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Old 02-09-2020, 06:11 PM
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What tax software is better than TurboTax now?


Own a house and some stocks. Nothing remarkable.

I've used TurboTax for years but it is now so expensive for it's services and last year they printed up the wrong forms and got us into some trouble with the state. What tax software is considered the best for basic preparation?
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:55 PM
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I have a friend who uses Credit Karma and she is quite happy with it. I'm strictly a TurboTax guy myself. I think HR Block has a web tool, too, but I can't vouch for it.
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:57 PM
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I'd suggest OLT.com. It's free, with the full version only $7.95 (plus $7.95 for your state return). State return in $9.95 if you use the free IRS option.

It gives you access to all forms. I have some Schedule C income, which makes Turbotax far too expensive (the version with a Schedule C is more than I earned). I've used it the past few years.
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:07 PM
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I use either TT or HRBlock. I figure spending less than a hundred bucks is worth it for the peace of mind that I didn't miss anything... and maybe get a deduction I would've missed.

Last edited by digs; 02-09-2020 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 02-10-2020, 10:51 AM
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The hot contender on the Personal Finance subreddit is FreeTaxUsa.com. One tip is to run your numbers through TurboTax and FreeTaxUsa and if they're the same or close, file with FreeTax.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:40 AM
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I'm in the same boat, own a house and a handful of stocks. I used to use Turbo Tax until they started charging extra just for the stocks. I switched over to H&R Block and have used it for the last few years. I've not had any problems with it, and the state usually comes with it, though they charge you to file the state. I just print out the forms and do them on line or mail them in.

I've usually just gotten it from Amazon for $30-40.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:58 AM
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Free File: File Your Taxes Online for Free

If your 2019 adjusted gross income was $69,000 or less, you may find one or more Free File Online options for you. Review each company's offer to make sure you qualify for a free federal return. Some companies offer free state tax returns; others may charge a fee.
https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/
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Old 02-10-2020, 12:29 PM
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I've used the HR Block web portal for several years now. About 4 or 5 years ago it was pretty clumsy in that it didn't prompt you well for uncommon deductions/credits or state-specific things. It wouldn't tell you that you live in a sales tax state, for example, and you had to dig a bit and have the foreknowledge that you should add those items.

The recent few years usability have improved a lot. I'm pretty simple, though. No home business, no investment income sources, so your-mileage-may-vary.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:34 PM
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TurboTax is owned by Intuit and they suck. I use the H&R Block free file, they're not very ethical either on the lobbying front but they aren't as bait and switchy as TurboTax (if you use them, always access through going to irs.gov first). At the time I started using them, they were better UI than TT or TaxAct.

Otherwise, Credit Karma or FreeTaxUSA are generally respected and problem free.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:47 PM
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I've used TaxAct for my free filing the last 3 years now. The first 2 years were great, but this most recent filing they somehow failed to ask basic questions about the 3 tax forms I had in my possession. I had to go back through their process multiple times until I got it all right and got the correct amount returned.

For instance, they somehow assumed that my son, who is a 100% dependent, did not qualify me for the EIC / Additional Child Tax credit. Why? Because on the form it said he lived with me 0 months out of 12. Did they ask me to fill this out? No, they did not. Best I can tell, they just stuck in the default value of 0 after copying the previous year's data to this year. This is a critically bad issue for any software claiming to find you the best tax return.

Similarly, I could not get them to ask me for my 1098-T form (listing scholarships and grants). I had to go back and try this about 5 or 6 times until I finally got to the form.

I might switch to a different software next year.

Last edited by Limmin; 02-10-2020 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 02-10-2020, 03:09 PM
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A couple years ago, I did an informal head-to-head challenge of Turbo Tax and Credit Karma Tax. Not a completely simple return, with employee stock purchase, dividends, savings interest, mortgage interest, property tax, charitable donations, and vehicle license fees, and they came out to the same amount. Not close. Equal.

Why spend anything on Turbo Tax when the same results can be had for free?
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Old 02-10-2020, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
I have a friend who uses Credit Karma and she is quite happy with it. I'm strictly a TurboTax guy myself. I think HR Block has a web tool, too, but I can't vouch for it.
I have very simple needs, and Credit Karma is solid. It's truly free, unlike most other online tax prep apps which have a free tier but either require payment to complete filing or constantly try to upsell you on more services. I know somebody who once didn't report a certain (small but nonzero) income source because they'd prepared their entire return in one app only to discover adding that income would require an upcharge. Not a great look.

My only complain with Credit Karma is that, last year, some of the fields were labelled strangely and their state return forms were less user-friendly than the federal. I'm hoping this year is a bit more polished.
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Old 02-10-2020, 03:35 PM
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A couple years ago, I did an informal head-to-head challenge of Turbo Tax and Credit Karma Tax. Not a completely simple return, with employee stock purchase, dividends, savings interest, mortgage interest, property tax, charitable donations, and vehicle license fees, and they came out to the same amount. Not close. Equal.

