Income Taxes: Turbo Tax - H&R Block - File Your Own?

oosik

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We have always had a private tax consultant do our taxes. Peace of mind is a very nice place to be ..........
 

GeneV

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I just finished both my s-corp and personal taxes via Turbotax programs, easy peasy lemon squeezy.
 

goeduck

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We have always had a private tax consultant do our taxes. Peace of mind is a very nice place to be ..........
The H&R and Turbo programs tell you if you have errors, audit type ratios/numbers, etc. They are pretty good for most people that do not have complicated taxes.
 

Massey convert

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I've always done my own taxes. The hardest part is gathering all the information, which you have to do, even when someone else is paid to put it on the forms.
If you goof, and I have, the IRS will find it and let you know.
One year the county where my daughter was attending college was declared a disaster area, and you could double the deduction, I did. The IRS said I had made a mistake, and only allowed the normal deduction. I called them, they told me to file an amended return, I told them that 1040X was when I made a mistake, I explained that they made the mistake. Eventually I was able to talk to someone who agreed with me, and they sent me another check to make it right.
 

tradosaurus

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Gov't: You owes us taxes and its your responsibility to figure out how to pay us. Oh, and if you make a mistake we will fine or jail you, or both. Good luck
 

Massey convert

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I have heard of horror stories about the IRS.
Over the forty-plus years I've been filing, I have made mistakes in math, which they corrected and adjusted my refund accordingly. Once I neglected to file a 1099 to show distribution of funds, I got a nasty letter with a court date for that one. I called them and explained what led to my failure to file the correct form and was instructed how to correct the mistake. I followed the instruction and received a letter letting me know all was square between us. There is a number to call for help, I have run into people on the other end of the line, who couldn't help, but have always been able to find the answers to my questions from someone there.
A neighbor told me the story of the time he had been audited. He offered the agent coffee, asked him if he would like milk with it, when the agent poured the milk from the pitcher, he asked the guy how much milk they drank a week. The guy had given him raw milk from the bulk tank, and the agent figured how much milk they weren't selling and added that to the income. It sounds like an urban legend, but I believe it really happened.
Thanks for the wish for good luck!
 

fishdrivel

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Well I'm on the fence to continue paying our tax guy $250 again for what is now a very simple return. I just did it by hand using the 1040 .pdf file and know what the results should be. I've always done my own but the past 20 years we have used her family friend tax guy and the bill was $340 last year due to several phone calls and emails required.

Would mail it in but want to file electronically for the refund just need the access to do so.

Leaning towards pulling the trigger for the Turbo Tax or H&R block versions.

So if I use a pay to play version this fee is every year right? I'll have to weigh that against the $250 cost and no headache. Oh wait, I've already done the headache part :confused2:......and I keep my crap in order every year 👍
I used Turbo Tax for many years. I disliked their current marketing techniques. They would say free or $29 or whatever and by the time you went through the whole proces, it was over $200.
Last year I used HR Block. It wasa bit clunkier than TT but I got done in similar time. I used again this year and even with a lot of unusual circumstances, I got through quickly and it was $29.
I used to have an Accountant do my taxes because he was good and he had worked for the IRS and knew exactly what he could get away with.
Nowadays, most accountants use a software program and it might be as good as TT or HRBlock.
 

JJT

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I've always done my own taxes for 40+ years and tried turbotax 10+ years ago, I didn't care for the product. I tried H&R Block the following year and have stuck with them ever since.
 

GeneV

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I used Turbo Tax for many years. I disliked their current marketing techniques. They would say free or $29 or whatever and by the time you went through the whole proces, it was over $200.
Last year I used HR Block. It wasa bit clunkier than TT but I got done in similar time. I used again this year and even with a lot of unusual circumstances, I got through quickly and it was $29.
I used to have an Accountant do my taxes because he was good and he had worked for the IRS and knew exactly what he could get away with.
Nowadays, most accountants use a software program and it might be as good as TT or HRBlock.
I'm not for sure what you we're getting with them that racked up $200. Every year, I get the TT Deluxe (fed/state) for $40, which does it all. If you have a bunch of dividends and stocks and all that, and you really need them to dummy down the interview process for you (and honestly, you don't), you could opt for the Premier for $70, but that should be it.
 

