I stopped using TurboTax some years ago and switched to TaxAct as a less bad alternative. I didn’t believe them to be necessarily tons better than giving money to TurboTax, but I figured at least it wouldn’t just keep solidifying a market leader who was capturing a significant market based mostly around actively lobbying to keep it that way.
In the last two years I took a leap to CreditKarma’s tax offering. It is a bit basic and not quite as endlessly full featured, but it is simple, efficient, pretty quick and quite fast. It’s also entirely free. The first year I used it I ran my numbers in a competing product to check, I was self employed at the time, which meant my tax situation wasn’t exactly easy that year.
Anyway, the numbers lined up perfectly. So I used CreditKarma to file and have been happy with it ever since. Honestly at this point I’d pay for it, just to give them a more solid business model and development budget, but as far as I know they don’t even have a paid option!
I filed in February this year. It was easy.
I actively avoid Intuit products now.
(Though, pragmatism wins here to some degree: I did use their self-employment accounting tool for a few years even when I had switched away from their tax software. That tool makes it annoyingly easy to keep accurate books and Xero just wasn’t as good and simple at what I was looking for. If I was doing it again today, I’d definitely again look for alternatives. And frankly I think I’d find them now.)
I had an awful experience with TurboTax just a few days ago, and will probably never use it again. In the very beginning, it asked me to click on some some things to get a "life picture" and seemed the Free version was fine. Then I get halfway into it, and it says it can't continue unless I use Premium. When I was almost done it asked to charge extra for "audit protection" and I had a wave of anxiety sweep over me, and almost purchased that too.
It has been brought up a few times here: companies like H&R Block have lobbied to keep things complicated.
Unless I have some special deductions to take care of, the government should just send me something like "we have received forms x,y,z from a,b,c. This is your AGI, what we/you owe. does this look correct?"
This might not apply to many who frequent HN, but not enough people know about Free File options.
If your adjusted gross income is less than $66,000 you can likely file your federal and potentially state taxes for free.
If you make more than $66,00 AGI, the IRS provides fillable forms that are pretty easy to use for your federal but might not be applicable in all circumstances.
America, one of the few developed nations where doing your taxes involves paying a third party to help you tell the government what it already knows.
TurboTax and HR block lobby considerably to prevent the government from making the process of paying taxes free, fast, and painless for the overwhelming majority of taxpayers.
If one has a simple tax situation, I'd recommend looking at Credit Karma (US) or SimpleTax (Canada).
Unfortunately, I've found TurboTax is better with weird corner cases. It helped me figure out I was eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (US citizen going to university in Canada) which alone was a few thousand dollars that I would have missed if I had filed a 1040-EZ on paper. It has handled 401k->roth rollovers and cost basis, reporting capital gains (when I divested from Bitcoin), paying taxes on Canadian RRSP capital gains, and sales of Restricted Stock Units. I'll probably pay to use it for the foreseeable future.
In Canada, the tax system is less arcane, so the tax software companies have to give it to university students for free to get them hooked. It's too bad that even if I move to another country, I'll have to file US tax returns for life.
It's not that hard to do your taxes on your own, especially if you have last year's as a model to check yourself. For computationally-oriented folks, I imagine you probably want to have a mental model of how you're presenting yourself tax-wise (instead of just blindly trusting Turbo Tax). In that case, most of what you're getting with Turbo Tax is UI.
I'm almost afraid to ask:
What's the FLOSS analog to Turbotax?
Just to be clear-- I'm talking about a wizard that asks laypeople a clear set of curated questions and ends up with a set of tax forms that are very likely filled in with the correct answers.
I tried https://www.freetaxusa.com this year since I dislike Intuit so much for their lobbying. The site works very well and has a pretty similar flow to TurboTax except no auto import of financial account info.
I do hate that they lobby for keeping taxes hard to file, but I have no issue paying them $60 to do my taxes. The website is such a great user experience, and they earned that money in my estimation. Why should it be free? They clearly put a lot of work into their site.
My only other issue with them is that they keep emailing me telling me to get started with my filing, but I already completed my tax return weeks ago.
I was with this article until the last paragraph, "Millennials rightly demand more from their products and services than any generation before, and are increasingly skeptical toward disingenuous brands like Walmart and McDonalds. They abhor deceit and trickery, and increasingly gravitate toward brands that align with their values."
Really? Only millenials (whatever that means) are characterized by these values? How do you figure? My experience has been exactly the opposite, actually. But Brandon Read appears to believe that purely because of my "generation", I gravitate toward deceit and trickery. Okay, thanks for that valuable insight, Brandon. Whatever.
In Canada, I've switched over to https://simpletax.ca. It's free, (supported by donations), and works well even for more complicated filings.
QuickBooks Self Employed is actually a really nice product that I use for my consulting and SaaS companies. I linked my business checking accounts and credit cards with it and can easily tag all transactions (income and schedule C). It also handles estimating quarterly taxes and allow me to make quarterly payments online via eftps.gov. Finally at the end of the year it exports everything right into TurboTax.
eh. mediocre only because he sets the stage early as TT being able to do this devilish stuff because they’ve studied user behavior for a decade or decades and know you. making TT out to be some devil that knows you personally.
honestly it’s standard predatory sales technique that many many companies use, including amazon. (like pretending that prime day prices are actually a bargain)
I am baffled why anyone would ever use TurboTax. It's full of these dark UI patterns and tricks and comparable products exist for a very small fraction of the price. Out of curiosity I looked up what TurboTax would have costed me and they wanted $100 (I have business income) whereas I used TaxHawk for $14.
I'm selfishly happy that tax year 2017 is the last year I'll probably be filing a personal US tax return (at least a substantial one) for a long time. Maybe in 2036 they will have solved this.
I bought the turbo tax CD which claimed to come with phone support from CPAs. The CD worked fine for the most part but the phone support was basically a scam.
I don't believe you need to read any of their clever commentary to use the service. You can ascertain the purpose of each screen by looking at the available options and click through ignoring all suggestions to pay them more.