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Online tax prep sites - thoughts?
Old 12-16-2016, 08:55 AM   #1
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Online tax prep sites - thoughts?

I have used TaxAct download version for the past 8 years having switched from TurboTax. Ths year the price went up and it seems like i don't need all the bells and whistles so I started looking at online sites to do taxes that way.

Test driving the TaxAct online site I found some required forms I need to require the purchase of the next level above the free online version. I then researched some others online prep sites and it I did a test run on FreetaxUSA which looks like it will allow me all of the options I need for free on the fed return and run $12.95 for my state return.

Anybody else find online tax prep sites that works for them at a low cost?

Any previous users of FreetaxUSA?
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:15 AM   #2
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I've used FreeTaxUSA for years, they had (or maybe still have) free state filing for military, and I was never disappointed.
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:21 AM   #3
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Thanks, RetiredGypsy! No military service but $12.95 isn't an issue since TaxAct had been running about $20 previously including state!
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:22 AM   #4
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I've used TaxAct online for several years and it worked well. Tried Online Taxes (olt.com) last year since it was free for both feds and state and liked it but my taxes are fairly straight forward, I don't itemize deductions.
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:29 AM   #5
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Thanks zinger! - went to olt and it looks like state return filing is $9.99 - guess I could just mail that in.
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Old 12-16-2016, 03:29 PM   #6
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Thanks zinger! - went to olt and it looks like state return filing is $9.99 - guess I could just mail that in.
Last year (2015) OLT was free for state efile as long as your AGI was below a certain level, it's still early so not sure about 2016. My states (AZ) gov web site list which tax software vendors offer free state efile but there isn't anything posted for 2016 yet.
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Old 12-16-2016, 03:43 PM   #7
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Tried Online Taxes (olt.com) last year since it was free for both feds and state and liked it but my taxes are fairly straight forward, I don't itemize deductions.
Standard OLT (Free Federal, $9.99 state): https://www.olt.com/main/home/default.asp

Free Federal & State with $13k-$64k AGI: https://www.olt.com/main/oltfree/default.asp
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Old 12-16-2016, 05:03 PM   #8
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I'd rather have fully functional desktop software that the vendor pays me to use, so I don't have to pay for it and get paid money for using it.

So I use HRBlock with the 10% rebate on one's refund. It's like buying a short-term CD that has a yield of 10% which is more than enough to pay for the software and get some other things on Amazon.

I mean, if cost is a big deal to you, then why not have them pay you $100 to use their software?
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Online tax prep sites - thoughts?
Old 12-16-2016, 05:20 PM   #9
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Online tax prep sites - thoughts?

I've been using FreeTaxUSA for years and it's been just great for everything we need. We have W2, 1099 and recently the forms for ACA subsidy stuff. Haven't itemized for years so it's pretty simple.

I've also used it for my son who is self employed - Schedule C. But last year we ran into an issue with the ACA subsidy in combination with the self employed health insurance deduction and the circular calculation. So this year I'm going to try it in FreeTaxUSA and if they haven't updated that he may have to buy tax software. Last year we realized it made very little difference in his income range but this year he's earned about 50% more (gross) and I'm thinking that calculation could be meaningful.

So if you know a tax package that handles the self employed health insurance deduction along with the ACA subsidy, post about it, please.


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Old 12-17-2016, 06:03 AM   #10
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I have been using taxhawk for a few years. covers about any scenario you can think of. it has free federal, but state cost 12.95. I usually print and mail the state so it doesn't cost anything. works well for me.
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Old 12-17-2016, 09:15 AM   #11
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Old 12-17-2016, 10:59 AM   #12
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So if you know a tax package that handles the self employed health insurance deduction along with the ACA subsidy, post about it, please.
Hi Sue J!

I've used TaxAct over the past few years and have liked it.

It seems to do what you're asking for well according to this: https://thefinancebuff.com/tax-softw...ax-credit.html

Also, it is free for both federal and state if you meet certain conditions. Check out http://www.irs.gov/freefile in January.
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Old 12-17-2016, 12:31 PM   #13
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So for those using an online service, not a downloaded program, do you do your taxes in stages or all at once?

I tend to load things as they come in - will the online service allow that?

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Old 12-17-2016, 12:38 PM   #14
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Gotadimple, Yes the online sites allow you to do a piecemeal input as you go. I put in the estimated numbers for the first go round and then edit as needed when I have my final numbers.
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Old 12-19-2016, 04:06 PM   #15
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I thought I'd try an online site to do some pro forma work in advance of deciding my end of year Roth conversion amount. I chose OLT based on the above comments along with the fact that my state's revenue department has approved them (as well as several others) as an online filer.

Setting up an account required providing the obvious email address which was then verified by a code. I was OK with that. But as I moved into the Fed 1040 return I discovered that I was forced to provide all the personal info upfront, such as phone#, address, SSN, etc. before I could proceed. Tabs for income, adjustments, withholding, etc. were prominently displayed but non-functional. I suspect it's one of those things where one has to work through the return sequentially. What I was hoping is that I could experiment with inputs/results and not have to provide all the personal info, especially SSN, up to the point of filing which I don't plan to do using OLT. (I planned to pay for the state return in advance of doing likewise.)

Perhaps, once the personal data is entered, one can work through the various tabs at random. But never having used online tax forms before, I'm not confident in that. (Up through 2014, I'd used the online TaxAct to do my pro forma returns, albeit without state.) I guess at this point I'm a bit hesitant to pull the trigger, feeling like I'd rather eat the cost of buying the fed/state upfront where I can install it on my machine and play to my heart's content. I would certainly hope that TT or H&R Block's state download wouldn't require such info in order to function.

Can anyone say if that's the case?
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Old 12-19-2016, 04:35 PM   #16
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. What I was hoping is that I could experiment with inputs/results and not have to provide all the personal info, especially SSN, up to the point of filing

... feeling like I'd rather eat the cost of buying the fed/state upfront where I can install it on my machine and play to my heart's content. I would certainly hope that TT or H&R Block's state download wouldn't require such info in order to function.

Can anyone say if that's the case?
Bogleheads.org has been beside itself with announcing the deals on download version of HRBlock tax sofware.

It is the case that one can use that downloaded version without giving true personal info and SSN or even registering the software. However, if you download, they will know your e-mail address.
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Old 12-19-2016, 04:48 PM   #17
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Bogleheads.org has been beside itself with announcing the deals on download version of HRBlock tax sofware.

It is the case that one can use that downloaded version without giving true personal info and SSN or even registering the software. However, if you download, they will know your e-mail address.
Thanks. I can live with that.
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Old 12-19-2016, 04:52 PM   #18
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You can always use a bogus ss # and other pertinent personal info for testing periods.
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Old 12-20-2016, 12:01 AM   #19
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You can always use a bogus ss # and other pertinent personal info for testing periods.
Exactly, it only takes a few tries to create a fake SS number. (they have rules so they can tell which are real vs fake).

Or just use last years software, it's normally close enough for most folks to know, since often they don't have exact figures. I just copy the file from last year, with a name like fake1 and open that and change the numbers that are already there.
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