Doughknob

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Do myself. Always. On paper…….except trying the free-fillable-forms on the irs site this year.
 

duffer

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For my entire life, I've filed my own taxes (over 50 years of filing). Used TTax for a number of years, but like a previous poster, got pissed at their marketing and bait and switch stuff. Went to HRBlock. Never looked back.

I'm a retired Financial Advisor. I told all my clients who didn't do their own taxes, to go buy either TT or HRB for $20 (back then). Then give their stuff to the their CPA and see how far apart they were. 90%+ of them starting doing their own taxes after that.

If you look closely at the CPA forms they give you to fill out, it's essentially the same layout as the 1040 from the IRS They just input your numbers, do a cursory check for 5 minutes and charge you whatever you'll put up with.

If you use the "interview" format on HRB, it's pretty tough to make a mistake.
 

goeduck

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I have been using H&R Block's software since it was Tax Cut (I think that was the name). Maybe another company prior to that, not sure.
 

Larry Caldwell

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The IRS has been really confused lately. Back in 2020, we got a notice that we had underpaid our 2019 taxes, so they had applied our first 2020 quarterly payment. We asked them why we owed more tax, and they never responded.

Switch to 2021, and we got a bill for additional tax on our 2020 return. We sent them a check. It languished for months without clearing, so we stopped payment on the check and issued a new one, sending it by certified mail this time. Three months later we got a refund of both checks, which arrived a day after the return receipt for the second check. We banked the check and waited. They sent a bill for the full amount we refunded, so we sent them a check. The check cleared. Now we got a bill for the check we stopped payment on. The money has been paid. We have the canceled check.

I don't think the bill has ever been touched by human hands. Their computer generated the bill, and there apparently is no way to discuss it with an actual human being. They were threatening to file tax liens, so I paid them again, and sent them a letter. My accountant says they are currently opening mail from last April, so I expect it will be at least a year before I get my money back.

I still don't know why they think I owed them the money on the 2019 return. They never responded.
 

fishdrivel

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I'm not for sure what you we're getting with them that racked up $200. Every year, I get the TT Deluxe (fed/state) for $40, which does it all. If you have a bunch of dividends and stocks and all that, and you really need them to dummy down the interview process for you (and honestly, you don't), you could opt for the Premier for $70, but that should be it.
I had a bunch of extras last year. I didn't pay. I went elsewhere.
I had 3 states and other things. don't remember.....
 

3 Horse Ranch

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I hear from all the presidential candidates that pretty soon we can do our taxes on a postcard.
Line 1: What are you assets and income _______
Line 2: Make check payable to US Treasury in the amount of line 1
Line 3: Send it in and have a nice day. :)
 

jyoutz

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Well I'm on the fence to continue paying our tax guy $250 again for what is now a very simple return. I just did it by hand using the 1040 .pdf file and know what the results should be. I've always done my own but the past 20 years we have used her family friend tax guy and the bill was $340 last year due to several phone calls and emails required.

Would mail it in but want to file electronically for the refund just need the access to do so.

Leaning towards pulling the trigger for the Turbo Tax or H&R block versions.

So if I use a pay to play version this fee is every year right? I'll have to weigh that against the $250 cost and no headache. Oh wait, I've already done the headache part :confused2:......and I keep my crap in order every year 👍
I have used turbo tax for 18 of the past 20 years. I used a CPA on two returns that were more complex. I like how TT walks you through the process and uploads the previous return information into the current return.
 

metalbender

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My taxes are pretty simple. TT forms, couple minutes it's done. Once electronically filed. the CRA will point out any problems.
 

KennyG

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Whatever you do, always electronic file. Last year I was unable to electronically file because of a computer problem. I sent in the forms with my check as payment in March. Two weeks ago, I got a letter from the IRS saying I had a credit for the amount of my payment but they had not received my tax forms. They were in the same envelope. When I mailed another copy of the forms, the guy at the Post Office said it was very common to see people coming in to mail duplicate tax returns because the IRS had misplaced their return.

