when I’m too busy with other things to give proper attention to tax filing. But I can’t see paying $90 every year for it. I don’t see the value in that.


Piaw Na said...

Don't forget, the $90 you paid for Turbo Tax is also deductible from next year's taxes!

md said...

Yes, that might help some people. I take the standard deduction.