Why spend anything on Turbo Tax when the same results can be had for free?
I mean why shouldn't they though? Some are more or less user-friendly, or some don't ask the proper questions about sources of income. But those are all pretty standard itemizations.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:02 PM
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Anything that professionals like me use.

It's very strange seeing these conversations among people who prepare their own taxes, given that by definition the people I have the most contact with professionally get their tax returns prepared by professionals, and it leads me to think practically everyone does until I see threads like this. While certainly a lot of our clients have good reasons to come to us, another lot of them don't have any reason other than inertia and laziness.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:13 AM
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I just started volunteering at the local AARP Tax Preparation service. This service is FREE for both preparation and filing, federal and state. At our location, we have no age limit and no income limit. We don't handle certain complicated tax situations, but wages, dividends, interest, retirement income, property tax, and other "usual" situations are acceptable.

I recommend checking out your local area for this type of service.

J.
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Old 02-14-2020, 03:43 AM
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My only complain with Credit Karma is that, last year, some of the fields were labelled strangely and their state return forms were less user-friendly than the federal. I'm hoping this year is a bit more polished.
One other tax issue I've had with Credit Karma: although they have an amended return feature, they allow only a limited window of time to use it. I couldn't get an official answer from them, but based on my experience it appears to be about six months from tax day. I tried to use it in early November and got a "Credit Karma Tax is now closed" message.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:18 AM
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https://www.freefilefillableforms.com/#/fd

Basically pen and paper but you can type everything in instead.
  #18  
Old 02-15-2020, 12:47 PM
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For instance, they somehow assumed that my son, who is a 100% dependent, did not qualify me for the EIC / Additional Child Tax credit. Why? Because on the form it said he lived with me 0 months out of 12. Did they ask me to fill this out? No, they did not. Best I can tell, they just stuck in the default value of 0 after copying the previous year's data to this year. This is a critically bad issue for any software claiming to find you the best tax return.
I spent a few hours trying to figure out why, what should have been a moderately sized (state) refund was a really high balance due. I finally figured out that I entered my W-2 wrong and left the state tax withheld box empty. I'm surprised it didn't pick up on that.

IIRC, last year I started with credit karma, but ultimately ended up filing with taxact. Sometimes I'll use two programs and make sure the numbers match. I think I ended up filing the federal return for free (with taxact).
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:40 PM
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Old 02-15-2020, 01:58 PM
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I spent a few hours trying to figure out why, what should have been a moderately sized (state) refund was a really high balance due. I finally figured out that I entered my W-2 wrong and left the state tax withheld box empty. I'm surprised it didn't pick up on that.
I was a loyal TaxAct user for many years, until I had an experience similar to yours. On my state return, TA should have copied the contents of one box into another box, but it didn't. I didn't figure out the error until after I had filed, and had to file an amended return to get my money back. That, plus the upselling and escalating prices, soured me on TaxAct.
  #21  
Old 02-15-2020, 02:33 PM
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I was a loyal TaxAct user for many years, until I had an experience similar to yours. On my state return, TA should have copied the contents of one box into another box, but it didn't. I didn't figure out the error until after I had filed, and had to file an amended return to get my money back. That, plus the upselling and escalating prices, soured me on TaxAct.
Back when I used to use Turbo Tax, they had a section asking about HSA disbursements, so I copied the number from my 1099-HSA. I had no idea, in a totally separate, unrelated section, there was a question about how much of your disbursements was spent on medical care. I'm lucky I caught that one, otherwise I would have paid tax on all that money, as well as a penalty.
It seems to me that the page that asks about HSA disbursements could include a simple checkbox that says "Check here all or part of this money was not spent on qualified medical expenses" or something to the effect.

But, that's just another reason why it's not a terrible idea to do it on two different programs. It doesn't take that much longer and it's good for finding mistakes.

Last edited by Joey P; 02-15-2020 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 02-15-2020, 04:19 PM
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For any Canadian who happens on this thread, I recommend StudioTax. Very good and totally free, although I usually send them 25 bucks for four returns.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:35 AM
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Another Canadian one: I've been using UFile for the last few years and never had a problem. It even handles business and professional income.
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Old 02-16-2020, 12:40 PM
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I’m convinced they’re all the same for the average person. So, I use the H&R Block because it already have some of the information saved. I’m sure I’ll need the ‘deluxe’ version because of...something. I’ve already accepted that I’ll be raped for the cost and plus whatever they charge for state.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:13 PM
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I just paid too much to use Turbotax this year. Already filed, not going back.

