March 7, 2004
@ 12:07 AM

For the past few years I've had my taxes done by H & R Block and each year their prices get steeper. This year the price tag would have been a bit shy of $200. Considering that all the tax preparer did was enter some values into some fields after being prompted by the tax preparation software that seemed a bit steep. A couple of folks have recommended TurboTax so I've decided to give it a try this year. At a cost of about $30, it seems this year I'll not have the ripped of feeling I usually do after filing my taxes.



Sunday, March 7, 2004 2:11:27 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I switched over to Turbo Tax about four years back after using an accountant prior to that, and I've decided that I won't go back. Even if your personal finances are so complicated or your potential liability is so high that you have to use a third party, H&R Block is probably not the best choice. The whole tax preparation business model has been changed by the high-interest loans they provide under the label "immediate refund". Its sort of a "churn and burn" approach to handling people's tax returns, and I've heard stories about all kinds of basic mistakes that get made also that make me question the value. I think most people should avoid those places and either do it on their own or get an accountant that is familiar with their personal finances.
Sunday, March 7, 2004 9:10:12 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I've been a happy user of the H&R Block online tax preparation. It's pretty cheap and I felt the software did a good job of walking me through all the steps.
Sunday, March 7, 2004 12:53:15 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
This is my third year using TurboTax. Some tips for you:

- next time buy it at Costco. It is cheaper.

- Microsoft offers a free e-filing service some time in March/April.

Sunday, March 7, 2004 11:01:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I've used for the last two years. Super easy, no install footprint. It doesn't care much for IE6, though.
Monday, March 8, 2004 10:20:35 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
My accountant charges about $150, and I know she does better than H&R, because my friend who referred her to me used to use H&R, until he realized how many deductions they were missing. I used to use TurboTax, but my tax situation got to be complex enough that TurboTax wasn't much better than paper filing. You still end up having to read IRS forms to answer the questions properly. Now when I say "complex enough", that's a relative term. Given that I have zero patience for tax forms, my tipping point was probably lower than most. So instead of feeling ripped off by the tax preparer, I get to enjoy that ripped off feeling from simply filing taxes. I don't have empirical evidence for this, but I'm pretty sure the USA has the most baroque tax code ever devised.
Tuesday, March 9, 2004 8:46:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Also be careful, I've heard that some tax preparation work is being sent overseas for processing....
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