The IRS computers seem to work pretty well, the IRS staff less so.
 

npalen

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Yep. I was amazed when poking through TT and entered my employers ID number from W2 and it populated the full W2 info in less than 2 seconds!
I've used TT for a number of years but never experienced the W2 auto populate. Is there a setting for that to occur?
 

GeneV

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I've used TT for a number of years but never experienced the W2 auto populate. Is there a setting for that to occur?
It asks you when you're in the "enter W2" field, but it doesn't work for every employer. Between my wife and I, we have four W2's to enter, and it only does the auto-populate thing for one of them.
 

coldsteelva

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I've used TT for a number of years but never experienced the W2 auto populate. Is there a setting for that to occur?
It is specific not only to the employer, but also the payroll processor (ADP for example). My wife and I work for 2 different companies, but we were able to take advantage of the ADP import. I was also able to take advantage of the import functionality for my brokerage account (1099-B) and my corporate stock accounts (1099-DIVs).

The 1099-B import from the brokerage is a lifesaver; every sale transaction is reported with the associated short or long term capital gains. To do that manually would take forever.
 

dfkrug

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The 1099-B import from the brokerage is a lifesaver; every sale transaction is reported with the associated short or long term capital gains. To do that manually would take forever.
I specifically started using MacInTax (acquired by TT) back in '91 to help input Schedule D data for stock sales. I used Excel for that (and still do) and transfer the numbers. I also use it for options sales.

Major brokerages have had electronic import of 1099s into TurboTax for several years now, but they often get basis data wrong. It has improved, but it is not quite there yet, so I continue to enter 1099 data manually.

TT has also handled short sales cap gains fine.

Historically, many pro tax prep companies have not bothered to enter Sched D capital gains into their tax software, choosing to enter just the ST and LT totals and the entry "various". Attached listings of the "various" sales of capital assets was optional. I was never comfortable with that.
 

orezok

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I turned 75 last week and to the best of my recollection I have done my own taxes since TT first appeared and never have had an IRS inquiry using computer programs.
 

JasperFrank

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"Gov't: You owes us taxes and its your responsibility to figure out how to pay us. Oh, and if you make a mistake we will fine or jail you, or both. Good luck." - Tradosaurus.

I've done my own taxes for 40 years, and through several businesses that needed somewhat complicated filings. The idea that the IRS is some sort of draconian branch of the government is entirely untrue. I have made mistakes, and the IRS has made mistakes. If you are willing to work with them, they will work with you. You have to be actively attempting to hide income for them to be concerned. Over the 40 years, I only had three filings that were questioned. Two resolved that the IRS sent me an adjustment check, and one, which WAS entirely my fault, I had to pay a 116 dollar penalty for not filing quarterly. And in these three cases, everyone I dealt with on the federal level was very nice, and very professional.

State Taxes are a whole other story. I'm lucky enough to live in Oregon. Almost routinely, my filings were looked over and they said I OVER PAID, and here is your adjustment refund check and the reasons why I was getting a refund. When I lived in Maryland, it was the opposite. That State WAS draconian. You owe this much more, and its up to you to prove us wrong. :)
 
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duffer

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Ever since the gov't mandated that a custodian of a brokerage acct must include the cost basis for investment transactions, the IRS has the capability to "reconcile" your ST & LT gains (losses) against what the custodian reported to them for the SS number on the acct.

I'm a retired Financial Advisor and Tax strategist, and I have used the Various-ST and Various-LT totals for years, without any problems (assuming that what I reported matches the 1099 numbers provided by the custodian). Saves me a ton of time not having to log each transaction, or even importing it.
 

oosik

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I just got my report back from my preparer. I will be getting a small refund. Wonders will never cease. First time in I don't know how many years.
 

ap0915

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Always do my own now. One W2, mortgage interest statement, charitable donations to church. Much simpler than years ago when me and the wife had multiple jobs.
 

dfkrug

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Ever since the gov't mandated that a custodian of a brokerage acct must include the cost basis for investment transactions, the IRS has the capability to "reconcile" your ST & LT gains (losses) against what the custodian reported to them for the SS number on the acct.

