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Tax Prep DIY
Old 01-06-2017, 10:07 PM   #1
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Tax Prep DIY

Any recommendations for the best tax prep software for a new DIYer? I've used a tax preparer in the past, but it's become very pricey and I was just being lazy. I have w-2 income, self-employment income and rental income. Thanks!
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:48 PM   #2
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First time, you should use Taxcut - the premium version , should be able to find it on sale for $30-$35.

I suggest premium because it will have all the interview info you need to walk you through everything, later years when you are used to it, you can drop down to deluxe to and directly fill out some forms without an interview help.

Others may suggest Turbo Tax, which works fine, but is always $20 or more, more expensive. Unless you are a big investor in fidelity and can get it as a freebie.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:55 PM   #3
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Thanks!
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Old 01-07-2017, 08:51 AM   #4
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There's 3 main players. Here's a good review on them:

Quote:
Taxes are never, ever fun. But with the right tax software in your hands, you’ll feel far less spent (and perhaps less nervous) come April 18th — that’s right, the 2017 filing deadline is April 18th, not the traditional date of the 15th. What hasn’t changed this year is our list of the best tax software companies: TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct.
Best Tax Software for 2017 - The Simple Dollar
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Old 01-07-2017, 09:17 AM   #5
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I used Turbotax for years until HR Block became cheaper and them switched to that. They were more or less equivalent and I like them both.
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Old 01-07-2017, 09:17 AM   #6
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Unless your tax situation is very complex, any of those mentioned will be fine. I've used TurboTax and continue to do so because I've always used it (back when it came on a floppy disk ) and I don't feel like changing. My caution is whether or not you should DIY. If your situation is stable - no major financial differences from the year before, then go for it. Verify that your tax isn't much different from your last years return and you should be fine. If you started or sold off a business, had new real estate transactions (new rental property) or are making decisions on how to handle a lump sum or deferred compensation, it would probably be best to continue to let someone else do your taxes. Generally though, it's best to do it yourself because no one knows you like you know you.
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Old 01-07-2017, 09:36 AM   #7
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I did start a rental this year and I have a K1 to deal with from enterprise partners. But I really want to do this myself because I know how valuable it is for understanding my finances now and especially as I FIRE. I did take the Jackson Hewitt tax prep course one fall and worked for them for a season. But this K1 us the most complicated darn thing I've ever seen. It scares me so much I actually thought about selling my shares just so I didn't have to deal with the tax paperwork. But then, a sale triggers tax issues too! So it seems best that I learn this stuff once and for all
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Old 01-07-2017, 10:35 AM   #8
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I would suggest Turbo Tax Home and Business. I have rentals and businesses and I find it very helpful.
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Old 01-07-2017, 10:53 AM   #9
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I have used all three that easysurfer mentioned (although my TurboTax days were many years ago) but now use the H&R Block software aka TaxCut which is very similar to TurboTax but costs significantly less. I'm old school and prefer a program that resides on my desktop so I haven't considered any of the online stuff. Any of the top three should handle your K1 with ease. Also, since you have years of returns by a tax preparer, they will serve as useful comparisons.

If you go with H&R Block, you would need at least their "Premuim" version to handle self-employment and rental income. If you need corporate returns, W2's etc, you'd need the "Premium and Business" version. One caveat with the latter: the "Business" part is an entirely separate program with a different GUI although it still has an "interview" process to follow.
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Old 01-07-2017, 10:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lstansbury View Post
I did start a rental this year and I have a K1 to deal with from enterprise partners. But I really want to do this myself because I know how valuable it is for understanding my finances now and especially as I FIRE. I did take the Jackson Hewitt tax prep course one fall and worked for them for a season. But this K1 us the most complicated darn thing I've ever seen. It scares me so much I actually thought about selling my shares just so I didn't have to deal with the tax paperwork. But then, a sale triggers tax issues too! So it seems best that I learn this stuff once and for all
TurboTax Premier is probably your best bet. Both Deluxe and Premier can handle the K1 (they will help you fill out form 1065), but Premier also handles rental properties and stock sales more easily than Deluxe. We use TTax Premier, and we've had this type of K1 in the past. We also have rental property, and I made a small amount of money on a 1099 in 2015. Premier has handled all of those situations just fine.

You don't need the TTax Home & Business version unless most of your income comes from self-employment, or you are running a small business and need to generate 1099s or W-2s for other people.

I'm sure H&R Block can also handle your situations, though I have no experience with it. I'm less sure about TaxAct.
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Old 01-07-2017, 11:18 AM   #11
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Another +1 for H&R TaxCut. Have used both Turbotax and TaxCut and find them pretty comparable. Have been looking for deals and saw the Federal/State version on a Daily Deal at Amazon for $21. Did not jump on it quick enough so will continue to keep my eyes open for another promotion.
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Old 01-07-2017, 11:33 AM   #12
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Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. This is very helpful
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Old 01-07-2017, 11:47 AM   #13
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Here's a review of popular tax software:

The Best Tax Software | The Wirecutter

Personally I've been a satisfied Taxact user for the past 3 years. May consider FreeTaxUSA in the future.
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Old 01-07-2017, 01:05 PM   #14
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Happy tax act user for six years.
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Old 01-07-2017, 03:22 PM   #15
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I still use TurboTax, more out of inertia than anything else. It works, I'm familiar with the UI, and since it's a once-a-year purchase I don't sweat the $20 price difference.
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:18 PM   #16
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I use TurboTax, but primarily because I can get a free copy. Otherwise, I shopped for the least expensive package that would do the job,used TaxCut for many years. Never pay extra to efile, I've no problem mailing.
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Old 01-07-2017, 06:26 PM   #17
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I use TaxAct because it's cheaper than TurboTax, although I did a proforma 2016 return in both a few months ago and TurboTax was slightly more user-friendly in their UI, IMHO.

But I'll still use TaxAct because I'm cheap!
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Old 01-07-2017, 06:31 PM   #18
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I use TaxAct because it's cheaper than TurboTax, although I did a proforma 2016 return in both a few months ago and TurboTax was slightly more user-friendly in their UI, IMHO.

But I'll still use TaxAct because I'm cheap!
Interesting. I used TT before TA and I don't recall it being more user-friendly. I actually find TA to be user friendly and very easy to understand. The price doesn't hurt, either.
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Old 01-07-2017, 06:33 PM   #19
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^ Maybe more "hand-hold"-y and reassuring and encouraging. If you know what you're doing, I think both are easy enough to use. And personally I would prefer something tending less towards interview questions and more towards Free Fillable Forms. But I've used TA for a few years now and inertia has me in her bitter grasp so I probably won't investigate alternatives.
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Old 01-07-2017, 07:55 PM   #20
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I use TT because I know it and it works. I don't care that it costs more and I even have to pay to efile state.

You want to know what's really expensive? CPA's when trusts are involved. We're talking thousands of dollars, all told me thinks about 5 grand.

I rejoice when I have to pay a whole hundred bucks to do my taxes and all I have to do is enter the info. Fill in the blanks. Easy, done.
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