Self tax preparation for a newby

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Topic Author
guppyguy
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:24 pm

Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by guppyguy » Tue Jan 14, 2020 5:24 pm

Last time I filed our own taxes was in 1998 using TurboTax. While I have enjoyed my experience with my tax preparer (the same one this whole time), I'm yearning to do them again myself and save the $350 and learn.

Beyond W2s and taxable assets at Schwab, I also have rental properties. I will probably be taking the standard deduction this year. Live in TX so no state income filing.

Using a Mac.

1) Which software should I try first? TaxAct, TurboTax, HR Block?
2) Why wouldn't I need the Premier edition of TurboTax since I have rentals?
3) Pro/con of download vs online?
4) Is it possible to try a 2018 return with one of the above and compare it with my accountants?

fyre4ce
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by fyre4ce » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:43 pm

How familiar are you with the tax rules for depreciation and business assets? Not saying you shouldn't do the taxes yourself, but there could be a chunk of knowledge you'd need before you can accurately prepare rental property taxes.

livesoft
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:45 pm

Online has never appealed to me because I like to do multiple "What if?" tax return possibilities and save them as separate files even when the internet isn't working.
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Topic Author
guppyguy
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by guppyguy » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:29 pm

fyre4ce wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:43 pm
How familiar are you with the tax rules for depreciation and business assets? Not saying you shouldn't do the taxes yourself, but there could be a chunk of knowledge you'd need before you can accurately prepare rental property taxes.
I'm pretty familiar.

hachiko
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by hachiko » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:33 pm

If your accountant was only charging you $350 for a return with rental properties, he/she was probably just punching in your information to one of the software programs anyway.

Assuming by taxable assets at Schwab you mean just capital gains from the sale publicly traded corporations and maybe dividends? Also assuming the rental properties are in Texas as well? What sort of expenses and income do you have with respect to the rental properties?

1) You want to try all three? What do you mean by "try first?" I would just compare the return per one of the software programs and compare with your prior year return.
4) I don't think you necessarily need to buy the 2018 version and plug in your 2018 information, unless you're not able to follow the changes from 2018 to 2019.

fyre4ce
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by fyre4ce » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:45 pm

guppyguy wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:29 pm
fyre4ce wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:43 pm
How familiar are you with the tax rules for depreciation and business assets? Not saying you shouldn't do the taxes yourself, but there could be a chunk of knowledge you'd need before you can accurately prepare rental property taxes.
I'm pretty familiar.
I was in a similar situation a few years ago (even the Mac). I got downloadable TurboTax Premium and have been happy with it. I've since read on here that all you need is Deluxe. I think you can do it yourself. Look at it this way - if you screw up, you'd have to screw up by more than $300 in missed deductions or interest and penalties, each year, for it to not be worth it financially. That doesn't count the qualitative benefit you get from learning the tax code.

Jablean
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by Jablean » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:45 am

You do not want online TurboTax because you can't get into the forms themselves and can only answer questions so get the download or buy the CD.

Yes you can create mutiple files with one program and the taxes haven't changed that much in 2019 from 2018 so copying what your preparer did last year is certainly doable, realizing the final tax number will be different. (you do not want to try this comparing years 2017 to 2018 - way too many changes)

If you want actual there are probably lots of peeps like me who have last year's CDs that you might find or do ISO (in search of) on craigslist or facebook marketplace or maybe a thrift store)

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dratkinson
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by dratkinson » Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:54 am

When I assumed responsibility for my rental property tax returns from my CPA in '93, I bought 2yrs of TT to do my '93 tax return.
--'92 TT. To copy CPA's work to set up property depreciation schedule. My return matched his.
--'93 TT. My first rental property tax return. TT copied forward '92 depreciation schedule. (Phew!)

Lather, rinse, repeat every year with next TT.

Not saying TT is the best option, just the one I used.

Was glad when I sold the properties.
d.r.a., not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

Topic Author
guppyguy
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by guppyguy » Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:58 am

hachiko wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:33 pm
If your accountant was only charging you $350 for a return with rental properties, he/she was probably just punching in your information to one of the software programs anyway.

Assuming by taxable assets at Schwab you mean just capital gains from the sale publicly traded corporations and maybe dividends? Also assuming the rental properties are in Texas as well? What sort of expenses and income do you have with respect to the rental properties?

1) You want to try all three? What do you mean by "try first?" I would just compare the return per one of the software programs and compare with your prior year return.
Yes, Schwab is just capital gains/dividends etc.
Rentals are in Indiana and managed by a company there.

No, don't want to try all three, however, I don't want to switch every year either.

