tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

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JohnFiscal
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tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by JohnFiscal » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:19 pm

I'm interested in exploring different tactics for my Federal income tax over the next several years. I'm used to using various software for engineering calculation/design purposes from my working career. It occurs to me that I ought to be able to use TurboTax the same way, to investigate various "design" alternatives. My "tactics" being Roth conversions, rental income, draws from IRAs, income from outside the US, etc, all or most of which are under my actual control.

Obviously, I won't be filing these sample returns but I assume that I can clear the data from TurboTax and start fresh using some other tactic.

Can anyone familiar with TurboTax comment on this plan? I would plan to buy the CD, probably the Premier version.

I have used web-based TurboTax since year 2000. I suppose I could set up a new web account for experimental/educational purposes only and just never file the returns.

02nz
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by 02nz » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:22 pm

Yes you can do this with the CD or download version (it doesn't matter which one - even if you buy the CD you'll end up downloading a ton of updates). TurboTax usually becomes available around November but the initial version tends to be barely usable, as forms are still being finalized then.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:02 pm

I have used this tax forecaster, don't be fooled by the link name...

https://www.mortgagecalculator.org/calc ... ulator.php

Easy to play "what if" using lots of scenarios.

Note: I see the current calculator is for 2019, BUT I have NOT used it yet, as I am a long-term procrastinator, and will only address the 2019 taxes when I am checking to see if I am in "safe harbor" for my return, IOW at the last possible minute.

Still, last year it seemed to be updated in a timely fashion.

I haven't used Turbo Tax for a few years, as I have found cheaper methods to file, and honestly our return is very simple to complete. Turbo-tax seems an overkill to us at the moment.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

curmudgeon
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by curmudgeon » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:16 pm

JohnFiscal wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:19 pm
I'm interested in exploring different tactics for my Federal income tax over the next several years. I'm used to using various software for engineering calculation/design purposes from my working career. It occurs to me that I ought to be able to use TurboTax the same way, to investigate various "design" alternatives. My "tactics" being Roth conversions, rental income, draws from IRAs, income from outside the US, etc, all or most of which are under my actual control.
While you can do this (and I used to), TT has gotten to be a bit painful for this stuff. They don't let you just plug in the important numbers, but instead keep wanting more details for the nominal forms that would generate those numbers. Effectively you have to mock up full 1099s and such. Mostly I just use the online calculator from mortgagecalculator mentioned in one of the earlier posts. If you have some tax situations that go deep into the weeds, especially if the consequences of choices was significant, I might back up the online calculator with some TT runs of the most important scenarios.

aristotelian
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by aristotelian » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:41 pm

Not sure if this is what you mean, but Turbotax Deluxe CD/download gives you five returns. I use up three for my family. That gives me two returns to play with. I make a copy of my last year's return and label it "draft 2020", which I then use to play around with various scenarios for the coming year.

Unfortunately, Turbotax Online gives you only one return but you could always use FreetaxUSA.com to similar effect.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:47 pm

aristotelian wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:41 pm
Not sure if this is what you mean, but Turbotax Deluxe CD/download gives you five returns. I use up three for my family. That gives me two returns to play with. I make a copy of my last year's return and label it "draft 2020", which I then use to play around with various scenarios for the coming year.

Unfortunately, Turbotax Online gives you only one return but you could always use FreetaxUSA.com to similar effect.
Actually, the limit of 5 is for e-filing only. You can create as many tax returns as you want with TurboTax CD/download.
JohnFiscal wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:19 pm
I'm interested in exploring different tactics for my Federal income tax over the next several years. I'm used to using various software for engineering calculation/design purposes from my working career. It occurs to me that I ought to be able to use TurboTax the same way, to investigate various "design" alternatives. My "tactics" being Roth conversions, rental income, draws from IRAs, income from outside the US, etc, all or most of which are under my actual control.

Obviously, I won't be filing these sample returns but I assume that I can clear the data from TurboTax and start fresh using some other tactic.

