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Marion and Joe Barth are retired from the US Government and Joe retired from the Air Force. They travel a lot and spoil their grand girls.

From the March, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Intuit has produced many great software packages and we have used their TurboTax for the past several years. We’ve seen the product go from a program filled with video clips and lots of ads and programs that are installed on your computer to today’s version.

Today, the basic package comes with one free e-file rebate, the ability to do up to five tax returns, no video clips and programs that want to be installed on the computer such as AOL.

The big question on tax software is how well it prepares your taxes and, in spite of some glitches, it does it quite well.  You will require some patience if you have DSL since TurboTax does not work well with the high speed system.

Let’s take it from the top.  Marion and I went through our checkbook and identified deductions and then we assembled the various tax forms we have stockpiled since the first of January.
As TurboTax recommends, we made sure we had all the various income statements including the (sob) mutual fund losses.

We had used TurboTax last year and had uninstalled the program after we filed. The basic personal tax files remained on the hard drive so they were immediately imported into the new version for the 2001 tax season. We were offered the opportunity to import data from some of the other financial systems but we don’t use them so we declined.

We were asked to go online and download the latest changes to the forms but the system refused to recognize my DSL Internet connection. After calling the help line system and spending about 30 minutes on hold I was advised to delete several files.

After the system crashed a couple of times we uninstalled TurboTax and reinstalled it. We then called their PR department and asked about the DSL problem. I received a call and they told me that they were “aware of the problem” and that the “technicians were working on it”.

The work-around was to do a manual download of the update file and that worked nicely. I was told to select “ignore” from the options shown when the DSL connection couldn’t be found. We tried that and it worked. Part of the problem is that TurboTax is really designed to work with Microsoft Internet Explorer and we use Netscape.

Once the Internet problem was resolved we went into the interview process and the program took us step-by-step through the various tax forms. It carried a running total of the amount of refund/amount of underpayment as the figures were entered. After the figures were entered an error check found a couple of numbers wrong on the routing number of my bank (my error — not enough zeros typed into the nine digit number), showed us how our returned stacked up against others of a similar income level and asked how we wanted to file.

We had the option of printing and mailing in the forms or using e-file which was the option we chose.
Since last years information was still available, the program selected the adjusted gross income figure which, combined with the PIN”s we selected, made our return unique to us. The system then connected to the e-file system.

We were told that the return was capable of being processed and to check back in 24 to 48 hours. We did and found that the system produced the wonderful news that the government had accepted the tax returns and gave us the document control number from the IRS.

We were told that the return should be in the bank by Feb 14th (this is being written Feb 2nd) and that all was well. I placed the DCN on the rebate form and it will be mailed Monday and will take 6 - 8 weeks for it to be processed.  (Hmmm, wonder if they could hook into the e-file system and process the rebates faster).

TurboTax is available at various prices ranging from $19 to $40 depending upon your choice of venue. You can download it or you can file your taxes online by using TurboTax on their Web site. Other options include buying in as part of a bundle which would include Quicken, find a store and buy it at full retail or visit CompUSA, Costco or Sams and get it at a low price which changes as they compete. 

The more advanced programs include such benefits and tax programs for states that levy income taxes, some versions of Quicken and even some programs with many programs bundled together but for Texas residents the basic program will do nicely.

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