Poll: Which Tax Software Did You Use In 2011?

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January 31st was the deadline for companies to mail out W-2 forms and 1099 forms involving other income and interest. Coming up is February 15th, the deadline for brokerages to send out 1099-B forms listing stock sale proceeds.

That means you early-birds out there (not me) are probably chomping at the bit to file your taxes! So here’s a question to you readers about last year:

What Did You Use To File Your Tax Return in 2011?

Total Voters: 2,027

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A better question would be why you chose that software – price, convenience, trust, quality of product, or what? Would you have switched if a competitor was $25 cheaper?

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  1. I used esmart by Liberty. I was going to switch to TurboTax this year, but they were almost twice as much and esmart had all my information stored from last year.

  2. I have always preferred H&R Block’s to TurboTax, and it’s cheaper, too. This year I got a free licensed version of TurboTax, so if I don’t find a free copy of Block before I file, I will switch this year for the first time in 15 years.

  3. I started many years ago with pencil and paper and my step dad’s assistance. This was when the IRS still mailed out the paper forms and book. Then in the mid-2000’s I was using Turbo Tax with his assistance. I had several years worth of returns, and my yearly tax information did not change much (I didn’t make many buys or sells of stock, my income didn’t change much, etc). So one year I decided to try Tax Act on my own and had my old returns to look at to make sure my numbers were right. Ever since then, I haven’t had a problem doing it on my own.

  4. I’m using H&R Block at home this year. I got it for $0.01 last year and liked it, and found a good deal on it again this year. I’ve used both H&R Block and TurboTax and have a slight preference towards H&R Block, but I basically buy whatever I can find cheapest.

  5. I’ve used Turbo Tax and Tax Act for years, sometimes together to verify deductions and stock calculations for my ESPP. This year we’re just doing Turbo Tax Deluxe, but I had Premier last year for free as a beta tester, so I already know what it is doing with those ESPP calculations. I figure it really only has cost me half since the price was spread over two years and I can still make suggestions on the new program.

  6. I tried turbo tax in the past but been using taxact for almost 5 years now. It has lot of options which I try with CFP knowledge and also direct access to forms if you want to input them directly. I usually get early bird sign up Delux version for $7.95 compared to $12.95. I also use their business suite for my business which is much better than Turbo business as well.

  7. For a simple return, free fillable forms on the IRS website have always been perfect for me. It’s literally just an electronic edition of the paper firms, but it’s free and faster than the mail. If you’ve done paper forms before, the other software’s interfaces can be more work than the form itself.

  8. I got H&R block for a $.01 last year it was very similar to turbo tax

  9. I got it again for $20 this year so will be using it again, price wins

  10. You should include an option for IRS Free File, which is probably of great interest to your readers. It’s at http://www.freefilefillableforms.com, run by the IRS itself and it’s online and completely free, but doesn’t do any checking at all that the numbers you fill in are correct–basically you’re doing your taxes the pen and paper way, but turning them in and paying electronically.

  11. I’ve been using TurboTax since 1994 (to file my 1993 taxes). Back then they had to send a CD every year, but it made it easier to start by importing the previous year’s return. Also, back then it was probably just a 1040a I printed out, but now if I had to file a hard copy it would be over 100 pages! Yippy for electronic filing, saving to a pdf, and importing last year’s return!

  12. Although I answered “Filed on my own using pen and paper”, it will be second year we will be filing using IRS approved and referred to freefilefillableforms.com. We used to use HR Block software for several years, but with roll out of this site I don’t see the value in any paid tax software anymore. Our taxes aren’t complicated, but we still have mortgage and a few stock trades per year, nevertheless filling out IRS forms rather than using software wizard is just fine after going through it once.

  13. I hired an accountant. I own some rental property, and figuring out what can be expensed vs. amortized, etc… it gets complicated. I’m pretty confident I saved more than the $65 she charges, saved time and headaches, and I definitely feel more comfortable with a pro’s work than my own guesswork, and the guidance of a software program.

    That said, I’ve used TurboTax, HRBlock and Tax Slayer in the past, when I was just filing a 1040EZ. It was easy, free, and I feel I got the refund I deserved. For uncomplicated tax returns, these are fine. If things get trickier, I think it’s worth having a professional who can see the whole picture and ask you pertinent questions take a look.

  14. LargeTalons says

    I also use both TaxAct and TurboTax for verification purposes, but usually efile with TaxAct because it’s cheaper.