Can anyone familiar with TurboTax comment on this plan? I would plan to buy the CD, probably the Premier version.

I have used web-based TurboTax since year 2000. I suppose I could set up a new web account for experimental/educational purposes only and just never file the returns.
You have at least two ways to approach this with TurboTax CD/download.

One way is to enter your return and save it. Then, go in and make changes and see the impact of those changes. Save it under a new name, and go in and make changes again. And so on. The first time you will have to fill out everything, the following times you just jump to the section(s) you want to change and make the change(s). If the change impacts multiple things, TurboTax will catch that in the error section and make you make those changes also. I do this all the time. This option lets you play with the current year's tax rules.

The other way is to go into the specific section of TurboTax designed for forecasting next year's taxes, which they bury intentionally IMO. Open TurboTax, open your return, and click on Other Tax Situations, then scroll down and select Form W-4 and estimated taxes (or type in estimated taxes for next year). You can also jump to the form outside interview mode, it's called ES & W4 Wks. This option lets you play with the next year's tax rules IF they exist and are part of TurboTax (like the max you can put in a 401k).
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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HomeStretch
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by HomeStretch » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:50 pm

You can use TT 2018 “What If” under “Forms” to run a high level estimated 2019 return if that level of detail will suffice. It shows your actual 2018 numbers for a comparison.

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FiveK
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by FiveK » Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:33 pm

JohnFiscal wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:19 pm
I'm used to using various software for engineering calculation/design purposes from my working career. It occurs to me that I ought to be able to use TurboTax the same way, to investigate various "design" alternatives.
Yes, TT or any other commercial package can be used for "what if...?" calculations, one iteration at a time.

If you are at all comfortable with spreadsheets, however, you might use something like the personal finance toolbox spreadsheet (works best in Excel) to show a chart of marginal rates, etc., for a range of tIRA withdrawals, etc.

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CAsage
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by CAsage » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:27 pm

Another truly excellent and free tool is the www.excel1040 spreadsheets, which you can download and update copies to your heart's content. The author has reproduced darn near all the 1040 in Excel sheets, so you can direct enter the data... Quick to play! It's also on this link:

https://sites.google.com/site/excel1040/
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

Kagord
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by Kagord » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:29 pm

CAsage wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:27 pm
Another truly excellent and free tool is the www.excel1040 spreadsheets, which you can download and update copies to your heart's content. The author has reproduced darn near all the 1040 in Excel sheets, so you can direct enter the data... Quick to play! It's also on this link:

https://sites.google.com/site/excel1040/
Thanks for this easy link, I imported into Google Docs (don't have Excel) to check my estimated tax payments for 2019.

TravelforFun
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by TravelforFun » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:48 pm

I use TT to run one set of input and note the results, then run subsequent sets and note their results, and file the best scenario. TT doesn't allow you to save different files under one SS number, and hence, some manual work is involved.

TravelforFun

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RickBoglehead
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:16 pm

TravelforFun wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:48 pm
I use TT to run one set of input and note the results, then run subsequent sets and note their results, and file the best scenario. TT doesn't allow you to save different files under one SS number, and hence, some manual work is involved.

TravelforFun
That is not correct, at least for the CD/download version. I can save as many versions as I want, just by changing the name. I have 3 versions of 2018, changed for assumptions for 2019, right now.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

Topic Author
JohnFiscal
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Re: tax "training" using TurboTax CD ?

Post by JohnFiscal » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:34 pm

Thanks for all the tips. I'll look around for a good price on a legitimate CD.

I do have my own income tax Excel spreadsheet that I've used for 20+ years for annual budget planning purposes and verifying W2s. Retired now but it is still useful. But I have in mind several tax issues that may come up in the future that my spreadsheet would never consider and I'm not comfortable trying to figure out these rules on my own and adding them to my spreadsheet. I used to use the engineering software to learn and expand my own skills, and figure that I can do the same with TurboTax.

thanks!

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