Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
tax software gripes
Old 02-05-2017, 07:07 PM   #1
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 3,441
tax software gripes

What quirks are in the tax prep software you use?

Turbotax nags for info that never appears on a printed return, for example, this year's new nag is for payer FEINs. I suppose the extra info is sent when efiling.

Turbotax does not allow the user to choose screen color or text font. The text size can be adjusted, but is limited to form viewing. In that regard Turbotax is stuck in the '80s.

Turbotax lets you input amount of interest that comes from US Obligations. Turbotax insists that you input dollar amounts, whereas places like VG instead send you a table of % values. It's about three extra lines of programming to permit users to enter the %, which would save them performing the calculation by hand. That's what they make computers for.
GrayHare is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 02-05-2017, 08:02 PM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Kerrville,Tx
Posts: 3,327
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrayHare View Post
What quirks are in the tax prep software you use?

Turbotax nags for info that never appears on a printed return, for example, this year's new nag is for payer FEINs. I suppose the extra info is sent when efiling.

Turbotax does not allow the user to choose screen color or text font. The text size can be adjusted, but is limited to form viewing. In that regard Turbotax is stuck in the '80s.

Turbotax lets you input amount of interest that comes from US Obligations. Turbotax insists that you input dollar amounts, whereas places like VG instead send you a table of % values. It's about three extra lines of programming to permit users to enter the %, which would save them performing the calculation by hand. That's what they make computers for.
Note that there is a calculator built into turbo tax for situations like #3 it is under the tools submenu.
meierlde is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2017, 08:17 PM   #3
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Beach and Mountain
Posts: 725
Wasn't easy but I switched to Forms view in TT and eventually found where to input: spousal HSA contribution and days property was rented vs personal use.

In inputting a W-2, I forgot to input the state wages. Went back later and found my mistake. Input the state wages. Did not change the state tax liability. So the data is not used?
Z3Dreamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2017, 08:17 PM   #4
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 4,031
I have no problems wth TurboTax. I find it very easy to use.
COcheesehead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2017, 12:10 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Sunset's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Spending the Kids Inheritance and living in Chicago
Posts: 12,020
Quote:
Originally Posted by meierlde View Post
Note that there is a calculator built into turbo tax for situations like #3 it is under the tools submenu.
Yes and all modern OS's include a calculator app as well, but I do see OP's point.
If I'm entering some income from X, they could provide a choice of boxes to enter the % or actual cash value.
Sunset is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 05:17 PM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 3,441
I'm seeing TT omit certain completed forms (such as 8960) from a printed return. It's likely it's omitting that form from efiles too. I don't know if it's a TT bug or intentional non-enforcement of ACA-related tax matters.
GrayHare is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 05:23 PM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Kerrville,Tx
Posts: 3,327
Note that if you use the forms mode you can only fill in what you need at TT does not regard leaving other info blank as an error. For example on the 1099int forms I leave the piece at the bottom with the payers address and tax id blank (just put the name of the payer at the top) and TT is happy, (after all the name of the payer is all that appears on Schedule B). This is of course one of the advantages of using purely the forms mode.
meierlde is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 05:44 PM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 10,252
My beef with tax software is that the companies that sell such software want you to be completely dependent on their software. They don't want you to understand your tax return. They want you to think that filing taxes is one of the most complicated things that you will never figure out. They don't want folks to read the instructions for the tax forms. They don't want folks to even know that tax forms exist.

The software perpetuates myths about taxes, too. How many people think that if they are in the 25% tax bracket that they pay 25% of all their income in taxes? How many people believe that all people who make $200,000 have to pay income taxes? How many people believe that the government gives them more tax breaks than the government gives to the wealthy?
LOL! is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 06:54 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
RunningBum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 11,367
Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
My beef with tax software is that the companies that sell such software want you to be completely dependent on their software. They don't want you to understand your tax return. They want you to think that filing taxes is one of the most complicated things that you will never figure out. They don't want folks to read the instructions for the tax forms. They don't want folks to even know that tax forms exist.
I'd be upset if tax software forced me to read and understand all the instructions. I'd wager that most people don't want to. You are free to read all the tax form instructions and double check all the calculations. You are not free to tell everyone else they have to do the same.

I still read some of the forms to check and understand what's going on. I think tax software actually helps me understand things more by being able to easily run "what if" scenarios.

I feel like it also keeps me from being discouraged from having complicated investments that would make tax filing difficult. Instead, I don't like tax complexity rule my investments, and I do what's best for me, and count on the tax software to help me through tax filing.
Quote:
The software perpetuates myths about taxes, too. How many people think that if they are in the 25% tax bracket that they pay 25% of all their income in taxes? How many people believe that all people who make $200,000 have to pay income taxes? How many people believe that the government gives them more tax breaks than the government gives to the wealthy?
I disagree even more strongly about this. The front page of my Turbo Tax report shows me the effective rate I paid. Many people who used to do taxes manually would just use a tax table and not do the math to realize they weren't paying the top rate on all income.

I think more people used to just give all their tax docs to a tax pro and let them prepare it. Doing it yourself with the software at least gives you some insight.
RunningBum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 07:22 PM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 10,252
I use tax software, but I see the limitations. It doesn't show you what's going on behind the scenes which the IRS instructions do. The "behind the scenes" helps one with tax planning for those that want to pay less taxes.