  15. I used Taxact instead of HrBLock because HRBlock doesn’t include all the IRS forms. They left out form 8891, for filing Canadian RRSP info. That forced me to do a ‘hybrid’ approach last year, filling in those forms manually, and filing by mail. TaxAct includes the forms.

  16. Have been using TurboTax online for the past few years and have to say that it has always been pretty painless. I got an affirmation this year when my wife had to begin attending some chamber of commerce meeting and a highly respected account said that she’d looks over our past years filings for free. She said that whatever we were doing, we were doing right, she could not find anything wrong at all.

  17. FreeFileFillableForms.com which is e-file 1040 forms for the federal worked well for me. Of course you need to know what you’re filling in, but it does most of the calculations for you as opposed to doing it by hand. Some states now have online forms as well.

  18. I’ve used TurboTax for years, and don’t think I can switch even if I wanted to, because all my Schedule C depreciation stuff is in the program. It would be hard to start from scratch with another company.

  19. +1 for Freefilefillableforms… despite the horrible url.

    It is quite improved this year, more auto calculations, and the servers seem impoved since instruction PDF forms loaded immediatley. I always do it there first, then I load up HR block or taxact and just check that i get the same final number as verification. Cost… $0

  20. I always use the book and do it myself. Last year is the first time I’ve ever made an error, but it wasn’t in the calculation (rather I used a wrong value) so software wouldn’t have saved me anyway.

  21. I’ve used TurboTax for many years. It’s mostly ok, but there were a couple frustrating things last year, which I had to spend unnecessary time on to do a work-around. I also found the interview questions for Schedule C to be incomplete — it did not ask for input to certain fields and I had to go to the “Forms” method and input the data that way. Sometimes it’s hard to get where you want to go or get the result you want (and being a CPA, I know my way around the forms and where something should go), and the interview format is annoying at times. I’ve stuck with TurboTax because of husband’s lengthy fixed asset detail, which I didn’t want to input into a new program.

  22. BTW, that was the Home and Business version I was using, which is supposed to be especially geared towards Schedule C, so I think TurboTax fell short on their promises.

  23. @Christine: H&R Block will import last year’s data from TurboTax and vice-versa, so either will work for you.

  24. Tax Slayer. It’s always been $10-15 to file everything, and I like the interface.

  25. After using Vanguard’s discount on TurboTax online every year since 2005 for my own taxes and then TaxAct for my girlfriend’s simpler taxes the last few years, I finally broke down and decided to save $30 this year and use TaxAct.

    One of the main areas where I felt TurboTax had an advantage – handling the mess of tax stuff related to investing on prosper.com – finally is no longer relevant for my return this year. So I decided why not make the switch.

  26. TaxAct. Been using them for 5 years now. I’ve noticed some nice improvements this year, too. I like that I can bookmark a section to come back to it later. I’ve had no trouble inputting stock trades, HSA’s, moving expenses, all sorts of stuff. I did have a question last year on how to properly take advantage of the special rule regarding 401k to Roth IRA rollovers. I called and immediately got a response to my answer. Turns out I’d just overlooked something. I’m impressed. And, I can’t forget that the price is nice. 🙂

  27. More support for FreeFileFillableForms than I thought! I think I would really miss the state tax import. I don’t want to change the poll now, so I would list that as software alternative because IRS.gov says FFFF is not an official IRS product but is actually run by a private business.

  28. Free Fillable Forms here as well. With an accounting degree and fairly simple taxes, it’s the quickest, cheapest, and easiest.

    Now if we could just get the IRS to tweak those forms with some software and get rid of 3rd-party tax filing services completely.

  29. Green Lantern says

    I used Tax Act last year for the first time after using Tax Cut and Turbo Tax in the past. I’m pretty tax-savvy, but I found the program very frustrating. It was certainly the least expensive option, but the savings weren’t worth the headaches I experienced. This year I will be using Turbo Tax. If I had simpler tax returns, Tax Act would probably be fine for me, but with my small business and itemized deductions, I need a more user-friendly program.

  30. Turbo tax is free for me via vanguard. If you have enough money in your extended family, then you qualify. I qualified when I first signed up for vanguard 10ish years ago via my grandfather. I think you need 1 million. So thanks to somebody rich in my family, since I sure don’t have 1 million.

