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April 12, 2007

Top 10 Reasons I Can't Live Without TurboTax

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 4/12/2007 08:13:00 AM
It's almost tax day April 15th and for the past few days, I've been doing my taxes. Yes. I do my own taxes. It's tortuous and painful but I do it ... with the help of TurboTax brought to me every year by the friendly folks at Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq INTU). I've always done my taxes and TurboTax has been my best friend and my worst enemy from the start. TurboTax, I can't live with you but I can't live without you!

Like any long term relationship, I have my gripes about TurboTax, but here are 10 reasons I can't live without TurboTax.

10 Reasons I Can't Live Without TurboTax

1) I love the fact that the forms are quick and easy to fill out. It's unbelievable how easy it is to use Turbo Tax. It's completely idiot proof and it saves all the data every step of the way. I have never lost any data while entering information into TurboTax.

2) I can't live without the fact that TurboTax can import my stock transactions seamlessly from Fidelity. The guys who wrote the Fidelity data import module desire a big raise. Every year, I spend hours entering my buy and sell transactions into TurboTax for brokers that are still living in the stone age and haven't implemented OFX and EDI. You know what I mean if you've ever had to fill out Form 1040 Schedule D. The Fidelity import feature is a huge blessing. Not only does TurboTax import stock sales, it also imports the buys and calculates the cost basis automatically.

3) I can't live without how TurboTax asks for all the little things that I can list as being tax deductible expenses. Did I know that I could capitalize my laptop, my cell phone, even get a tax credit for my phone bill? No way. Did TurboTax know? Hell yeah! I got a refund for having landline! I had a hunch that POTS (plain old telephone service) line was good for something!

4) I can't live without how TurboxTax keeps and prefills my tax forms with all my information from my previous tax returns. Tax loss carryovers? Tax loss carry forwards? Accumulated long term cap gains losses? Short term losses? I don't know how you do it TurboTax, but I love that you do it.

5) I can't live without how TurboTax calculates the depreciation on my house. Every year, it takes less than no time for me to figure out the interest expensive, depreciation, improvements and all the nitty gritty costs taht I can deduct for owning a house. Do I care about straight line or accelerated MACRS depreciation formulas? Do I have to? Not with TurboTax

As with any great product, I have my gripes about TurboTax. There are quite a few things I can't stand about TurboTax.

6) I can't stand how slow TurboTax is! If you've used TurboTax in the past week or two, you know how slow it's been over the past couple of days. After filling out the forms and clicking "Next," I could literally go and surf 5 other websites before the data would be saved and TurboTax actually takes me to the next screen. I don't understand why it takes so long to "Save Data." Buy some more servers for goodness sakes. I must have spent 5 hours waiting for the "Saving Data" screen to complete.

7) I can't stand the fact that TurboTax can't import my purchase transactions from Charles Schwab. Anyone who does any investing knows how much a pain in the ass it is to fill out Form 1040 Schedule D . Every year, I dread having to fill out Schedule D because it takes hours to enter every single buy and sell into TurboTax because it can't get the import right. TurboTax has no problem importing the sales transactions, but it just can't import the stock buys. And what good is that if I have to pour through every single stock transaction to figure out my cost basis? To be fair, this could be Charles Schwab's fault as much as TurboTaxes. One of them is not keeping the data. I literally spent 20 hours doing this Schedule D this year. It was horrendous! TurboTax team, I hope you will get it right for the tax year 2007!

8) I can't stand how I can't file amended returns aka Form 1040X electronically using TurboTax. It's incredible how much time it takes to actually print, sign, and mail a tax return and I thought I was over all that until I found out that I needed to file an amended 1040x this year. It wasn't hard to do. In fact, TurboTax made it easy to made the amendments. It actually took 10 times longer to print and mail it!

9) I can't stand how TurboTax doesn't tell you how you have to pay separately for your state returns after you have filled out and completed your federal return. I get sticker shock every year when I find out how much I have to pay for TurboTax because every year they have raised prices. It's annoying enough to have to pay to file your taxes. It's even more annoying when you realize that the advertised price on their websites includes only the federal 1040 return and not the state return which costs another $34.95 or so. That pretty much doubles the costs!

10) I can't stand how they've made it harder to navigate the entire TurboTax application. After I filled out my tax return, it took me forever to navigate and check everything. TurboTax used to have a feature to list all the forms easily - in full screen mode. But this year, they somehow decided to use these tiny float over boxes where they jam the entire list of forms into this floating box. I hope they fix this!

And there, those are the top 10 reasons I can't live without TurboTax. Happy April 15th 17th! I hope my list can be half as long next year!

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Blogger TurboTaxChristine said...

Hi Mr. Wave Theory,

I was excited to see your blog posting today. Like many TurboTax customers, I'm interested to see you have some constructive feedback to share as well as praise.

I'd like to invite you to join a group I manage called the TurboTax Inner Circle. As a member of this group, you'll be able to contribute your ideas and opinions about TurboTax products and services. In fact, we have a live session right now focused on how we can improve the Investments area of TurboTax. I hope you'll consider joining and help us shape future versions of TurboTax.

Christine Morrison
Manager, TurboTax Inner Circle

10:07 AM  
Blogger amanda said...

It is unbelievable that after two years some brokers still live in the stone age (as you noted) by not supporting direct trade data download into TurboTax or TaxCut. Fortunately, I found some very useful file conversion utility tools at http://www.txf-express.com to get my thousands of Schwab stock trades into TurboTax. Check out their service if you want to save time and money.

9:04 PM  

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