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Software (April 2008)

Taxes, Again
by John R. Quain
If you are reading this, you're too close to the deadline

If you still haven't done your taxes (and we know who we are) you don't have time to read this article. So click on the video, left.

If you can't play the CBS report, here's the quick rundown:Those earning $54,000 or less can file their federal returns for free online at IRS.gov. As a come-on, the IRS is claiming that those who file electronically will receive their rebate checks sooner. While servers will doubtless start to become overwhelmed as the April 15 deadline approaches, there are three software packages/online filing services we typically find to be the most reliable: TaxAct, TaxCut, and TurboTax.

TaxAct is the least expensive at about $17 to file both federal and state forms. However, it's a bit slow (one question per page) and it won't find deductions for you. However, for EZ filers, TaxAct is a good choice.

TaxCut, about $45 for both forms, is from the folks at H&R Block. It has steadily improved each year, and this season it has even more relevant advice, such as pointing out how certain deductions get phased out according to income. However, TaxCut doesn't have all the data importing abilities of TurboTax.

TurboTax, starting at about $50, is from the makers of Quicken. In terms of completeness, this is the market leader. TurboTax makes it easy to import W-2s and 1099s directly from many employers and financial institutions. There's also a new audit risk meter (hey, doing your taxes can be like playing a game—not!).

But do-it-yourselfers shouldn't get too sanguine. The closer you get to the deadline, the tougher it will be to get support calls through. So get to it.

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