Sunday, April 03, 2011

TaxAct: best alternative to Turbo Tax?

I did my taxes the other night. At first, I used the Free Fillable Forms like I'd used last year - it is supposed to be the most basic "do-it-yourself" online method, similar to just filing electronically with the IRS. But it's not the same. It's run by a third-party (a tax accountant trade group), and it's crippled for that reason (see this interesting Fatwallet discussion). I quit when I found out that I wouldn't be able to import my capital gains but I would have to do them manually. Since my broker gives me free access to Gainskeeper, which automatically creates the capital gains information, I wasn't going to do it manually (it's only about a dozen trades).

The next thing I tried was "Complete Tax from E-Smart" (, which was a mistake - minor issues in how it accepted my input led me to skip past that. I glanced at Turbo Tax, but I try to avoid the market leader in many cases to stimulate competition - and it is obvious that Turbo Tax was using its position to impose higher costs, since it was charging me $50 for my return. I then tried H&R Block, although the company's legion of tax employees makes me wary that they would produce a crippled product - and it also required manual entry for capital gains.

I settled on TaxAct. To avoid manual entry of capital gains, I had to pay $10, and they also charged me $5 to save a backup copy, but that's a far cry from $50. I was satisfied with its interface, although I actually had to load up IE to import my .csv file with the capital gains.

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