Best Tax Software?

Best Tax Software-Best Tax Prep Software

It is tax time and, like most people, you are probably scrambling to get your paperwork in order for your CPA. Probably feeling a little frazzled with this last year and looking for a few ways to cut corners. One way you can do this is to use the best income tax software program instead of your CPA. With the most basic of returns, this would be a good choice.

By simple, I mean you are single, employed with a company that pays your taxes, no outside second job or business, you rent and probably are making car payments, and your income is under $30,000.00 a year. Stimulus incentives are probably your biggest question mark.

If you are this person, then I would recommend a tax filing software system like Turbo Tax to you as a best personal tax software. You also have the option of the quick filing returns with the local tax processors like a bevy of those guys you see on every other commercial at tax season.

Best Tax Software Review-Turbo Tax

Why should you use Turbo Tax?  Well . . . , according to Turbo Tax it's for these six simple reasons:

1.       You'll get the biggest refund - guaranteed! *(*Disclaimer - "*If you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method, we’ll refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state purchase price paid. TurboTax Federal Free Edition customers are entitled to payment of $14.95 and a refund of your state purchase price paid. Claims must be submitted within sixty (60) days of your TurboTax filing date and no later than 6/15/10. E-file, Audit Defense, Professional Review, Ask a Tax Expert, Refund Transfer and technical support fees are excluded. This guarantee cannot be combined with the TurboTax Satisfaction (Easy) Guarantee.")

2.       It is EASY - They use plain English questions to ask you simple information about your returns

3.       You are NEVER ALONE - They have a support system set-up that helps answer your questions and take the mystery out of tax filing for you.

4.       Audit Risk is reduced - They have a built in audit risk thermometer that helps you determine if your expenses may seem out of proportion by alerting you that you need to look again at that particular item.

5.       Rated #1 - Turbo Tax boasts a #1 rating in the best tax filing software sales consistently each year.

6.       Safe & Secure - Your personal and business information is protected by tested and secure online systems in place.

Best Tax Software-Tax Software Review

Reasons I Would NOT Use Turbo Tax:

  1. There really is no guarantee that you are organized and efficient enough to meet the disclaimer guidelines and deadlines on the refund policy as it is stated. They would go broke if that were the case - truly, just think about it.
  2. It's Easy - Since when has tax code ever been easy? Most people use plain English when it comes to asking and answering questions - especially a good CPA, because they know that your likelihood of being audited depends on their clear understanding of what you want and hope to accomplish with your personal and business goals. They also know that, in the event of an audit, that they will be required to explain the thinking behind the line item in question.
  3. You are never ALONE. No CPA worth their weight would EVER abandon you in an audit situation unless you are a liar and a cheat and they don't find out until late in the game. Most will either go with you or go on your behalf. Turbo Tax offers the same service. Both turbo tax and a CPA will charge you for this extra service.
  4. If anything changes on your return you will need to file an amended return. You'll need to submit these amended forms on paper, not electronically. You typically have 3 years to file an amended return within your original filing date - assuming all taxes are paid and due, if all taxes are not paid in full then your limit for filing an amended return is shortened from a three year window to two years.
  5. Your audit risk is reduced. That is simply a false statement. An audit risk is calculated on a year by year accumulation basis by the IRS. You may think you are getting away with writing off holidays as business travel this year because you got away with it last year. Wrong. the IRS uses a point system when it comes to calculating tax audits. Their threshold may be 100 points on travel and maybe you came in at 99 points - this year. Next year, you will go over the points threshold and they will want to know about the year before too. That's when you get the audit.
  6. With Turbo Tax, You can talk to a tax professional with the Ask a Tax Expert service, have your return reviewed by a professional, or purchase Audit Defense coverage so that you are professionally represented in the event of an audit. If you are concerned about preparing your own return, these extra services will cost you money. Keep in mind that any company that has developed a thorough audit department does so because they are in a lot of audits. Hmmmm . . .
  7. With your CPA, you can talk to a tax professional who will give you expert tax advice in person, on the phone or by email. They will also represent and defend you in the event of an audit. They will not go to jail for you. Nobody will.
  8. Turbo Tax says they are rated #1 in tax software sales and consider themselves to be the best tax software in town. There is no doubt that they offer an unlimited level of information on tax issues and subjects that you can also get by visiting the irs.gov website. Irs.gov even has their own IRS youtube channel with over 65 relevant videos (plus text) on tax filing tips.
  9. Safe and secure online filing - Yes, So does your CPA.

