Category Archives: Taxes

Tax Act and a Business Tax Tip Roundup Here at Crunch Time

Last week, I chose Tax Act as my tax preparation software for tax year 2008.  Last night I began preparing our taxes using the software.  Although I have not yet completed our taxes, here is a run down of the features that I am finding helpful: 

·      TaxAct offers the user a tour, which helped me anticipate the process and what guidance would be available to me while I complete my taxes.

·      Information Method choices:

a.     Q&A Entry/Interview Method – this provides the simplest process.  You enter information based on answers to questions that are asked interview-style.   Your information is transferred to all applicable forms, including the state return; or

b.     Tax Form Entry – where you fill in tax forms electronically just as you would on paper.  The only difference is that as you fill out one form and any information applicable to other forms is automatically transferred to the other forms, including the state return. 

·      Joint vs. Separate Comparison allows you to see the difference in filing married filing jointly or married filing separately.

·      National Averages Comparison “identifies hotspots that may catch the eye of the IRS, and let you know where you stand with respect to the rest of the taxpaying public.”

·      TaxWatch 2009 lays out changes that will occur in 2009, the impact of those changes, as well as tax-planning tips.

·      Next Year Step – helps you look forward to filing taxes for tax year 2009 by helping you determine your withholding allowances and to adjust your withholding to prevent over- or under-withholdings. 

·      Tax Calculator helps you perform “what-if scenarios to determine your tax liability for both this year and the coming years.”

·      TaxTutor Guidance features expert tax assistance, including J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax Guide

Tax Tips Around the Web

Tax time is right around the corner, here are a few places to find business tax tips right here at crunch time:

Madison DuPaix at My Dollar Plan writes about Tax Deductions for the Self Employed.

Jennifer Molin at bMighty writes about Tax Tips: How To Deduct Your Home Office, And Why You Want To Avoid Penalties.

Gina L. Gwozdz, CPA at Tax Tips Blog answers a question from one of her readers about tax tips for when you Convert Personal Residence to Rental.

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I Picked My Tax Software and Discovered a Rat

The time has come for me to decide which tax preparation software or online filing version to use for our taxes.  I thought about writing a full comparison of tax software. But, who am I kidding?  I went to a couple of comparison websites – where the comparisons are already done for you.  I already know what I am looking for and I will tell you which one I’ve chosen in just one moment. 

This will be the second year that I am on a joint tax return with my husband but the first year that I will complete a joint return myself.  I have done my own taxes in the past as a single person, but last year, a friend of ours that is a tax preparer filed our first joint tax return for tax year 2007.   This year, I am also considering taking deductions relating to my sole proprietorship  – Aspire to Grace.  So, I am looking for software that will provide more comprehensive guidance.  For the most part, I have all of our information for input.  I can account for all of our income, charitable contributions, stock and other investment income and losses, as well as business expenses.  I will need the most guidance on when to take credits or deductions.  I want a software that will provide this guidance for personal income as well as for business transactions.

Some of the most popular tax preparation assistance comes from the following:

Intuit’s Turbo Tax

Tax Cut

Tax Slayer

Tax Act 2008

IRS free tax file

I found comparisons for these and other tax software at Top Ten Reviews and Consumer Search.  Based on these comparisons and the things that I was looking for, I decided to go with Tax Act.   Tax Act has specific guidance for finding deductions, and also has a guided interview interface, which I would prefer.  It seems to be the most elementary guidance.  The only thing that Tax Act doesn’t offer that I would have preferred is a chat feature, where you can get instant tax advice.  However, it still has unlimited tax advice via email or phone.  So, it was worth it to me to pay a lot less ($19.95, including the state return) versus the runner-up version at TurboTax ($99.95, including state return).

Here’s the Rat

Let me explain what seems to be the cause of the great disparity in price between Tax Act and Turbo Tax, and another factor reinforcing my choice of Tax Act.  When I anticipated purchasing tax software, I assumed I would have to buy a home and business version to include my sole proprietorship in the return.  When I researched filing for a sole proprietorship, I discovered that I would need to file schedule C to form 1040.   Tax Act says that schedule C to form 1040 can be filed with its Free Online Standard version, Deluxe version and its Ultimate Bundled version.  I chose the Ultimate Bundled version because it included the state filing and also had the most features of all of the non-business software versions.

When I first decided to go with Tax Act, however, I discovered that Tax Act did not make a Macintosh version.  Since I do most of my non-work tasks on my Macintosh, I initially thought about going with the next runner up software – TurboTax, which has a Mac version (come on, isn’t it about time that Tax Act get a Mac verion?).   Anyway, TurboTax seems to require you to purchase their Home and Business version when filing for a sole proprietorship, which is $65 more than their basic version.

The discrepancies in price among the TurboTax choices, as well as between TurboTax and Tax Act, all seemed rather excessive to me, so I decided to just go with the Tax Act software and install it to my work laptop.  It is a small inconvenience for me to switch computers versus taking an $80 hit in the difference in price between TurboTax and Tax Act.  Unless I am missing something, it is rather ridiculous that TurboTax would require you to go to their business software to merely file a schedule addition to your personal income tax on form 1040.

Now that I’ve got the software, I should be completing our taxes this weekend.  Finally.

Do you complete your own taxes? Which software did you choose to go with, if any?  Please share any experiences that you’ve had with Tax Act. 

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