Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review Tuesday: TurboTax Premier 2015

Another year, another tax season. Due to massive work load in the office, I don't have the time to work on family tax returns during the day. Therefore, after a long day of preparing taxes I go home to prepare more. There are many options for tax return preparation out there, but I have been using the TURBOTAX products from INTUIT. 

The first year I needed to get my own software, quite some years back, I went with TurboTax more out of convenience than anything else. At work we use Quickbooks from Intuit for the accounting of some clients, but to me that is inferior when compared to Sage (previously known as Peachtree). The first time I tested out QB I got the feeling that this was software designed for knuckleheads who have no idea how accounting works. With that in mind I had low expectations for tax preparation software that claims to make it easy for the average American to prepare his own taxes. Read in - any knucklehead can make this work. 

In the past I felt that the software was slow, clunky, and bloated. But since I started with this program it was just easier to continue using it going forward as it can bring up basic prior year information and save time on data entry. 

I am not sure if the program has been refined, but it seemed to go much more smoothly this year. I tried it on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10 and all seemed to be quicker than prior versions. It also seemed like many screens were easier to access than previously. 

However, despite being made by a company named INTUIT, I don't find the software especially intuitive. Something simple like entering W2 info by hand becomes a tedious chore because it won't INTUITIVELY insert wages straight down the line for you. You need a separate screen to  list every single line item of interest or dividends. Data entry for stock trades is loathsome. Foreign tax credits and Form 2106 are disorganized and harder than necessary. 

On the flip-side it has several options to automatically draw in your data if you use certain brokers or payroll services. I wish that happened in my case.

The good part of the PREMIER edition is that it comes with one free state. Since I'm in NYS, I was able to e-file both Federal and State returns for FREE! That's a huge plus. But I have seen for other states like California, Ohio, Oregon, Connecticut, and Rhode Island the requirement to pay an additional $60 to file electronically. Save the money, print it out and buy a stamp. The list price is almost $90, you have to drop $60 more?!?!

In the end I think I would call this software mediocre. It gets the job done but it's not entirely painless. 

TurboTax Premier 2015 Federal + State Taxes + Fed Efile Tax Preparation Software - PC/Mac Disc