One doesn't have to read all the instructions every year because they don't really change. I think one should read them at least once or twice in their lifetimes.
LOL! is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 07:26 PM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
RobbieB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Central CA
Posts: 6,865
I'm good then, I used to paper and pencil from 1979 to 2000.
__________________
Retired at 59 in 2014. Should have done it sooner but I worried too much.
RobbieB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 07:35 PM   #12
Full time employment: Posting here.
Al in Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Columbus
Posts: 983
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrayHare View Post
What quirks are in the tax prep software you use?



Turbotax nags for info that never appears on a printed return, for example, this year's new nag is for payer FEINs. I suppose the extra info is sent when efiling.



Turbotax does not allow the user to choose screen color or text font. The text size can be adjusted, but is limited to form viewing. In that regard Turbotax is stuck in the '80s.



Turbotax lets you input amount of interest that comes from US Obligations. Turbotax insists that you input dollar amounts, whereas places like VG instead send you a table of % values. It's about three extra lines of programming to permit users to enter the %, which would save them performing the calculation by hand. That's what they make computers for.


TT asks for the FEIN because the program analyzes that number to see if it's on the list of company's that will automatically upload all the data from your W2. My company does that yet my spouses does not, so seconds after the FEIN for my company is entered ... poof, my entire w2 data is completed. Not even a forced download is required.
__________________
Ohio INTJ ENG ER as of 2016
Al in Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 07:42 PM   #13
Full time employment: Posting here.
Al in Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Columbus
Posts: 983
Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
My beef with tax software is that the companies that sell such software want you to be completely dependent on their software. They don't want you to understand your tax return. They want you to think that filing taxes is one of the most complicated things that you will never figure out. They don't want folks to read the instructions for the tax forms. They don't want folks to even know that tax forms exist.

The software perpetuates myths about taxes, too. How many people think that if they are in the 25% tax bracket that they pay 25% of all their income in taxes? How many people believe that all people who make $200,000 have to pay income taxes? How many people believe that the government gives them more tax breaks than the government gives to the wealthy?


I use TT and have since it first came out. I have learned a lot about taxes just by using it. And you have to be smart enough to review your output forms. Page 1 basically says you paid x effective percent federal taxes this year. I am in the 25% bracket, but my effective tax rate has never exceeded 12% in any given year and is often closer to 10%. How can you not read that summary page if you use TurboTax? Not sure how to miss it.
__________________
Ohio INTJ ENG ER as of 2016
Al in Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 07:50 PM   #14
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 10,252
How is the effective tax rate calculated by TT? Can you get the same number if you calculate it yourself?
LOL! is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 08:12 PM   #15
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z3Dreamer View Post
Wasn't easy but I switched to Forms view in TT and eventually found where to input: spousal HSA contribution and days property was rented vs personal use.

In inputting a W-2, I forgot to input the state wages. Went back later and found my mistake. Input the state wages. Did not change the state tax liability. So the data is not used?
The state wages often aren't used by the state because they start with the Federal AGI and make adjustments. Unless there is something unusual they may not need the state info off the W2.

However, once you get into multi-state returns, the state info can be needed to split income between the various state returns.
jebmke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 08:24 PM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
RunningBum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 11,367
Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
How is the effective tax rate calculated by TT? Can you get the same number if you calculate it yourself?
AGI/total tax
RunningBum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 08:34 PM   #17
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 410
I was really surprised that Turbotax tried to give me the higher education expense tax credits even though I had paid those expenses with DS's 529 plan-- never asked me anywhere if I had used a 529 to cover any of my stated expenses (which were documented on the proper IRS form from the University, which TT did ask for). I ended up going back and editing the info out by hand.

If I hadn't checked to confirm that no deduction is allowed, we would have received too high a refund and potentially ended up with an audit or something.

Not impressed. I've been doing my taxes by hand for years and thought about going back to that, but I was 80% of the way through the form at that point and figured I'd just keep going. Our 2017 return is probably going to be complicated enough to require professional help, but in 2018 and beyond I think I may just go back to doing it all by hand again.
lhamo is offline   Reply With Quote
tax software gripes
Old 02-28-2017, 08:47 PM   #18
Full time employment: Posting here.
Al in Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Columbus
Posts: 983
tax software gripes

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
How is the effective tax rate calculated by TT? Can you get the same number if you calculate it yourself?


It's federal tax dollars due divided by gross total income, including any tax exempt income.
__________________
Ohio INTJ ENG ER as of 2016
Al in Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 08:56 PM   #19
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 10,252
Quote:
Originally Posted by lhamo View Post
I was really surprised that Turbotax tried to give me the higher education expense tax credits even though I had paid those expenses with DS's 529 plan-- never asked me anywhere if I had used a 529 to cover any of my stated expenses (which were documented on the proper IRS form from the University, which TT did ask for). I ended up going back and editing the info out by hand.
I've read that it may be better to claim the credit and pay any taxes and penalties on the unqualified bit of the 529 withdrawal.

Did you tell TT that you got a 1099-Q?
LOL! is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2017, 08:57 PM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 10,252
Quote:
Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
AGI/total tax
Thanks, but I don't think that means it takes tax credits into account. Plus AGI is not my total income.
LOL! is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
tax


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
TaxAct Review/Gripes TromboneAl FIRE and Money 34 04-09-2016 10:34 PM
tax software to handle foreign tax credit correctly? figner FIRE and Money 6 05-01-2012 03:17 PM
My Experience with TAX ACT tax prep software samclem Other topics 23 04-19-2009 07:34 PM
Tax software and IRA questions bpp FIRE and Money 0 12-13-2006 05:48 PM
Almost free tax software, etc. cute fuzzy bunny Other topics 3 01-11-2005 09:07 AM

» Quick Links

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:24 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.