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Software Review of:
TurboTax for 2002


Picture of TurboTax Premier

Marion and Joe are enjoying their retirement years working with the Red Cross and spoiling their grand daughters. They have been instructors for SeniorComp and APCO and Joe just finished a three year term as the Treasurer.

From the March, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Ever wonder why the term “render” applies to the reduction of fat as in rendering a hog? Well, ‘tis time to render under Caesar that which is due him and I’ve chosen TurboTax to do so. 

There are several versions of TurboTax available so the first thing you must do is to determine which is correct for you. For example, the Basic version contains the program suitable for most Texans in that it has just the Federal forms plus a certificate for a rebate on the e-filing. 

The Deluxe offers all that the basic does plus it includes a free download of any one state tax plus a tax library and Money magazines “Income Tax Handbook”. 

The Deluxe Investors version offers all of the above plus enhanced procedures for handling stock, bond, and mutual fund sales plus advice to reduce taxes through various manipulations of your holdings. 

The Deluxe Retirement version is slanted to those with significant assets that are enjoying their retirement years and want to do some estate planning. 

Prices range widely depending upon where you buy the program and I’ve seen the Basic for as little as $9.95. You can pay retail at Turbotax.com with the Basic going for $29.95, the Deluxe for $39.95 and the Deluxe specialties for $49.95. 

You can also download the program from Turbotax and get moving right now or you can do the tax work on their site and pay when you either print the return or file it electronically. 

How well did it work?
Installation was no problem and it only took a couple of minutes to delete all the shortcuts that are installed for various other programs that I had no interest in. While I wish that TurboTax did not install them without my permission, that is another way for them to make some money. 

The introduction screen politely offers to help and the interview technique is very effective. 

I was also offered the opportunity to import tax data from several popular money management programs but, since I don’t use any of them, I do not know how effective and efficient that feature is. 

Well, last year I discovered that it did not particularly like DSL in that it refused to find an Internet connection and I had to load the updates manually. This year was no different but the updates were available and the Website gave directions to those that received the error message. 

The interview process was easy to use and imported last years personal data so repeating that information was not a problem. The program also looked for tax forms from interest, stock sales, etc. used in 2001 that were not used in 2002 and I had to delete the entries (one click) which was no big thing. The advantage is that it forces you to consider whether you have all your forms from various brokers, banks, insurance companies, etc. 

The running total of refund/tax due shows you how each entry impacts on the total taxes due which is also a clue towards next years financial planning. 

The review process spots mistakes and items that don’t seem reasonable and calls them to your attention. It also shows you how you stack up against the general populations tax returns which gives you an indication of audit possibilities. Some ideas are excellent and you need to think them through. 

My one gripe is that you have to be careful during the interview process as the program wants to entice you into downloading other programs (at a cost, of course) so beware before you click. 

When you’re ready to file you are offered the chance to print or file electronically and I printed the return first and then filed using e-file. I was offered the chance to charge the filing or to have it deducted from the refund which costs $10! plus the $14.95 filing fee. What a ripoff, IMHO. 

You can also get a loan to get your money faster but the annual interest rate is super high. While you get the money in two or three days after acceptance, I strongly urge that you wait the two or three weeks for normal direct deposit. 

Of course you can have the check mailed to you but that can take several weeks and if you are sophisticated enough to use e-file, go for the direct deposit method. 

The IRS Website offers to direct you to several sites where people that qualify can prepare their taxes and file using e-file for free. That is a goooood price and you might want to try them out. 

I chose to stick with TurboTax because I know it is efficient and the information is secure.

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