TaxAct and alternatives

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Blues
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by Blues » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:44 am

Just finished our 2017 returns using FreeTaxUSA for the first time, (after using only TaxAct (desktop and online) for the last dozen years or so).

Couldn't have been much easier or more intuitive. Was able to do both federal and state very quickly and efficiently. (It imported last year's TaxAct return to facilitate the process.)

Our returns are fairly straightforward though there are a couple of key issues that need to be accounted for...and each were in plain view once we got to that point of the return. Easy-peasy.

Comparing the returns to 2016 (via TaxAct), it took no more time to prepare, in fact probably less, and the bottom line reached was essentially equivalent to TaxAct's from last year, allowing for some differences in annual income this year.

At this point I don't see myself using any other tax preparation service for our returns going forward...absent a compelling reason to do so. Hasta la vista, TaxAct. And my thanks to those members who recommended FreeTaxUSA as a viable alternative. :beer
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

GTBuzz
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by GTBuzz » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:59 am

I'm not yet ready to file, but I've run through FreeTaxUSA and could not find any info about using your refund to buy paper Series I Savings Bonds (Form 8888). Does anyone know if this is available with FreeTaxUSA? If not, I will probably just go with IRS Free Fillable Forms.

Blaze
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by Blaze » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:39 pm

Dontcha love that you not only have to pay the money but you also have to go thru a hassle to fill out all the forms?
Today there's one additional hassle: trying to sort thru the available options to file!
I went from an accountant (years ago) to doing it myself with IRS forms, to using desktop TT.
Then the newcomer TA came along and it was a lot better deal and I switched, ticked off at the millions that TT was making. Now the new owners of TA have changed the landscape, although only in principle, really.

In my situation I prefer a "desktop" version, i.e. no personal data to a cloud server.
I need interest/dividends, stock sales, so for TA it's "Plus" and for TT it's "Deluxe."

TA is $64, possibly with 15% off (so ~$54) if you google "coupon "tax act"" and look around. I couldn't find a better deal than 15% and I don't know what the catch is. The last TA promo, to my knowledge, was months ago.
TT on the other hand has a promo on their website that goes most of January: $42 if I buy before Jan 22.

It certainly isn't the $12 difference, it's the attitude that Tax Act has, believing (I guess) that I am so hooked that I have to pay it.
It will cost me the hassle of doing a little more typing into the form, but I'm doing it. Back to TurboTax for 2017 taxes.
Dontcha love this crazy world?

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oneleaf
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by oneleaf » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:09 pm

I agree that FreeTaxUSA is probably even better than TaxAct, when it comes to the interface (at least the online interface). I see no reason to pay for TaxAct anymore. However, I ended up needing TurboTax this year due to a specific form 1116 requirement. Otherwise I would use FreeTaxUSA.

2015
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by 2015 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:55 pm

Blues wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:44 am
Just finished our 2017 returns using FreeTaxUSA for the first time, (after using only TaxAct (desktop and online) for the last dozen years or so).

Couldn't have been much easier or more intuitive. Was able to do both federal and state very quickly and efficiently. (It imported last year's TaxAct return to facilitate the process.)

Our returns are fairly straightforward though there are a couple of key issues that need to be accounted for...and each were in plain view once we got to that point of the return. Easy-peasy.

Comparing the returns to 2016 (via TaxAct), it took no more time to prepare, in fact probably less, and the bottom line reached was essentially equivalent to TaxAct's from last year, allowing for some differences in annual income this year.

At this point I don't see myself using any other tax preparation service for our returns going forward...absent a compelling reason to do so. Hasta la vista, TaxAct. And my thanks to those members who recommended FreeTaxUSA as a viable alternative. :beer
That's all well and good, except I need a download product in order to model taxes, particularly given the new tax law, ACA, TLH, TGH, roth conversions, and as well as other strategies in order to maximize tax bracket management.

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Blues
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by Blues » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:06 pm

2015 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:55 pm
That's all well and good, except I need a download product in order to model taxes, particularly given the new tax law, ACA, TLH, TGH, roth conversions, and as well as other strategies in order to maximize tax bracket management.
Oh well, then. For many however, it will be a sufficient and viable solution. It's an alternative. Not the alternative.

