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Back in January I gave a preliminary report on Turbo Tax Deluxe and promised a follow-up. Well, over the weekend I finally stopped procrastinating and decided to finish working on our tax returns. The verdict? The best version I’ve worked with in a long, long time.

The first step was to apply the available software updates. If you’ve used tax software before, you know that this can be a painful time-waster. It always seems like they update each and every form and schedule, and one at a time, if you please. This time it was a simple, fast update of the app and all of it’s nested files — all at once.

On to the actual return. I admit to being a bit of a control freak. Okay, truth, a major control freak. While TurboTax will download a lot of data for you (W-2s, 1099s, etc.) I prefer to enter my own figures. I had all of our forms, plus data accumulated from Quicken and my husband’s business files, so entry was fast. I didn’t time myself, but everything from update download to e-filing both Federal and State returns took not much over an hour, and that includes a Schedule C for my husband’s business. At each step, there were links to explanations and examples of each income and deduction type. Even though I’ve done this for decades, there were a couple that I double checked, and the explanations were simple and concise.

The Federal e-file cost was included in the price of the software, but the State return was an extra $20. You can have the cost deducted from any Federal refund you may have coming, but it will cost you an extra $30. Of course, you can save the entire thing and print and mail your State return for the cost of paper and postage, but if you have a refund coming, you’ll get it faster if you e-file. I like the security of knowing that, if you e-file, the return can’t be lost or misplaced by a clerk resulting in late penalties.

All in all, this year’s experience with TurboTax was probably the best yet. There were a few years when I used their main competition because it was unusable, and still more years when I didn’t but cursed Intuit at nearly every step. I don’t know if they are finally taking the Mac platform seriously or they’ve just been hiring better programmers, but the last few years have seen steady improvement.

If you haven’t done your taxes yet, check out TurboTax. The prices seem to vary from day to day, store to store, so do your homework before you buy. The download from Amazon still seems to be the best price, although it’s higher today than when I bought it.

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