Turbo Tax

User Forum Topic
Submitted by rent4now on February 18, 2013 - 9:28am

What do you guys think about turbo tax?

The past 8 years I have used a "family friend" CPA who has done a great job doing our taxes. After seeing what he charged this past year im definitely going turbo tax next year. His rates started off reasonable but has almost doubled in the last 8 years.
I have never used turbo tax but have friends who tell me how easy it is to use. For those that use it, do you feel you are able to get all the deductions that a tax pro can find? Im a little nervous that ill leave something out or do my taxes wrong.

Submitted by earlyretirement on February 18, 2013 - 9:36am.

It's GREAT. Typically very powerful. Obviously if you enter in garbage you will get garbage out. Unless your taxes are extremely complicated (and even then) you can typically get it all entered and it will get all the deductions.

Try it out free! http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxe...

Just click on whatever one you want and plug in your numbers. Just plug in this year's numbers (or even try last years) and see how close it comes. A tip I always recommend is to get ALL your forms from your accountant last year and make sure that you look at all of them and compare them to the TurboTax to see how close it comes.

But it's really a powerful program and probably will save you a ton of money vs. accountant.

Submitted by UCGal on February 18, 2013 - 9:46am.

I've used turbo tax for more than a decade.

You have multiple modes you can enter the information.

There's the interview mode - that one takes you through every possible scenario - asking you if it applies to you, then drilling down to get more information if it does.

Or the form mode. You can enter the data directly on the worksheets or forms. This is useful if your taxes don't change much from year to year - and it's just a matter of adjusting the numbers for the current year.

(This goes with what ER suggested about comparing the output of Turbo Tax to the previous years forms.)

The Employee Stock Purchase Plan section is useful if your employer has ESPP. As is the section on RSUs, Options, etc... That's the trickiest part of my taxes - and turbo tax makes it tolerable.

(I think you need the Premiere version to the RSU/ESPP features.)

I spent a few hours this weekend doing taxes. It was relatively pain free - except that I owe. Doh!!!!

Submitted by Coronita on February 18, 2013 - 10:49am.

Love it... But I'm biased. Because I use to work at Intuit. And it was free for me to use... Now I just get friends who work there to buy me intuit products at 2/3% off retail. Including quickbooks.

I think CPA's/accountants might help you brainstorm and plan.. That's what I do when I talk to them. T

Submitted by rent4now on February 18, 2013 - 10:51am.

I didn't realize you could try it out for free. Thats a great idea.
If I get back more from turbo vs our cpa im gonna demand a refund! :)

Submitted by cvmom on February 18, 2013 - 11:31am.

Also love Turbotax and have used for 10+ years. Vanguard will give it to you free/reduced rate depending on how much you have invested with them. Our taxes are quite complex but the program has had no issues with them.

It seems to me that the hardest part of doing your taxes is gathering together all of the paperwork, receipts, etc. And you have to do that whether you use a CPA or do it yourself. So why not just do it yourself.

If any issues come up, there is a huge user community to provide answers to your questions.

Submitted by SD Transplant on February 18, 2013 - 12:49pm.

TurboTax all the way (I'm bias just like Flu :).

Submitted by earlyretirement on February 18, 2013 - 2:18pm.

rent4now wrote:
I didn't realize you could try it out for free. Thats a great idea.
If I get back more from turbo vs our cpa im gonna demand a refund! :)

Yep. They make it SUPER easy now where you don't even need to download any software. Best of all, you can just use a gmail account to figure out your taxes and don't have to pay anything until you file. You can use a few different email addresses if you want to make some different scenarios and you don't even need to buy the program if you don't want.

I've been using Intuit products for years and they are great! I don't think it gets much better than Turbo Tax. Great program.

As others mentioned, the toughest part of taxes I think is getting together all your stuff. But even that is not too difficult if you just start doing it yourself. What I've found helpful is making a spreadsheet with everything you would need. The various bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. Just entering the data from the 1099's, etc.

Then once you do it one year, you will have all the data entry points you will need for the following year. Sure, things might change with the law but as UCGal mentioned, Turbo Tax's interview process will typically alert you to any changes.

