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I like TurboTax for tax preparation
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I like TurboTax for tax preparation

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 10.54.22 AMIt is that time of year again when we have to render unto Caesar. Time for tax preparation. I certainly prefer Spring Break but taxes have to be paid, and maybe you have a refund coming. Wouldn’t that make Spring Break more pleasant.

So, like every year I load up Intuit’s TurboTax software to prepare my tax returns. Intuit changed the name from QuickTax last year to standardize the brand name for its tax preparation software across markets. Since I switched to Mac this year i had to use the Web version of TurboTax for the first time because the boxed application is only available for Windows.

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I approached the Web Version with a tiny bit of trepidation as I have been using the boxed Windows software for so many years this would be a new experience for me. However, as soon as I logged on to the TurboTax website I relaxed when a very familiar interface popped up. I was able to quickly import my data from last year and launched into the interview. This was new to me, as an experienced user of the boxed software I used to bypass the interview process and manually select the slips and forms I needed. I thought it was quicker.

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Well, I was delighted to find the interview to be intuitive and pretty much just as quick as it was the way I used to do it. As well, I found out that I could skip back and forth between slips and forms just as easily as I did with the boxed product. In fact I found the interview led me through a more logical way to prepare my tax returns that the somewhat haphazard manner to which I had become accustomed.

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Because of the ability to skip around I wasn’t locked into the interview for example if I came to a slip that I didn’t immediately have at hand I could skip forward knowing I could quickly come back to it later. Before I knew it my returns, my wife’s and mine were done and ready to Netfile with full confidence that TurboTax’s tools made sure I had considered all my possible deductions and that the math was correct.

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Intuit has a variety of versions of its personal tax software  suitable for every tax situation. There are three options each for online or Download/Boxed versions.

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cd.standardStandard: Great for individuals, couples and families with relatively uncomplicated returns. It is $17.99 per online return or $39.99 for the Download/Boxed version including 8 returns.

 

cd.premierPremier: Ideal for investors and Property owners it provides specialized tax help with investments and rental properties. It is $32.99 per online return or $69.99 for the Download/Boxed version including 12 returns.

 

cd.home-busHome and Business: Ideal for professionals and small business owners. This version of TurboTax includes everything from the Premier version, and adds functionality to help you maximize your business deductions and expenses. It is $44.99 per online return plus $17.99 for spouse or $99.99 for the Download/Boxed version including 12 returns.

It is worth noting that the Standard version can handle investments and business income and expenses. So, if you know your way around a complex tax return, you don’t need to upgrade. However, you won’t get any wizards or optimizers for investment/rental/business income and deductions when you use the Standard version. I don’t feel comfortable doing it without help so I find it worthwhile to upgrade to the Home and Business version.

Now, if you have a really simple tax return own an iPhone and meet the following criteria you can use SnapTax for $9.99 per return. I have never seen tax preparation this simple.

I have tried other less expensive products and always come back to TurboTax. I have used it every year for at least 15 years and  it has never let me down. I have rarely need it but when I did customer support for both technical and tax questions has been quick, polite and reliable. Sure it cost a bit more than some of the others but in my experience you get what you pay for.

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Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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