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Tax time? Almost. No, I haven’t filed yet, but I have started working on our returns. As usual, I’m using Intuit’s Turbo Tax. Intuit is not my favorite software company. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I use Quicken, but my home bookkeeping needs are simple. Quicken is old, but it does what I want it to do, and the Mac version is on par with the Windows version. QuickBooks Pro is another matter.  The current Mac version is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I’d rather run Windows for just that one program.

So, back to Turbo Tax. There were a couple of years (way back when) that I used something else because of major problems, but the last few years it has been rock solid. I stay with the downloadable version. You can use their online software to prepare your returns, but I’m a bit paranoid about trusting all of my data to their servers. There’s not a system around that is totally secure (look at Target, Michael’s, etc), but some servers are more tempting to the hacker population. I try to limit my exposure.

As usual, any time you launch Turbo Tax, there will be updates. I have never seen a program that updates as frequently, but at least they seem to be on top of changes and bug fixes. Turbo Tax will walk you through the entire program to ensure that you remember all of those taxable and deductible items. On the other hand, if you know what needs to be entered, you can go through and enter the figures on your own. I’ve done it for so many years, I’m in the latter category.

If you decide to do your own taxes (and this does make it easy), look for best bargain on the software. It’s available in the App Store, but you can find better deals if you do a bit of looking. Target and OfficeMax will generally have sale prices on it, as does Amazon. Amazon has added an extra incentive this year. Put all or part of your federal refund on an Amazon gift card and they will increase the amount by 10%.

It’s not too early to start thinking about your taxes. Refund coming? E-filing will get it to you faster. And if you don’t do it yourself, take pity on your accountant and at least organize that shoebox of receipts you expect him to use when figuring your tax liability. The more organized you are, the less it will cost you in the end.

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  • stevenjklein

    I’ve used both Turbotax (née MacinTax) and H&R Block Tax Software (née TaxCut, née “At Home”). I’ve settled on H&R Block because they include a few extras (like free tax advice from tax experts, and free in-person representation in case of an audit).

    I bought the Deluxe version from Amazon for $30. They include free electronic filing for up to 5 federal returns, but they charge $20 for each electronic state filing. So I’ll file my federal electronically, then print out and mail in my state return.