Also, I really believe that doing your own taxes helps empower you to understand your tax situation more. Once you take a good look how everything ties together I just believe it makes you more aware about your finances.

And these days it's easier than ever because before you had to wait until all your banks, investment companies mailed you out the forms. But now it's all online and Turbo Tax will automatically pull the data from almost all banks and investment firms. Couldn't be easier and not much to enter at all compared to many years ago.

Submitted by sym on February 18, 2013 - 2:28pm.

+1 for TurboTax. Have used their software for over a decade, and the most time consuming task is pulling together the various paperwork for the year.

The one thing I did miss in the 2011 tax year software was the ability to submit the application for review with a tax professional. Prior to 2011 I received great feedback on specific questions during the review process. Hopefully tax year 2012 has this feature (for a fee) back on.

Over the year's my tax situation had gotten complicated and found Turbo Tax Premier edition to handle them well.

Speaking about taxes can anyone suggest sites to follow tax conversations, and policies?

On my to do list is to also find a good CPA who has experience with C-corp. Anyone willing to share their favorite? Thanks a bunch. (Sorry about the slight thread jack)

Submitted by UCGal on February 18, 2013 - 3:13pm.

pulling together your tax documents isn't hard.

On Jan 1st of each year start a folder labeled taxes (with the year.)

Everything that might be needed for taxes gets tossed in there. Receipts for charitable donations, stock transaction statements (especially if they're RSUs and the reporting at the end of the year sucks - like my employers case.) etc.

In our case we have continuing education and licensing fees for my husband - toss the receipts for those in there. If there is charitable mileage - we toss records of that in the folder as they accrue.

When you pay your car registration - make note of the deductable amount (it's not the full amount)... toss that in the folder.

Then, later, as the year wraps up - toss the transaction summer/year end reports from your brokerage accounts. As the 1099's and W2s come in - toss those in as well.

It seems obvious - but I didn't start doing this till about 10 years ago. Now I don't have any issue with gathering the info. I just grab that folder.

Submitted by moneymaker on February 18, 2013 - 9:32pm.

I've been using it for a couple of years and this is the first year I've had to do an amended return. For amendments it's not as straight forward as one would think it should be. I forgot about all the money I made in stocks last year, bummer! Now I'm not sure if the amended amount will be paid automatically the way I originally set it up. Guess I'll find out April 15th. P.S.- it took the Feds like 15 days to accept my return, could not do an amended return with Turbo tax until the original return was accepted by the Feds, which means I'll probably get audited again for like the 10th time in a row, usually it's the state that I have problems with. They never get the same numbers I get.

Submitted by spdrun on February 18, 2013 - 9:43pm.

I'd rather have the software that runs on MY computer -- I'm not f--king exposing personal financial data to the "cloud" more than I have to. Personal data online = privacy-rape. Yeah, yeah, bank accounts are already accessible online; but they're not all in one place with the same login/password combo.

This being said, I use Excel and the fill-in PDF tax forms, then send them via snail-mail. If it costs the gov't more to process them, good. Maybe there will be a few less bucks in the pockets of the bloated defense and over-militarized law enforcement industries.

Submitted by spdrun on February 18, 2013 - 9:45pm.

I'd rather have the software that runs on MY computer -- I'm not f--king exposing personal financial data to the "cloud" more than I have to. The more personal data online, the more opportunities for privacy-rape. Yeah, yeah, bank accounts are already accessible online; but they're not all in one place with the same login/password combo.

This being said, I use Excel and the fill-in PDF tax forms, then send them via snail-mail. If it costs the gov't more to process them, good. Maybe there will be a few less bucks in the pockets of the bloated defense and over-militarized law enforcement industries.

Submitted by earlyretirement on February 18, 2013 - 10:30pm.

spdrun wrote:
I'd rather have the software that runs on MY computer -- I'm not f--king exposing personal financial data to the "cloud" more than I have to. The more personal data online, the more opportunities for privacy-rape. Yeah, yeah, bank accounts are already accessible online; but they're not all in one place with the same login/password combo.

This being said, I use Excel and the fill-in PDF tax forms, then send them via snail-mail. If it costs the gov't more to process them, good. Maybe there will be a few less bucks in the pockets of the bloated defense and over-militarized law enforcement industries.