Best Tax Software-The Best Tax Software

So, for me, when I think of the best tax software, I think of the one that my CPA uses to process my tax returns. I take into consideration that he goes to school every year to stay current on information to help his clients with their business and personal finances and I marvel at how he can go over financial information and eyeball the things that will help his clients to save money, and help them to engage in profitable business practices, or identify problem areas.

Turbo Tax is great for some. It is a good product for what it offers. My recommendation for anyone with a business - large or small - is to go talk to a good CPA about your business, and make up your own mind.

The best income tax software isn't always the "Free" one that brags about how it saves you money.

Sometimes, the best tax return software is just a cup of hot coffee with a good CPA.

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Best Tax Software Comments 15 comments

kowality profile image

kowality 6 years ago from Everywhere

Great hub. Much needed at tax time. Thank You


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC Author

Thanks, Kowality - Although I'm not a fan of Turbo Tax for other reasons as well, I do understand, respect and appreciate the fact that there are many who are, and for an individual with limited write-offs, I think it's the best way to go. I just wish it wasn't such a red flag for the IRS for audits, because I'm sure others would like it too. Sadly, of my clients who used it - all were audited, so it adds points to your total audit tally with the IRS somehow, and it became a one-shot deal for my clients who used it. Just my 'take' on it . . . Thanks again! ;-)


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

mwatkins, thanks for sharing that. What with gst etc in australia it would be a pain in the butt now. But luckily I am too old to have that problem any more. thanks for sharing this.


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC Author

Thank you, Eileen! You are never too old! Dead - now that is too old.;-) Australia is such a beautiful, hopping place!

When I take care of my clients in Vancouver BC, they have GST AND PST tax as well. One EASY way to record this is to get the QB program for your area, because those programs have separate columns for those taxes or you can keep a simple paper or spreadsheet journal if you don't feel confident with your accounting skills, and have columns for those other taxes that you pay. When we think of nickels and dimes, we need to remember that over a period of 365 days, they become significant. For instance an extra $59.00 a month for a bill doesn't seem like much when you are adding services to your telephone, but it is really more like a $708.00 expense at the end of the year that may (or nay not) be a write off.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Mischelle - NOW you tell me! My husband & I used Turbo-Tax for a rather complicated return for 20 or more years - the last several of which I had to prepare by myself due to his increasing short termm memory loss & gathering dimentia. He passed away a year and a half ago and this year I must file an Estate return plus a personal return for my own personal and ranch income & expenses. Formally my ranch rentals were combined with some royalty income of his. Last year I didn't book any hunts and had no income from the ranch but its expenses marched right along. But many of the more complicated matters were laid to rest before his death - selling some properties out of state, etc. All those were reported via the last joint return.

Anyway - to make a long story shorter, I will be sure the income is all covered to avoid penalties & interest charges & file for an extension, after which I expect I will seek out a CPA to at least check out my returns & give advice - unless I find I have no snafus on my own.

By the way, I always file a paper return. Perhaps they are less 'red flags' than Turbo-Tax e-filed ones. Just a thought?

I've been quite proficient at filing with him and on my own these many years using Turbo-Tax and we were only ever audited once & that was when we were first married & before we used any software program. My past business as a Mary Kay Director came up for questioning & audit, which we managed without a problem. I had all the documentation to back up my expense claims.

Doesn't mean that this year will be a breeze though.

Last year I was still able to file the joint return for the year he'd died and I was very familiar with it.

I'd be much further along with 09s returns had I not come down with shingles, of all things. I've been pretty much knocked off my high horse.

Anyway - I appreciate your advice and obvious knowledge whereof you give it, as well as your lovely comments on my hub just now! I'm glad I came here to "meet" you before replying. I like to meet people through their profiles before launching into a dialog. I feel like I know you already! Not only a kind talened human being but a most practical one, as well!


