Saturday, February 13, 2010

Product Review: TaxACT Online

Having gathered all the information I need to file my taxes for 2009, I logged into CompleteTax.com to begin. I've filed my federal and state returns using CompleteTax for the past 4 years and it has been easy and affordable. I think it was about $35-40 last year for the same service I needed this year. Last year was my first time needing a Schedule C, and it went without a hitch. Except that we forgot to actually print it out after filing. That is not really a problem for submitting it to the IRS... that went fine, but we just forgot to print a copy for our records. So, when this year rolled around and we considered hiring a real CPA to do our taxes, I needed a copy and couldn't get one. Long story short... it took a month and cost me $10 to get a .pdf version of our 2008 return through CompleteTax, and dealing with their help staff left me annoyed.

I decided not to use a CPA because I'd have to get everything basically ready anyway, and was still planning to use CompleteTax for our 2009 return if only because it would auto-import all the necessary data from the 2008 return. This year they rolled out a 4 tier pricing structure, and charged fees depending on one's "individual tax needs". Unfortunately (for them), there didn't seem to be a way to log in and select any other version than their most expensive "premium" tax return service since I own a small business. Surely I need not pay $79.99 to e-file both state and federal, right? Apparently I would using CompleteTax. I wrote them a snippy email asking what my options were with their software, but they still haven't responded yet. So sad. Not giving up my intended completion deadline, this morning I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and re-enter all the info from the 2008 return into whatever new program I decided to use.

After a bit of Googling reviews of other, hopefully less expensive e-filing software provided some surprising revelations. Turbotax was universally the highest ranked software (not surprising, actually), but the requisite fee would have been equitable to CompleteTax's small fortune. Then there was TaxACTonline... it came in 2nd and 3rd in the overall comparisions I found and cost (get this) a whopping $17.95 to e-file both state and federal and any other common forms necessary. Higher ranked than CompleteTax! Bingo! All the reviews said it was user friendly and thorough, so here we go...

After signing up for a new account, the first thing I was asked was whether or not I had a .pdf version of my 2008 return to import. What? I don't have to manually enter all that again? Awesome. It took about 5 seconds to import. Beautiful.

4 heavily interrupted hours later (I was simultaneously feeding and dosing and distracting 3 children) and... *tada!*... I'm all done! Despite a little bit of confusion surrounding expensing 2009-purchased section 179 property with this particular software, it went quickly and without too much angst. So I saved more than $60 by switching from CompleteTax.com, and the process was just as quick and painless as it has been e-filing in the past.

Ahh, the one day each year that I'm completely on top of the financial arena.... now I'm going to go have a snowball fight and bake Valentine's Day cookies :)

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