  31. H&R Block.

    It is free to use, state and federal, for New York residents who make less than $57,000 Federal Adjusted Gross Income.

    You have to go to the New York State Tax Website and use the link there. Otherwise, you would have to pay. Here’s a link http://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/efile/freefile_eligibility1.htm

    I’ve used it twice. Last year, it also brought up some deductions that no other software found – such as amortizing the deprecation of a PC I used for freelance work at home.

    Good stuff. Highly recommended, especially for NY residents.

  32. I used TurboTax because I used Quicken throughout the year. But I am not sure that I want to keep paying for software that essentially stops working after a few years with the intent that you pay for it again in order to revive the same user experience (being able to download bank transactions) that you paid for initially. In 2012 maybe I will go back to using H&R Block.

  33. I started with H&R Block back in the late 1990’s because of its lower price, and I’ve continued using it because it continues to be cheaper than Turbo Tax and since I’m familiar with the software. I also like the Deduction Pro feature for charitable contributions.

  34. H & R Block for me…started on Turbo tax…switched to the next year by mistake and stayed with the BLOCK ever since. You can import from one to the other no problem so it is not a hassle to switch.

  35. I can’t trust Turbo Tax. Each year I “do” my taxes on Turbo Tax and stop short of sending it. I take it to my accountant instead and have her crunch it all. She get us about the same and more alarmingly for our rental properties, unlike Turbo Tax, she’s got consistent numbers with depreciation. She also keeps a better tab on passive activity loss carryover. For some reason every year Turbo Tax just flat out gives me different numbers for depreciation. Seems like a simple equation but they always seem to screw it up and change it yearly when it should never change.

    Regardless, I’d rather a human is accountable for our taxes and will stand with me when we get audited. That’s worth $200 instead of the $75-100 Turbo Tax would cost us.

  36. Military people get free filing with Tax Slayer and like Brent said, the interface is very intuitive. You have the option of being asked questions or filling in the numbers yourself. By the way, this may be obvious to everyone but the best way to save your tax returns is to e-mail the pdf attachment to yourself. As long as you never delete the e-mail it’s preserved “in the cloud” forever, regardless of what happens to your computer.

  37. freefilefillableforms for me. Last year I used an accountant because I had moved states. She did a few nifty things with my moving costs, but I think I paid more for her time than she saved me by doing that. Other than that, my taxes aren’t very complicated, though I must say the IRS corrected me once because I had completely overlooked some new rule – resulting in my return increasing by $2k. Ahem.

  38. I’ve been using the downloaded version of TurboTax Deluxe for the last few years, and I’ve found it to be pretty good.

    One question I had for people is how comfortable they are using the online version, and if they see any risks with storing all that information on a company’s server somewhere.

  39. For the last two years, I’ve used Freefillableforms + CalFle. No pen or paper needed.

    I do a quick calculation in a spreadsheet from excel1040.com and then enter the necessary data points into the software and if it doesn’t match, I figure out if I forgot something…

  40. Earn Save Live says

    We have been using the same accountant for ten years. We moved overseas last year, and I am really thankful for his expertise in sorting out our taxes! We own several investment properties in the U.S., but as an expat, I would still need to file U.S. taxes annually even though I live in Australia. His fees are reasonable, and he has a quick turnaround. For me, it’s a worthwhile expense!

  41. I have an S-corp, a Sole Proprietorship and rental property. It got to be too much and therefor I use an accountant. That said, I basically “do” my taxes before I give it to him to try an save some money. It still costs me a few hundred though… I’ve wanted to do it myself, but each year I discover I would have missed something so I’m back again.

  42. Another vote for H&R Block formerly TaxCut. As others have stated began using them because they were always cheaper than Turbo Tax.

  43. I’ve been using TurboTax for several years. I personally find it very easy to use, but I’ll purchase whichever is cheapest and easy to use.

  44. I’ve used both Turbotax & H&R Block. Both are pretty simple. Pretty much a tossup for me between the two.

  45. It’s a little late for comments, but I thought I’d put my two cents in.

    I’ve been using Turbo Tax on and off for years since it was a DOS program. I tried TaxCut once about four years ago and it completely choked on my form K-1 partnership income, so I ran back to TurboTax and stuck with it. The past few years TurboTax Basic has been enough since it handles that dreaded K-1 which is currently the only complicated part of my taxes. I would probably step up to a higher version if I had many investments outside my retirement accounts.

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