I'm a retired Financial Advisor and Tax strategist, and I have used the Various-ST and Various-LT totals for years, without any problems (assuming that what I reported matches the 1099 numbers provided by the custodian). Saves me a ton of time not having to log each transaction, or even importing it.
Yeah, brokerages are getting better at reporting the cost basis of equities accurately. However, they still have some stocks that come up as "uncovered", and they have not always dealt with splits and return of capital distributions accurately. Options basis reports are improving, but not always right.

If you use "various" to report totals, then you still need to properly account for each transaction outside of your tax software. There can be a lot of them if you own mutual funds, participate in dividend reinvestment plans, or do short sales.

Mutual funds may also make it easier to report LT and ST gains by generating an "average cost basis" for you. That method may not be advantageous, however.
 

duffer

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If you use "various" to report totals, then you still need to properly account for each transaction outside of your tax software. There can be a lot of them if you own mutual funds, participate in dividend reinvestment plans, or do short sales.

Mutual funds may also make it easier to report LT and ST gains by generating an "average cost basis" for you. That method may not be advantageous, however.
 

duffer

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You're right, average cost basis is rarely the best way to account for your gains. But the dividend reinvestment cost basis should be (key words: should be) detailed by your custodian. It would be on your statements, and if your custodian is like mine, I can drill down to the day of purchase for every share bot or sold, and it is included in the cost basis on the 1099 after the sale. Perhaps not all custodians do this, even though they're supposed to. I had some major issues with Schwab a long time ago, and their pi$$ poor accounting. Ended up moving the account to another custodian.

Not a fan of mutual funds anymore, ever since ETF's came on strong. Lots of reasons, but to each his own. Sometimes it's the only choice you have, like in a 401k or 403b plan.
 

JethroB

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Here’s a little nugget if true regarding the two largest tax prep software giant. Be careful clicking on the multiple AGREE boxes.

What data do they want?


America is sorely lacking privacy laws, but it does have one that prevents tax-prep companies from disclosing the contents of your tax return. For H&R Block and Intuit, that means they can’t automatically use the contents of anyone’s returns for purposes other than preparing taxes.


Both companies are asking you to grant them special permission to go beyond these default federal protections and use your return — including your income, investments and mortgage details — to help them upsell you on other things.


In addition, H&R Block also wants your permission to share some of the content of your return with two independent companies in the Philippines that help them do customer service.

What happens if you click ‘agree’?

Clicking yes for the “personalized service” or “offers” request means you’re probably going to receive marketing from H&R Block or Intuit that’s eerily specific to your financial situation.

This might come in the form offers for financial products when you’re done with your taxes, ads on sites that belong to sister companies (like Intuit’s Mint or Credit Karma), or ads that come from these companies via email.

- Copied from the Washington Post website. Just something I ran across, not necessarily a fan of them.
 

Oaktree

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Yeah, brokerages are getting better at reporting the cost basis of equities accurately. However, they still have some stocks that come up as "uncovered", and they have not always dealt with splits and return of capital distributions accurately. Options basis reports are improving, but not always right.

If you use "various" to report totals, then you still need to properly account for each transaction outside of your tax software. There can be a lot of them if you own mutual funds, participate in dividend reinvestment plans, or do short sales.

Mutual funds may also make it easier to report LT and ST gains by generating an "average cost basis" for you. That method may not be advantageous, however.
Trouble with mutual funds is that there's a lot of "churn" in their holdings, much of it short term gains that you need to pay taxes on.

I don't worry about the grouped short/long term reports from my brokerage account, I figure I'm safe as long as what they report to me is the same as what they report to the IRS.
State Taxes are a whole other story. I'm lucky enough to live in Oregon. Almost routinely, my filings were looked over and they said I OVER PAID, and here is your adjustment refund check and the reasons why I was getting a refund. When I lived in Maryland, it was the opposite. That State WAS draconian. You owe this much more, and its up to you to prove us wrong. :)
Yeah. I live in a state with no income tax (other than one on interest & dividends earned out of state, which I've never exceeded the exempt threshold), but some of my (self-employment) income is from a neighboring state who does have one. Unfortunately, they don't offer on-line filing for non-residents, and their forms are convoluted enough to make your head explode. Fortunately, only a relatively small portion of my income comes from there.
 
 
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