Taxes

The Tax Man Cometh: My Review of Turbo Tax Deluxe 2010

Internal Revenue Service Envelope With Darth Vader Stamp

A new year has come, the US Congress has passed a last-minute tax package, the IRS holds processing itemized returns until February 15, and taxes aren’t due until April 16 this year.  This has been a very interesting year for taxes!

This year, as in many past years I chose again to go with TurboTax Deluxe + State.  I scooped it up at Costco when they had a coupon available, as I have gotten into the habit of doing.  However, may deals still abound for TurboTax; at this point in the tax season amazon.com is selling Turbo Tax Deluxe for $41.99 which is only a couple dollars more than I paid for it @ Costco  – a very good deal!

What follows is my experience with Turbo Tax Deluxe 2010:

The Federal Form

The Federal 1040 tax return form is the bread and butter of TurboTax.  This year, as TurboTax started to guide me through the 1040, step by step, asking questions along the way, I again as in the past found that it was extremely helpful to have it import my information from last year – it helped me realize where I may be missing some paperwork (for things I filed last year but didn’t have any papers for this year) and it also saved me a lot of time.  One areas where it saved a notable amount of time was entering the names of each company I hold stock in – everything was preset from last year and I simply needed to enter the new dividend amounts.  It may seem small, but there are many examples where I was able to leverage last year’s return for my benefit.  Now, if you didn’t file with TurboTax last year, don’t worry – it is still a breeze to punch in your information as it walks you through the prompts and you will be all set for years to come (if you choose to stay with TurboTax).

Some might wonder why I chose to buy TurboTax on a CD and install it on my computer.  Well, there is one large reason: personal privacy & security.  Though I am sure Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, guard their online tax data very closely, it is still vulnerable.  I work with software security every day, and I can tell you that almost anything can be breached with the right amount of effort.  Now, if you’ve locked your credit reports (which if you haven’t done DO IT NOW)  you don’t have too much to worry about, but it is still disconcerting to think of the very real possibility that a data breach at Intuit could cause your Tax Data, including DOB, SSN, income information, etc to end up in the wrong hands.

This year I again used ItsDeductable Online to track all of my charitable contributions, which I then imported into TurboTax.  There are 2 very good things about ItsDeductable: First, it uses eBay data to give your donated charitable items a true fair-market valuation.  This allows you to correctly value the common household items (that are in good condition) you have donated to thrift stores or charitable organizations.  You might be surprised at the fair-market value of the items you donate, for me the value seems to be more than I anticipate!  The second good thing about ItsDeductable is that it is totally free.

I was very satisfied overall with the quality and completeness of the federal forms.  It handled everything that I needed it to with ease.   I didn’t notice any glitches, bugs or strange behavior.  I did run into a couple spots where I wasn’t sure on the details of the tax law, and having the reference information immediately available on the right side, including other user’s Q&A about the particular line on the form I was working on was very helpful.

The State Form

The state form did not take much time at all.  I live in a state with income tax, but most of the information needed TurboTax sources very rapidly from the Federal 1040.  There were a few items that I needed to deal with on the state form: 529 plan contributions, food bank donations and detailed property tax information.  Once I entered those few items I was done.  It literally took almost no time at all to do the state form.

I e-filed my federal form (because it was “free”) but I printed my state form, as I didn’t see the advantage of paying an extra $20 to get my refund only a few days sooner.

Conclusion

Intuit has again put out a good, easy to use product for 2010.  I was able to complete my taxes in one evening – despite the fact that I itemized and had many special things to enter and account for.  It’s been awhile since I used (and abandoned) TaxCut – and TurboTax has given me no reason to leave; I still feel it is a quality product and worth the price.

Visit amazon.com now to get a good deal on the version of TurboTax that is right for you!

TurboTax 2010 Version Selection Graphic

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