turbo tax

By: sandyb

Turbo Tax,Turbo Tax

Last year's tax preparation was a breeze, thanks to Quicken's Turbo Tax. I may have even developed an addiction, but a continuing dependence on Turbo Tax is understandable. The thoughts of returning to the stressful pen and paper filing days of the past is terrifying. An average tax return takes about eight hours to prepare. Turbo Tax can cut that time in half and then some. I admit clinging to last year's Quicken's Turbo Tax; then I saw Quicken's Turbo Tax for Tax Year 2000. How could they improve on the leading tax preparation software for quick and easy preparation and filing of 1999 tax returns? One of this year's innovations is the ATR the Automated Tax Return- that enables users to electronically import W-2 and 1099 tax information directly into the correct tax form in Turbo Tax.

The easy-to-use interview system from last year remains the same. It gathers facts and figures using EasyStep Interview questions that are customized to each taxpayer's unique situation. The step-by-step process is clear and easy to understand. The EasyStep Progress Bar at the top of the screens quickly becomes a favorite feature as it shows you where you are in the preparation process. With a click, the drop-down Navigator lists all the program's steps. The Navigator is also handy for getting from one section to another when entering data from your employer, banks, and brokerage firms.

Folder Tabs organize your information in logical categories such as Personal Information, Income Deductions, Taxes, Credits, etc. Even if you are a novice and this is your first try with a software tax preparation program, all you do is follow the interview until your tax return is complete. For us addicted Turbo Tax users, the Navigator lets you immediately jump to familiar parts of the interview. You can even bypass the interview and go directly to the applicable forms.

Last year I was impressed with the program's ability to import financial information and summaries from other financial software and automatically drop it into the correct part of the return. If you happen to be a user of Intuit's Quicken or QuickBooks, all relevant data from Quicken products can be quickly imported into Turbo Tax. This is where Turbo Tax 2005 is impressive. The ATR feature retrieves common tax information wages, interest, dividends and stock transactions from participating companies and automatically enters that information in the correct forms in Turbo Tax. The ATR feature is great for dividend and capital gains information if you are lucky enough to be using one of the participating companies such as Ceridian, PeopleSoft, ProBusiness, Cititrade, Fidelity Investments, Solomon Smith Barney, TD Waterhouse, T. Rowe Price, and The Vanguard Group. If your investment company or payroll company is not partnered with Turbo Tax, ATR will be useless. Hopefully in the future the list of companies will be substantially increased.

Importing information seems to be a true talent of Turbo Tax Business. Information from your last year's Turbo Tax return can be transferred, but the program does not stop there. Turbo Tax 1040 products can also transfer last year's tax information from H & R Block's TaxCut and Microsoft's Tax Saver programs.

Not only is instructional help offered, but error checking is also available. According to the IRS, 20% of tax returns prepared manually contain errors; only 1% of returns filed electronically have errors. Turbo Tax's program catches and corrects errors during the Interview and again at the end of the Interview after all data has been entered. Turbo Tax's audit feature is described as "sharp" as it checks for entry errors and audit triggers. It even points out possible overlooked deductions and compares your return to the national average. Turbo Tax also includes an EasyStep Summary to recap all the information you have entered.

After you are confident that your return is correct, Turbo Tax accommodates the old-habits-are-hard-to-change filers by allowing you to print your return on IRS approved forms and mail it in "the old fashioned way." For the brave new world citizens, Turbo Tax offers electronic filing which is the fastest and easiest way of filing your tax return. By electronically filing, citizens can get their refund in as little as ten days compared to six weeks when filing by mail. Turbo Tax customers e-filed more than 5.8 million federal and state returns last year, accounting for more than 80% of e-filed federal returns. Taxpayers who file electronically will receive an electronic date and time stamp receipt for their returns. This "postmark" confirms the date and time their return was submitted to the IRS.

The cost of the Turbo Tax program is $14.95 after a $5 mail-in rebate, and that includes one free federal electronic filing. This expense might be well worth the price, especially if you will be getting a refund. If you are on the other side of the fence and have to pay, this year Turbo Tax will allow you to pay any tax due with a Discovery Card. You might want to check into another new accommodation, Quick Cash, a refund anticipating loan feature. Also available this year with 2005 Turbo Tax is Tax Advisor, a referral network of professional tax experts, and easy access to two new charity portals to select from thousands of charitable organizations to get a jump on next year's deductions.

Quicken Turbo Tax for the Web, another new feature for the 2005 tax year, is a powerful tool with the same features and functionality as the desktop product. With Turbo Tax for the Web, users are not required to purchase or download software. Tax returns can be completed entirely online at any computer with Internet access. Intuit uses 128-bit SSL encryption to secure transmission of tax data and assures there is no third party involved in data transmission.

Turbo Tax Deluxe is an easy way to use a tax preparation software package. It takes some of the pain out of tax time. Although it costs slightly more than some competing software, it is accurate and easy to use. My Turbo Tax addiction will continue at least for another year.

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