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Taxes: Do you use Q&A or fill in forms?
Old 04-04-2014, 10:52 AM   #1
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Taxes: Do you use Q&A or fill in forms?

For those of you using tax prep software, such as TaxAct, do you go though the Q&A or do you fill in the information based on prior years?

It seems like a bother to have answer a lot of irrelevant questions ("Did you receive any income from a blind, foreign railroad employee?"), yet...
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:00 AM   #2
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Well, it seems that there's no way to go directly to the forms using TaxAct online, unless I'm missing something.
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:15 AM   #3
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Check out free file fillable forms via the irs.gov site. Used it the last two years and prefer it to the question and answer method.
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:28 AM   #4
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It's a mixed bag I think - but it is shorter if you go to the Q&A for each topic, and then go in to the 'quick entry'. But then I'm afraid I'll miss something.

I'm getting frustrated with the Tax software. Too much is hidden, I want to understand what affects the results. For example, with TaxAct, I get a report comparing last year and this year. So there is an entry for 'taxes paid', and there was a significant delta from last year. OK, so where do those numbers come from? It was a LOT of work to go backwards and find them.

And then, when you hit the 'print for your records' it only prints the basic forms, not some of the supporting docs that I want to see. And it was a pain to track those down and print one-by-one.

If I did it manually, I would know where the numbers come from. Maybe I'll try this next year - I just want pdfs, auto-calcs (like a spreadsheet) to avoid arithmetic errors and tedious number of calculations (multiply by .2, add to L13, subtract L13 from form xyz line 217b....).


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Old 04-04-2014, 11:45 AM   #5
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I use TurboTax and usually start with the Q&A to avoid missing something. They don't force you to go through the whole thing--if you want, you can see the topics and only do the ones you think apply to you. While doing the Q&A you can toggle to "see forms" and watch where the info is going, and can dig deeper by clicking on a field in the forms and see where that info came from (if it was carried from somewhere else). It helps me do the "forensics" on how various changes I could make in my finances would impact my taxes due.

I peeked in at TaxAct again this year, but it was just a bit too bare bones for me--the instructions on the part I was filling out were little more than a reprint of the IRS instructions. I think TurboTax and Kiplinger's "product formerly known as TaxCut" do a little bit more explaining/providing examples.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:04 PM   #6
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I use the forms method almost exclusively. Turbotax essentially has forms that minic the 1099s w-2 etc you receive just enter the data as it appears and it all gets distributed to where it should go.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:14 PM   #7
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I try to run through the Q&A just to make sure I hit everything. I go to forms to check things over. Even with Q&A, a lot of the entry work is essentially fill out tables of dividends or stock sales or deductions, not far off the forms themselves.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:17 PM   #8
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I start out Q&A. But during the course of the process, I never go through not having to switch to form mode. Data is just easier to proofread in form mode.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:25 PM   #9
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I like being asked the questions so that is my approach.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:29 PM   #10
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I use TurboTax and always start with the Q&A, but I modify forms as needed later, always very few if any mods needed. There are some unnecessary questions in the interview format, but I've found the TT Q&A structure well thought out to minimize unnecessary Q's. Unless your tax situation doesn't change at all from year to year, you could miss a form by going that round. And tax laws do change from year to year. So there can be pitfalls with either approach.
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Old 04-04-2014, 03:26 PM   #11
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I like being asked questions so that is my approach.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:31 PM   #12
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I agree with ERD50 that the tax software is getting harder to navigate manually than it was several years ago. I use TT and use a hybrid approach - I use the Q&A but pick the topics from the list manually rather than going through all of them. I do go in and look at some of the forms as well just to make sure things show up where I think they will.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:43 PM   #13
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Benefits of being poor and simple... Tax Act in 8 minutes flat.
Filled in everything except the few numbers from 1099's... Fed and State.
Never pay taxes again.

Didn't plan it that way, it just worked out.
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Old 04-04-2014, 06:14 PM   #14
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I do the Q&A with TT. It doesn't make me go through the entire Q&A. I also look at the forms, but have not had to override anything. Nevertheless, if I see the number on the form I know how to provide a better A for the Q in a couple of cases.

But I can see where folks can get all weird about this. I have a lot of experience from the 70's 80's and 90's doing things by hand and reading all the IRS publications and instructions. I imagine that some folks don't even know that IRS publications and instructions and paper forms even exist because they are all too young and think everything can be done with a smart phone.
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Old 04-04-2014, 06:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Well, it seems that there's no way to go directly to the forms using TaxAct online, unless I'm missing something.
When online go to the link that says "jump to forms and topics". It will open a page with the forms available. Then use the quick entry method and the form should appear. All of the forms do not have this option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu
Benefits of being poor and simple... Tax Act in 8 minutes flat.
Filled in everything except the few numbers from 1099's... Fed and State.
Never pay taxes again.
Most probably have returns that could be completed that way. It's sad to see people in walmart paying $40 to file a 1040ez.
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I use TurboTax and usually start with the Q&A to avoid missing something. They don't force you to go through the whole thing--if you want, you can see the topics and only do the ones you think apply to you. While doing the Q&A you can toggle to "see forms" and watch where the info is going, and can dig deeper by clicking on a field in the forms and see where that info came from (if it was carried from somewhere else). It helps me do the "forensics" on how various changes I could make in my finances would impact my taxes due.

I peeked in at TaxAct again this year, but it was just a bit too bare bones for me--the instructions on the part I was filling out were little more than a reprint of the IRS instructions. I think TurboTax and Kiplinger's "product formerly known as TaxCut" do a little bit more explaining/providing examples.
+ 1, a hybrid approach.

The initial info is provided/downloaded through the "easy step" - DH does most of this.

But at the end I drill down and review every darn form to make sure everything squares and flows through correctly. This time something didn't get set right with applying this year's refund to next years taxes so I tweaked it manually. Not sure where that got messed up.
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:38 PM   #17
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This year Turbo Tax... Last few years H&R Block and a few years back TaxAct....


I did Q&A for all of them just to make me go through the thought process... yes, it can be a be tedious at times.... but I usually run across a question that makes me think "Why are they asking this?"..... and I will look up why...


I then go to the forms and take a gander at the results to make sure it looks like I was expecting it to look...


I will say that I was disappointed that Turbo Tax did not bring in all of my numbers from last year so the program could compare the two years.... I had to look at the printouts side by side...
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:41 AM   #18
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My turbo tax did the two-year comparison, so I wonder why yours didn't.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:37 AM   #19
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My turbo tax did the two-year comparison, so I wonder why yours didn't.

Did you use H&R block last year
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Old 04-05-2014, 09:05 AM   #20
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