I will never send in paper snail mail tax forms again. True story. Back about 6 years ago I sent in a paper snail mail tax return. You can imagine my surprise when I got a letter from the IRS that said I had $700,000 due. I got audited due to this. I knew it had to be wrong as I didn't even make nearly that amount for that tax year!!!

It turns out that the IRS lost several pages of my Schedule D -1 forms. That year I did monster trading and I had a few dozen pages of D1 forms. I don't know how they lost them but they just calculated my cost basis on my trades as $0. It was a nightmare.

After that I just have filed electronically. I will never send in paper forms again after that. Yes the IRS makes mistakes and loses paperwork.

I can't tell you how much time and aggravation I spent on that one. In the end I had to pay about $3,700 more which was no big deal. But once you get audited, you can get audited again in the future. After that I got audited 2 more times. But didn't have to pay more and in one of the times I get $9 back.

Submitted by spdrun on February 18, 2013 - 10:31pm.

.

Submitted by joec on February 18, 2013 - 11:02pm.

I've used Turbo tax for as long as I can remember. We're self employed and probably have a pretty complicated tax return I think. Most people would think I'm foolish for doing it on my own, but having worked in finance before and having seen wrong and bad advice given by CPAs when meeting with clients, I suppose I'm a bit skeptical that "any" CPA or EA will do a good job. Any "great or top" CPA/EA will have too many clients if they are good and not enough time to focus on doing a good job on just your return or your business/tax situation I feel.

The main benefit I see with using Turbotax is it just works and you can open any form if you need to. I've had to do that on a few occasions mostly for Schedule C stuff, but if you know the tax law a bit, you would know where to look and since it transfers stuff over from one year to the next, you can look at your last years return and make sure you get the same deduction if the program forgot it which it did last year on a few things.

Another thing to consider is you, as a tax payer simply care more about your return than anyone else. The CPA can do your return and has all the knowledge, but even then, I don't think all CPAs care/love tax so this varies and their goal is just to "mostly" bill and move on to the next guy.

I love learning about and doing my taxes and find it's fun to save as much as I can so I enjoy doing it myself. It's nice to see the Turbotax calculator drop what you owe as you enter the numbers. I also spend a ton of time keeping up and reading various tax boards and any relevant tax news so it is a large time commitment to see what has changed from year to year. Turbotax does a decent job of keeping you informed in general.

As others have mentioned, keeping up with your own data that you'd need to give to the CPA is the big pain point and the CPA isn't going to be helping me entering all the business data so hiring one wouldn't help me much.

If your return is relatively simple, I don't see why anyone would need to hire a CPA honestly as most major tax deduction legislation would be hard to miss by Turbotax.

Submitted by SK in CV on February 19, 2013 - 8:36am.

Great comment joe. I could quibble with some minor details but overall it's pretty accurate. People who aren't afraid of their taxes should at least try to do them themselves. It can be overwhelming for some, but it's certainly worth a try if the alternative is paying much more than a few hundred bucks to a professional preparer.

I do want to comment on this though:

joec wrote:

If your return is relatively simple, I don't see why anyone would need to hire a CPA honestly as most major tax deduction legislation would be hard to miss by Turbotax.

The likelihood of a tax professional understanding legislation better than the people at Turbotax is extraordinarily slim. They hire scores of CPA's to review legislation and make sure their software is consistent with the law. About 20 years ago I actually found a flaw in their software (one of the professional versions, they produce two professional tax software programs in addition to Turbotax) and they fixed it. (It's a slight exaggeration to say "I" found it. One of my tax managers found it. He went to work for them the next year. As far as I know, he's still there.) They have professionals working with incredibly narrow focus (like people dedicated to nothing but the home office deduction, or as my former employee was doing, just on ACE depreciation). They might miss something, but the chances are really slim that a professional tax preparer would catch something they don't.

Submitted by Coronita on February 19, 2013 - 8:53am.

yes folks, buy more intuit software. I still have equity from there and it would be nice if it can double again....:)

If you haven't tried it already quickbooks and go payment... Just saying....