Each will have to weigh the pros, cons, and options.
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

2015
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by 2015 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:19 pm

Blues wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:06 pm
2015 wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:55 pm
That's all well and good, except I need a download product in order to model taxes, particularly given the new tax law, ACA, TLH, TGH, roth conversions, and as well as other strategies in order to maximize tax bracket management.
Oh well, then. For many however, it will be a sufficient and viable solution. It's an alternative. Not the alternative.

Each will have to weigh the pros, cons, and options.
I would only agree with your first statement were it changed to for "for those who don't care [about taxes], it will be a sufficient and viable solution." My rationale for engaging in tax bracket management is founded on the concept that the two greatest contributors to PF returns are minimizing fees and taxes. Yes, it's taken a lot of work to learn it, but as a result of prior modeling, this year alone I saved over $5K in health care costs courtesy of PTC's (the IRS is paying 90% of my premiums now :) ). I just finished my taxes and will be paying less than $500 state/fed, and that's with use of the ACA, engaging in TGH, and roth conversions/recharacterizations in order to minimize the RMD/SS tax torpedo at 70 (sadly, recharactarizations are no more as of this year).

An elderly friend was hit with $3K in IRMAA taxes this year because she had no knowledge of how to minimize these taxes. Depending on whether opportunities arise to engage in TLH next year, I could face substantial (at least for me) tax liabilities as a result of the interplay of CG's, ACA, and IRMAA over the next 3 years. I need download tax software in order to minimize this impact through modeling.

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Blues
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by Blues » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:11 pm

2015, I would caution you not make assumptions about others based upon something as simple as what we have discussed here. Your tone is condescending at best.

Some of us are under different health care systems. I, as a retired federal law enforcement officer, am under FEHB and don't have the same hoops to jump through. Also, I have decided to fill my bracket with Roth conversions instead of harvesting capital gains because it helps me down the road when I will have to take an RMD a few years before my wife will.

On the state level, since my pension is not taxable by my state due to my length of service and a settlement made by the state, I no longer have to worry (as much) about looking for and wringing out every possible advantage. Your mileage may and does vary. I won't look down upon you for finding yourself in that situation. Maybe you should try showing the same respect to those whose circumstances are different than yours. Don't mistake the fact that "this year" FreeTaxUSA is sufficient with "not caring".

Hopefully you don't really feel the need to see whose portfolio is bigger... :oops:

Now, feel free to have the last word if you must. I'm satisfied that there are some who will have found value in knowing that there are alternative services that may meet their needs. Those are the folks for whom my comments were intended. Have a nice day.
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

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oneleaf
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by oneleaf » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:37 pm

Yea, agree with Blues, not sure how 2015's condescending attitude was warranted. Besides, I used FreeTaxUSA's service in early December to model my expected taxes for 2017 and it was very useful. It worked fine for me, and I certainly care about taxes.

2015
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by 2015 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:48 pm

Blues wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:11 pm
2015, I would caution you not make assumptions about others based upon something as simple as what we have discussed here. Your tone is condescending at best.

Some of us are under different health care systems. I, as a retired federal law enforcement officer, am under FEHB and don't have the same hoops to jump through. Also, I have decided to fill my bracket with Roth conversions instead of harvesting capital gains because it helps me down the road when I will have to take an RMD a few years before my wife will.

On the state level, since my pension is not taxable by my state due to my length of service and a settlement made by the state, I no longer have to worry (as much) about looking for and wringing out every possible advantage. Your mileage may and does vary. I won't look down upon you for finding yourself in that situation. Maybe you should try showing the same respect to those whose circumstances are different than yours. Don't mistake the fact that "this year" FreeTaxUSA is sufficient with "not caring".

Hopefully you don't really feel the need to see whose portfolio is bigger... :oops:

Now, feel free to have the last word if you must. I'm satisfied that there are some who will have found value in knowing that there are alternative services that may meet their needs. Those are the folks for whom my comments were intended. Have a nice day.
Blues, my intention was not at all to be condescending, "look down upon", or make assumptions about anyone (other than some people do choose to not care about tax minimization--which is fine, and who could blame them, it's difficult after all!).

I am well aware that all situations are different, which is what makes tax modeling so difficult due to the various parts that interplay for each individual. I was only pointing out there are many advantages to tax minimization for someone in my situation, and tax modeling helps with this. Your own use of roth conversions is an example of an excellent tax minimization strategy for your situation.

SrGrumpy
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by SrGrumpy » Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:59 pm

I realize it's an old thread, but I wonder if there are any more success stories from TA price-hike refugees at other sites? My income is less than $25k, and I don't feel like forking out $103 for their freelancer package + audit defence. I am inclined to do a do-over at freetaxusa unless people have objections.