Topic Author
guppyguy
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by guppyguy » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:01 am

Jablean wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:45 am
You do not want online TurboTax because you can't get into the forms themselves and can only answer questions so get the download or buy the CD.
Is this true for TaxAct as well?

bsteiner
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by bsteiner » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:17 pm

You can usually buy the CDs for prior years on eBay or Amazon or directly from the software company.

Gray
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by Gray » Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:37 am

Jablean wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:45 am
You do not want online TurboTax because you can't get into the forms themselves and can only answer questions so get the download or buy the CD.

Yes you can create mutiple files with one program and the taxes haven't changed that much in 2019 from 2018 so copying what your preparer did last year is certainly doable, realizing the final tax number will be different. (you do not want to try this comparing years 2017 to 2018 - way too many changes)

If you want actual there are probably lots of peeps like me who have last year's CDs that you might find or do ISO (in search of) on craigslist or facebook marketplace or maybe a thrift store)

The cost of buying TT download (for what-if purposes) for next to nothing on Black Friday/Cyber Monday (and not filing) and THEN buying TT Online to file, is still significantly below a tax preparer. I have used TT since the 95 tax year and filed with Online for 9 years or so. The convenience of the Online experience is amazing.

You can do what-if with Online from a data entry standpoint, but not with control of the forms. On rare occasions, I’ve done what-ifs with different tax SW download versions. My return is pretty consistent, and the more complex yours is, well... the investment in a preparer may be worth it, but I recommend TT.

Once you’ve filed with Online, you can download 3 different PDF file types (return filed, return filed and IRS worksheets, and return filed and IRS+TurboTax worksheets), as well as a .tax file to import into the TT download version.

talzara
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by talzara » Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:09 pm

Gray wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:37 am
The cost of buying TT download (for what-if purposes) for next to nothing on Black Friday/Cyber Monday (and not filing) and THEN buying TT Online to file, is still significantly below a tax preparer. I have used TT since the 95 tax year and filed with Online for 9 years or so. The convenience of the Online experience is amazing.
Why would you pay for both versions of the software? E-filing is included in the downloaded version of TurboTax.

Gray
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Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by Gray » Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:51 pm

talzara wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:09 pm
Gray wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:37 am
The cost of buying TT download (for what-if purposes) for next to nothing on Black Friday/Cyber Monday (and not filing) and THEN buying TT Online to file, is still significantly below a tax preparer. I have used TT since the 95 tax year and filed with Online for 9 years or so. The convenience of the Online experience is amazing.
Why would you pay for both versions of the software? E-filing is included in the downloaded version of TurboTax.
Buy the Download TT only if you want/need to manipulate the forms to create what-if scenarios as saved files. You can still do what-if scenarios with Online, but you do it by modifying the data in the interfaces as presented by TT.

If you want to file using Online, go for it. That way, you have all your tax data backed up and it automatically imports into next year’s return. Highly convenient.

There is a Turbo Tax Vault in the Online version for each tax year to which you can upload supporting documents and forms. I use it just in case my Personal Vault (new feature) in OneDrive has issues. Always enable multi-factor authentication for TurboTax, your email service, etc. preferably one-time password generators vs cell phone 2 factor authentication.

talzara
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Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by talzara » Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:58 pm

Gray wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:51 pm
Buy the Download TT only if you want/need to manipulate the forms to create what-if scenarios as saved files.
Or if you want to keep your data on your own computer until you e-file.

Or if you want to file two returns without paying Intuit twice as much.

Or if you want to prepare a state return without paying Intuit more money.

Or if you want to report capital gains without paying Intuit more money.

With the installed version, you can always turn down any upsells. Every edition contains every form, so you can always go to the form and fill it out. With the Online version, this is not an option. Your data is on Intuit's servers, so you're stuck until you pay.
Gray wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:51 pm
If you want to file using Online, go for it. That way, you have all your tax data backed up and it automatically imports into next year’s return. Highly convenient.
It is convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost.

Gray
Posts: 695
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:33 am

Re: Self tax preparation for a newby

Post by Gray » Sat Jan 25, 2020 1:22 am

talzara wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:58 pm
Gray wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:51 pm
Buy the Download TT only if you want/need to manipulate the forms to create what-if scenarios as saved files.
Or if you want to keep your data on your own computer until you e-file.

Or if you want to file two returns without paying Intuit twice as much.

Or if you want to prepare a state return without paying Intuit more money.

Or if you want to report capital gains without paying Intuit more money.

With the installed version, you can always turn down any upsells. Every edition contains every form, so you can always go to the form and fill it out. With the Online version, this is not an option. Your data is on Intuit's servers, so you're stuck until you pay.
Gray wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:51 pm
If you want to file using Online, go for it. That way, you have all your tax data backed up and it automatically imports into next year’s return. Highly convenient.
It is convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost.
Yeah, but $50 isn’t that much. It’s less than taking your family to the movies these days.

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