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC Author

Thank you, Nelliana for your kind words and your information about your experience with this software. I am sorry to hear of your husband. I know that this software works for several people, but I would not throw caution to the wind when using it. My (bottom line) advice is to at least have a consultation with a good CPA about ANY tax return. A consultation is normally free, but if you're willing to kick in for a cup of coffee then it is well worth the money!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Thanks. I expect I will consult with an accountant so long as I'm the estate Independent Administrator. It's not an area I know well nor one where errors might be light-weight. The expense is usually not my mail concern about getting professional help, though. We'v always had so much bookkeeping to be done in preparation (I've used Quicken since it didn't even have a version designation - very early on.) For years (pre-internet addiction!) I logged in every penny spent whether or not it was tax related. Later I became less fussy, so long as all the tax related income and expenses were posted and categorized. It definitely helps prepare the ground work for tax time. Then, with TurboTax, it simplifies getting the figures onto the return and forms pretty well. By that time, I've felt like most of the work was done, especially if I'd kept up pretty well with the tax changes. Now, though - tax changes are fast and furious and not so straightforward. So I do see the value of having at least a review of my returns before sending them off, assuming that a CPA would do that. Thanks again!


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC Author

HI Nellieanna!

Yes, you are absolutely right about having all the parts ready and having your paperwork organized. I was estate administrator for my moms estate and walked a friend through her moms estate administration too. When your heart is hurting it seems like an impossible task, but somehow we get through those challenges. Quicken is a great program - I've used it also, but it is a bit less than what I needed so I went to QuickBooks very quickly. Tax laws change fairly often. If you pick a a CPA to review your taxes who won't look over them for free then get a different CPA to do it. Get a referral for a CPA through a business associate or better yet, from a friend who has or is going through what you are, so you know you are getting a good one who has experience with your particular situation. I say that because most CPA persons have experience slanted for one business situation over another - for instance just because a CPA works with restaurants doesn't mean they have worked with wineries - the two are very different and the rules are as different as grapes and eggs. That way you get the best consultation available. A good CPA will do a review for free as a business builder and network tool. If they find ways to save you additional money then their fee would be to redo the forms for you. Preparation is where they earn extra money, so with you, the cost should be low. My hubby gave me 5 garbage sacks when I met him - filled with folded receipts. It took me 18 hours to unfold them. I phoned him and told him that,"This one is on me, but if you EVER bring me receipts like this again, I will charge you $500.00 an hour to unfold them." It's a PIA fee that they all charge to do the things clients hate to do (like unfold receipts or bringing in boxes of receipts in no date or category order).


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

This is a very useful Software. Not sure we can use it in the UK but I hope there is an equivalent. I use Excel for now. Thanks for sharing. :)


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC Author

Hi Lady_E! I checked on Turbo Tax availability for the UK for you. You have a January 31, filing deadline, unlike our American deadline of April 15. In the states we can have our extension postmarked for the 15th, but you have to have your filing turned in and a postmark doesn't count in the UK, but I hear the filing date is soon to be changed to November 30. Long story short is that I could not determine if Turbo Tax is available for you, but have an email out to the company and will let you know the results as soon as they respond to me. Excel works well if you are savvy about what account items are available to you and if you are not then you can go to any office supply store and get a bookkeeping journal for approx. $9.95, with a list of expense items and explanations on the inside first few pages. Or, you can go online and google chart of accounts and go over one from the internet, or you can go to any bookkeeping society organization and do a search online for a chart of accounts breakdown. Or, ask an accountant to go over your records with you and give you advise on any line item accounts you might be missing. I'll keep you posted on turbo tax. My ultimate favorite combination is QuickBooks and a good CPA. Thanks! ;-)


TINA V profile image

TINA V 6 years ago

Those in the US can use turbo tax for simple tax filing; something that is not complicated. But they can also try to visit the H&R Block website for other options. It is still best to consult the experts if we have some questions or doubts in mind. This is an informative hub.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Thanks so much for the feedback - a lot of options available. I appreciate you checking it out.

Best Wishes

Elena.


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC Author

Tina V - Yes, absolutely - Turbo tax for simple filings. H & R Block has tax preparers who are preparer certified and normally not CPA certified. They have some great info. too, but their normally not as experienced or have as much education as a CPA, and often only work during the tax season and have a high turnover so again, I would say simple tax returns are best for them as well.

Lady E - Elena, I am still waiting for an answer from Turbo Tax for you, but I was told by my best BC Chartered accountant that because of the different deadline dates it is better to not use it in the UK, but once they send me back an email I will pass it on to you! Just got back from being out of town so I will check on this! ;-)


msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

I have always used Turbotax, mwatkins. They really do a good job.


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC Author

msorrensson - I am glad to hear you use it and that you have positive results. Thanks for stopping in! Yes, they do a good job for some people!

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