Submitted by SK in CV on February 19, 2013 - 9:11am.

flu wrote:
yes folks, buy more intuit software. I still have equity from there and it would be nice if it can double again....:)

If you haven't tried it already quickbooks and go payment... Just saying....

Funny you should bring that up. My former employee left to work for Intuit in the fall of 1994 (I just looked it up.), and one of the things they gave him was a shitload of market value options. They wouldn't ordinarily vest for a couple years or more, but in Oct. 94 Microsoft tried to buy Intuit to get Quicken. Intuit stock shot up, and had the transaction closed, all his options would have vested. His take on the deal would have been well over $1M. Pretty good deal for a guy in his late 20's. But alas, the DOJ said no go, MSFT can't buy that winner. So his >$1M disappeared. At least for the moment. The stock is currently 20X higher than it was then, so I'm sure he's made that money and much more since then. But that instant millionaire status would have been pretty nice for him back then.

Sorry for the hijack.

Submitted by Coronita on February 19, 2013 - 10:27am.

SK in CV wrote:
flu wrote:
yes folks, buy more intuit software. I still have equity from there and it would be nice if it can double again....:)

If you haven't tried it already quickbooks and go payment... Just saying....

Funny you should bring that up. My former employee left to work for Intuit in the fall of 1994 (I just looked it up.), and one of the things they gave him was a shitload of market value options. They wouldn't ordinarily vest for a couple years or more, but in Oct. 94 Microsoft tried to buy Intuit to get Quicken. Intuit stock shot up, and had the transaction closed, all his options would have vested. His take on the deal would have been well over $1M. Pretty good deal for a guy in his late 20's. But alas, the DOJ said no go, MSFT can't buy that winner. So his >$1M disappeared. At least for the moment. The stock is currently 20X higher than it was then, so I'm sure he's made that money and much more since then. But that instant millionaire status would have been pretty nice for him back then.

Sorry for the hijack.

Judging for the comps I was seeing a few years ago, I'm sure he did alright...Maybe not early 1990's Qualcomm well, but still well.

Intuit is a pretty well run company. I really can't say too many bad things about the company (which is unusual for me, because I always have something critical to say about a firm, big or small...)

They've got the tax business pretty well dialed in. There was a bunch of jokers that use to say, just wait until (1) the another company comes into their tax prep space or (2) wait until the government simplifies taxes, then it's screwed... Ain't gonna happen. #2 is never gonna happen...(come on, our tax system is one of the most complicated ones around).. And #1 is really not going to happen, because the barrier to entry is so high to develop good prep-software...

There was at one point folks were concerned about Intuit's growth story. But they've been trying to get into the small biz market, which if they are successful, would be a good thing. Their acquisition of GoPayment was a good thing, since mobile payments will be huge.

Company stock,under Bennett, didn't really move during those few years. Not really his fault. He was actually a good leader imho...Under Brad Smith, the company has been trying to go after growth, and it seems to be working (somewhat)...The stock has been hitting all time highs recently, for whatever reasons.

I think my only gripe of the company was I wanted to work on something more geeking/nerdy/hardcore, and it probably wasn't the best fit for me. Kinda stupid on my part because factoring in the base pay + almost guaranteed bonus 20-25%+ (for decent good performers) stock options + RSU + generous vacation + decent health plans versus what I get now + hours to deal with overseas customers, development, etc, I took a pay cut for the privilege of working on "stuff that is cooler"....Hmmm......(dumb ass, lol...People said I was nuts for leaving...Then again, people said I was nuts for leaving QC too, and about a 4-5 other startups...)

Submitted by SK in CV on February 19, 2013 - 10:34am.

The secret to their success really shouldn't be a secret. They just make damn good products that are simple to use and sell them at a reasonable price. Quicken first and then QB have been revolutionary. And they never rested, continually trying to make their products better. They've failed a few times, and got ahead of themsevles, but they always seem to come back and fix what doesn't work. They kinda put me out of business.

Submitted by bzribee on February 20, 2013 - 12:42am.

Mark Kellner (Washington Times--should my link not work) just compared several computer programs (TurboTax, H&R Block, some others):

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012...

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