As once said by Benjamin Franklin; nothing is certain – except death and taxes.
This saying may be now than any other time of year; tax season has arrived. This means either a complex nightmare to the average person, or a sizable paycheck to tax services.
One way or another, doing taxes will cost you time or money or both.
The times, they are changing, even if the taxes don’t. Available now is computer software that can help’s even the most extreme of tax- challenged individuals with simple instructions and user-friendly options. Two products in particular are known for being tax’s top dogs in software. The highly acclaimed Turbo Tax and Tax Cut backed by H&R Block.
Turbo tax was created by Chipsoft but was absorbed by a business software company called Intuit when they bought out the company in 1993. Intuit already owns many tax related computer programs but Turbo Tax quickly became one of their popular sellers.
The reason? They follow the old adage: “Keep it simple, stupid.”
Each and every question from beginning to end is led by the program once step at a time. Users will find no complexity here as everything is answered in either a yes, no or fill in the figure.
Nothing here is the luck of the draw; the program will double check the work (with the information users provided) to make sure things add-up. At anytime an error is made or found the user can go back to any part of the process and fix it without missing a beat.
Don’t know a ‘Sin Tax’ from a ’Surtax’? No worries, Turbo Tax have an extensive help section that not only defines tax jargon but offers tips and directions (audio and video) to assist the user.
Still lost? Turbo Tax has it covered, enter the Live Community ask your questions there.
It’s filled with tax solutions written by tax vets and other Turbo Tax users. It even has an option to use a tax professional to help users through their filing for a small payment.
All this, and more, plus a full guarantee protection of user’s personal information makes Turbo Tax well worth the cost. And the awards it has earned over the years.
With the successes of Turbo Tax, many other companies are putting their hat in the arena. Some with good programs, but none of them was quite a match for Turbo Tax – that is until H&R Block released Tax Cut.
Tax Cut has many of features of Turbo Tax such as ease of use and extensive help option. Tax Cut however has some features that are exclusive to H&R Block brand name, such as ‘Audit Support’.
This means if somehow the user is audited H&R Block will sent a tax agent to help them through the process with IRS. Also if there is a calculation error on their part they will pay the IRS fees + plus interest.
Another advantage to Tax Cut is, like Turbo Tax, users can talk to a Tax Consultant for help. However Tax Cut will provide that assistance for free for the first time.
Finally the boxed version of Tax Cut can be updated by the user. By doing that users can reuse the same software every year to do future taxes. Even use information from other financial programs (even Turbo Tax) that user’s have. This saves some money by not buying new tax software every year, but user must reinstall and update the program each year.
Tax software on paper sounds like a great idea, but is it as accessible and ‘fool-proof’ as they say.; What about the tax CPA’s who been helping people, for years – what do they think about these programs?
James W. Stone is a once such tax professional of 30 years who also happens to be a Minster as well. In his opinion he says that a person would input more information into a tax program than by paper
“It’s more precise… Certain icons won’t let you (complete the program) without answering questions first.” He also said “You’ve got to be careful because certain people can get into your computer and get your personal information and banking numbers.”
Currently, high-end tax programs have many protections to prevent malicious people from getting a user filing information. However such things have been know to happen despite the precautions.
Another piece of advice Stone had was to research carefully the different programs right now are vying for people attention. If someone’s going to buy particular software, research it, don’t go by reputation alone.
“Tax programs are quick and accurate, but only as smart as the person who uses them.”
Turbo Tax and Tax Cut, however, provide a basic, free, version of their software available online. These versions are federal tax only and have a few limitations, but they are great trial versions for those still on the fence. Whatever you do though get crackin, today is the last day and you don’t what the IRS to have words with you.