Which other software/online sites can import my 2019 taxes next year when I file for 2020? I want a cheaper and equally good option.
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Old 02-17-2020, 02:32 AM
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What do you need to import? Cost basis is pretty important, the rest not so much, it's trivial to input EINs
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Old 02-17-2020, 12:33 PM
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What do you need to import? Cost basis is pretty important, the rest not so much, it's trivial to input EINs
I agree that I could re-type everything again. I was hoping it would import all my data, places of employment, kid, SSN, really all the basics.
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Old 02-17-2020, 12:43 PM
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I agree that I could re-type everything again. I was hoping it would import all my data, places of employment, kid, SSN, really all the basics.
And thatís why I stick with H&R block online, it saves all that crap. I hate filing taxes so at least it makes it easier. And yeah, Iím an adult with a fairly basic tax situation like I bet a lot of us are
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  #29  
Old 02-17-2020, 01:26 PM
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I just paid too much to use Turbotax this year. Already filed, not going back.

Which other software/online sites can import my 2019 taxes next year when I file for 2020? I want a cheaper and equally good option.
Did you use the TurboTax standalone program rather than the website? If you did, and you saved the results as a TurboTax file (I believe the extension is ".tax{yyyy}"), the H&RB program can import it. I'm not sure about the H&RB website, and I can't vouch for how much the program can import, but it should be enough to get you started.

I don't have the world's most complex tax return ó SS and pension income, and the mandatory IRA distributions ó but the Basic version suits me fine; I get it for less than $20. This site (not H&R Block) compares the versions.
  #30  
Old 02-17-2020, 01:43 PM
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I was a loyal TaxAct user for many years, until I had an experience similar to yours. On my state return, TA should have copied the contents of one box into another box, but it didn't. I didn't figure out the error until after I had filed, and had to file an amended return to get my money back. That, plus the upselling and escalating prices, soured me on TaxAct.
I have to concur that this year's TaxAct experience was less than ideal. I was very careful and my returns are fairly simple, but I did not feel confident until I double-checked everything manually. I also don't like the constant upsell attempts, but I supposed that was the price I paid for the "free" service.

Anyway, next year I guess I'll be in the market for one of these other solutions that folks have recommended.
  #31  
Old 02-17-2020, 02:23 PM
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I have to concur that this year's TaxAct experience was less than ideal. I was very careful and my returns are fairly simple, but I did not feel confident until I double-checked everything manually. I also don't like the constant upsell attempts, but I supposed that was the price I paid for the "free" service.

Anyway, next year I guess I'll be in the market for one of these other solutions that folks have recommended.
When I just did mine on TA, I also did it on TT. Got *almost* the same numbers. It took me about 20 minutes to pick through everything and find the mistake. I can't blame their website/software for the one, but it's still why I advocate doing it in two places, especially if you have a lot to enter.

For me, I had about 50 lines of stock trades to enter. That works out to about 1 trade a week but makes for 300 or so entries. That's where I made the mistake. TT could import directly from Etrade, Tax Act can't.

In the end, I ended up using the free option from Turbo Tax, which meant I had to start all over, but I saved $70, so it was worth it.
  #32  
Old 02-18-2020, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Limmin View Post
I've used TaxAct for my free filing the last 3 years now. The first 2 years were great, but this most recent filing they somehow failed to ask basic questions about the 3 tax forms I had in my possession. I had to go back through their process multiple times until I got it all right and got the correct amount returned.

For instance, they somehow assumed that my son, who is a 100% dependent, did not qualify me for the EIC / Additional Child Tax credit. Why? Because on the form it said he lived with me 0 months out of 12. Did they ask me to fill this out? No, they did not. Best I can tell, they just stuck in the default value of 0 after copying the previous year's data to this year. This is a critically bad issue for any software claiming to find you the best tax return.

Similarly, I could not get them to ask me for my 1098-T form (listing scholarships and grants). I had to go back and try this about 5 or 6 times until I finally got to the form.

I might switch to a different software next year.
I've used TaxAct for many years now, too (at one time, they were the cheapest option if you needed a Schedule C), and I had this same problem this year.
After going through the Q&A, it reported I owed a fairly hefty sum. It was only in the "check for errors" step that it bothered to ask how long my kids lived with me during the year. In past years, I'm pretty sure it confirmed this during the step where it imported dependent info from last year's return.

Other than that, though, it's been perfectly serviceable. But it would be possible to make a fairly expensive mistake and skip the "check for errors" step if you didn't know something seemed amiss.
  #33  
Old 02-18-2020, 03:55 PM
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I agree that I could re-type everything again. I was hoping it would import all my data, places of employment, kid, SSN, really all the basics.
I've used TurboTax in the past and tried FreeTaxUsa this year. I imported in the PDF I saved from TT last year, and it did a decent job with the data you're talking about. There were some gaps, like it populated all the dependent info except birth dates, but overall it wasn't really more work to switch.
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