Tax Preperation Tampa
Tax Prep Tampa
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Intuit's product continues to impress with its easy navigation, clear instructions and ability to import thousands of documents from employers, investment firms and other institutions. Although other software programs also allow you to import documents, none are as comprehensive as TurboTax, which imports information from more than 1.4 million employers and financial institutions.
TurboTax handled our hypothetical taxpayer’s HSA with aplomb, which wasn’t true of some of the other programs we tested. Similarly, the reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act are easy to follow.
This program is a breeze to navigate, and we especially like the checklists -- such as a list of commonly missed tax forms to look for prior to filing your return. Block wants to make sure you have the documents you need. The program also does an excellent job of explaining the new ACA requirements.
Throughout most of our test drive, Block seemed to anticipate our questions and provide links to answers. The “Learn More” icons next to sections such as mortgage deductions and real estate taxes are clear and comprehensive.
Pros: H&R Block’s Deluxe version, which costs $34.99 for a federal tax return ($36.99 for a state return), allows you to report investment income, making it a better deal than TurboTax Deluxe. In the unlikely event that you’re audited, Block will provide an enrolled agent, at no cost, to help you “manage the entire audit experience.”
Cons: The search function is disappointing. A search for “health savings accounts” produces a generic description of HSAs, instead of guidance on where to report contributions and distributions.
TaxAct has long been popular with budget-minded taxpayers, but it’s not as cheap as it used to be. If you itemize, you’ll need to use TaxAct Plus, which costs $14.99, plus $14.99 for a state tax return. That’s still a good deal compared with the cost of filing a state and federal return with some of its competitors.
TaxAct’s summaries of income, deductions and credits allow you to review your work. However, if you realize you’ve left out some information, such as a charitable donation, you’ll have to traverse some of the ground you’ve already covered before you can update the entry.
Pros: New security features are rigorous and reassuring. For example, if you start the program and take a break to walk the dog, TaxAct will log you out after a few minutes of inactivity. TaxAct offers a “Price Lock Guarantee,” which means the price of your program won’t increase between the time you start the program and the time you file.
Cons: Updating entries is time-consuming. TaxAct doesn’t provide as much hand-holding as some other programs.
Jackson Hewitt Deluxe
This program shows some promise. We like the document checklist, and you can export previous years’ returns filed with TurboTax, H&R Block or TaxAct. But aside from that, things go downhill in a hurry.
Some of the language is sloppy, and help is scarce. While filling out the section on deductible mortgage interest, we were asked if we had a Mortgage Credit Certificate but received little guidance as to what that might be. (It’s a certificate offered by some state and local governments that allows homeowners to claim a tax credit for a portion of their mortgages.) In the section on individual retirement accounts, we were told that we made an excess contribution in 2015, which was just wrong.
Pros: The Deluxe version, which costs $34.95, allows you to report most deductions and investment income. A state return costs $36.95, and you get a $20 Walmart e-gift card.
Cons: In addition the problems detailed above, the program is buggy (we were kicked off several times). We were unable to get a response to a question about our purportedly excess IRA contributions from the support team or the “answers” section.
TaxSlayer’s program doesn’t have a lot of frills, but it’s clean and easy to navigate. You can have the program guide you through the forms, or, if you’re feeling confident, skip the hand-holding and do it yourself. It’s easy to review your work and make changes.
Pros: For a bargain price of $12.99, plus $14.99 for a state return, TaxSlayer Classic supports all major IRS forms, including forms used to report investments (Schedule D), profit or loss from a business (Schedule C) and rental income (Schedule E). However, TaxSlayer reserves the right to change its prices without notice.
Cons: Help is limited. For example, when we typed in “health savings accounts penalties,” TaxSlayer only offered a bunch of links with generic information about HSAs. If you want live chat support or would like to pose a question to a tax pro, you must upgrade to TaxSlayer Premium, which costs $34.99 ($14.99 state).