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I am not new to tax preparation on a computer. I first started preparing my taxes back in the early nineties with a product named WinTax developed by a couple of guys in Edmonton. After a couple of acquisitions WinTax became QuickTax in the mid-nineties and finally finally became TurboTax in 2010 as Intuit adopted the name it has used for the US version of tax preparation software for years. Back in the day WINTAX wasn’t much more than a tax form that did the math for you. Today that is still one of the greatest selling points of TurboTax but it has grown into much more than a fancy Calculator.
TurboTax is now a combination of that original glorified calculator as well as a tax accountant and a lawyer and don’t forget Netfile. It is designed to make the preparation and filing of your error free 2013 tax return a simple and painless process.
So, everything is familiar as I open TurboTax to start preparing my 2013 taxes. For the second year I am using the web version since I have become a Mac user and the boxed version is only available for Windows. Getting started was easy and importing my 2012 data was quick and simple.
I have become comfortable with the interview format, it brings discipline to my data entry. With the boxed version I used to bypass the interview and go directly to the forms which meant I sometimes forgot something and had to backtrack. In fact, I find the interview leads me through a more logical way to prepare my tax returns than the somewhat haphazard manner to which I had become accustomed.
Using the interview doesn’t preclude going directly to a particular form. For example, if I came to a slip that I didn’t immediately have at hand I could skip forward knowing I could quickly come back to it later. Before I knew it my returns, my wife’s and mine were done and ready to Netfile with full confidence that TurboTax’s tools made sure I had considered all my possible deductions and that the math was correct.
Intuit has a variety of versions of its personal tax software suitable for every tax situation. There are three options each for TurboTax online for Windows and Mac users
And a similar three options for the boxed version:
It is worth noting that the Standard version can handle investments and business income and expenses. So, if you know your way around a complex tax return, you don’t need to upgrade. However, you won’t get any wizards or optimizers for investment/rental/business income and deductions when you use the Standard version. I don’t feel comfortable doing it without help so I find it worthwhile to upgrade to the Home and Business version.
Now, if you have a really simple tax return own an iPhone or iPad and are an individual under 65 living in AB, BC, MB, NB, NL, NS, ON, PE, SK you can use SnapTax for free. I have never seen tax preparation this simple.
As far as I am concerned TurboTax is the way to go. Sure there is the matter of over 2 decades of familiarity but, I have tried other less expensive products and always come back to TurboTax. I have used it every year for at least 20 years and it has never let me down. I have rarely needed it but when I did, customer support for both technical and tax questions has been quick, polite and reliable. Sure it cost a bit more than some of the others but in my experience you get what you pay for.
You can start your returns for free at the online store and pay online when you are ready to file. The boxed version is available from the same online store or most places software is old. If you live in Canada I have five coupons each valid for an online version of your choice. For your chance to win one enter below: