23 March 2009

My Review of H & R Block’s TaxCut

For the past several years, I have been using TurboTax to prepare our taxes, but this year, due to a variety of reasons, I decided to use a different tax preparation software program and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Now, I know that TurboTax has a lot of the same features as TaxCut, which is why this is written for those of us who are looking for an alternative to TurboTax. The following is my impressions on H & R Block's TaxCut 2007 Premium + Federal + State + E-file Edition.

I have just finished installing and using TaxCut and I have to say that I was very pleased with the results. After the initial installation, the program will ask you if you would like to search for updates. I would highly recommend you take the extra time and do this. Depending on your internet connection, it can take anywhere from five to ten minutes (or longer), but it is well worth having an up-to-date tax return. Once the updates have been downloaded and installed, you can then begin preparing your return.

If you are keen to understand the new tax laws and how you might be affected, you will be happy to learn that the Welcome window gives you video tutorial links, so you can learn about the new laws. If you have used TurboTax last year, you have the option of importing the data directly into TaxCut. If information has changed since last year, you can easily edit the entry. If you have never filed before, or this is your first time using tax preparation software, you can always enter the information manually. You may also import data from financial software such as Quicken, Microsoft Money, or any other financial software that supports the Tax Exchange Format [TEF]. Once your initial personal information has been entered, you will be prompted to save the file. Enter the desired name of the file and save; after this initial save, TaxCut will automatically save your entries every few minutes.

If you are a homeowner, you have the option of filling-in your mortgage and tax information yourself, or you can use their Home Mortgage Assistant. This assistant walks you step-by-step through the data entry process. By using the information provided to you by your mortgage company, you can easily answer the questions the Assistant asks. This can be especially helpful if you are a first-time home buyer and are new to this section of the tax form.

As you navigate through the form, you will be constantly kept up-to-date on your estimated refund/amount owed. If you have a question on a particular tax or credit, you simply click the link located next to it and you will be given a detailed explanation. If you are qualified for a particular credit, yet are not given the full amount, TaxCut will display a screen stating the reason(s) you did not qualify for the full credit. Once you have completed the federal portion, TaxCut will perform an error check to make sure that your return is error-free. If any errors are found, it will take you to that section of the return and allow you to make any necessary changes. Once complete, you can then download and complete the State return. All financial information needed from the Federal return on your State return, is automatically entered for you. You then only need to answer the questions specific to your State.

If you elect to e-file your federal return, you will need to know that they require an electronic signature. In order to do this, you will need to have the PIN you used if you e-filed last year or you will need the amount of your gross earnings from your 2007 tax return.

Overall, I would have to say that I was very pleased with this software. I found the pages easy to navigate and the instructions and explanations very straightforward and easy to understand. I also found that the screen and pages were esthetically pleasing, which gives the software a "friendly" feel, which is a big plus when it comes to preparing tax returns. In all, I found TaxCut to be a very user-friendly program and I will gladly use this program next year and recommend it to my friends and family as a great option to TurboTax.

**We had a very basic return, so I was not able to review the other areas that the software covered. However, as just reminded by BeadedTail, not everyone has a very basic return. So, by being lazy and looking through the product description, I found that TaxCut does include Schedule C Support. It also provides extra deduction assistance for those who are self-employed, including home office, rental property and depreciation assistance.



5 comments:

  1. Very thorough information on this software! I have no knowledge of consumer tax products since we use a very complicated one at the office but this one does sound user friendly and provides explanations which is important. One thing I'd wonder is the ease of use and how helpful the software is in preparing returns with Schedule Cs, rentals, farms, oil royalties or K-1s? (Okay, did I just sound like a CPA there? Sorry!)

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  2. BeadedTail: Yup, you did, but a very good point. Since we had a very basic return, I did not have a chance to look into those areas. I did notice that they had questions with regards to rental income, stocks, bonds, etc. If I can wake up my brain, I'll add that to the article:)

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  3. I have used Tax Cut for the last 3 years. It easily lets me include business income and expenses. Great communication, and if you make a goof, you can fix it.

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  4. This is really interesting info!

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  5. Fisher: I was very impressed with the software. As I stated at the very end, we had a very basic return, so I was not able to review the other features. If you would like to write something about your experience, with regards to the business income and expenses, I would be very happy to publish it here, with your dofollow link, of course.

    S-H-Y: Thank you. I hope you found it helpful.

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