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Blues
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by Blues » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:14 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:59 pm
I realize it's an old thread, but I wonder if there are any more success stories from TA price-hike refugees at other sites? My income is less than $25k, and I don't feel like forking out $103 for their freelancer package + audit defence. I am inclined to do a do-over at freetaxusa unless people have objections.
I filed both federal and state with FreeTaxUSA, have had both returns accepted and (small) refunds generated. Couldn't have been simpler or more straightforward.

They will have a steady customer from here on out if they don't succumb to TaxAct-like antics in future years.

Consider that a positive data point from a former TaxAct user of a dozen or so years.
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

SrGrumpy
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by SrGrumpy » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:29 pm

Thanks @Blues. I'm just relieved that they could import my 2016 data from Taxact. So far, so good.

P.S. Well, actually - the import looks a bit incomplete. Not all the DIV data made it.

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MossySF
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by MossySF » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:19 am

I used to use TaxAct desktop back when it was the cheap option.

But starting a few years ago, I got rid of all my Windows machines so I've had to use TaxAct online. Ugh, their website is so slow but I ploddingly made it through each time.

I've started a quick test now on FreeTaxUSA and it's so much faster. My company no longer has a HSA compatible health plan which gets rid of that tax complication so I suspect FreeTaxUSA will be fine for me.

harmony
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by harmony » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:42 pm

Is Audit Defense worth that much? https://www.taxact.com/support/21940/20 ... -questions
They don’t even review your return first. I would rather have the ability to review my own prior years tax forms and do tax planning for future years though. I got Windows 10 just to run TaxAct software on a remote desktop which I access from my Linux machine.

If SrGrumpy needs Freelancer (Schedule C) anyway, wouldn’t it be important to have all those supporting records accessible? The way you handle business expenses from year to year will be embedded within your tax software's records and hopefully in the other records you keep. The tax returns can be a good planning tool especially if you are free lancing in a complex or expanding manner.

Chuck
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by Chuck » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:42 am

I just finished using FreeTaxUSA for the first time and I'm pleased.

I also found TaxAct's website to be slow and inefficient (many screens to enter information that could easily be a single screen, as well as slow page loads), but I had been using it for the past several years out of habit, and because they always offered me a huge discount if I pay early.

This year, the huge discount on TaxAct didn't come, and now that I've seen how easy and quick it is to enter information into FreeTaxUSA, I think I'm sold. I even paid their $6.99 "deluxe" fee on the off chance I need to file an amended return, but mostly as a "tip" for good service.

new2bogle
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by new2bogle » Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:41 pm

For the people that used FreeTaxUSA: there was a comment made a few months ago about last year's version (for 2016 taxes) not having the sufficient forms/inputs to adjust ESPP prices. Has anyone encountered this for tax year 2017?

yakk0
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by yakk0 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:24 pm

new2bogle wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:41 pm
For the people that used FreeTaxUSA: there was a comment made a few months ago about last year's version (for 2016 taxes) not having the sufficient forms/inputs to adjust ESPP prices. Has anyone encountered this for tax year 2017?
I can confirm that was able to input my ESPP cost basis adjustments in the correct boxes in FreeTaxUSA for tax year 2017. I was one who tried it last year and couldn't get it to populate the correct box.

new2bogle
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by new2bogle » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:58 am

yakk0 wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:24 pm
new2bogle wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:41 pm
For the people that used FreeTaxUSA: there was a comment made a few months ago about last year's version (for 2016 taxes) not having the sufficient forms/inputs to adjust ESPP prices. Has anyone encountered this for tax year 2017?
I can confirm that was able to input my ESPP cost basis adjustments in the correct boxes in FreeTaxUSA for tax year 2017. I was one who tried it last year and couldn't get it to populate the correct box.
Thank you!

mikep
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Re: TaxAct and alternatives

Post by mikep » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:37 pm

new2bogle wrote:
Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:41 pm
For the people that used FreeTaxUSA: there was a comment made a few months ago about last year's version (for 2016 taxes) not having the sufficient forms/inputs to adjust ESPP prices. Has anyone encountered this for tax year 2017?
That's good to know I also saw that issue.
Now the other issue I found: Can FreeTaxUSA report HSA interest and capital gains in California? That was the other problem I found.

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