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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The "T" Word (Taxes)

It's that time again. Tax Season.

This is the time of year when I stalk the mailman every day to see if he brought any of the necessary stuff we need to do our taxes. For someone who hated math in school, I certainly relish crunching numbers when it comes time to file our taxes.

Luckily, we usually end up getting a refund instead of owing...which probably explains why I enjoy filing so much.

We have filed using several different methods over the years...the first couple of years we used trusty H&R Block...and then got sticker shock when we were all done and had to pay them a decent chunk of our refund.

Then, a couple of years ago, I saw an ad for TaxAct that said it was free to use and decided to give it a try. I'm really glad I did.

It's super easy to use...I just logged on to TaxAct.com and went through the interviewing process that asks me questions and tells me where to look on my tax documents (like w2's, 1099's etc) for the correct answer and then...voila! Done. The great part...it's actually free.

This year, for some reason, I decided to try out some new talent. I logged on to TurboTax.com (which also claims to be free) and ran through the same scenario. After I answered some questions, I was informed that the basic (aka "free") version was not for me. Therefore: I had to 'upgrade' (read: PAY). That stinks.

Okay, so I swallowed my irritation about that and went on anyway. TurboTax 'guarantees' you the largest refund so I chalked it up to paying a little more to get a little more...

When I was almost completely finished, I accidentally 'upgraded' again, and after about a half hour of frustration and mindless searching for a way to 'downgrade' I glanced over at the 'online community' FAQ's to see that someone else had done the same thing. The answer...tough luck. I was stuck. I either had to suck it up and pay or I had to start over from scratch and create a whole new profile as well as re-renter all of our tax info.

Okay, this wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't have a splitting headache and four kids running around, screaming, fighting and demanding to be fed. So, after taking a break to referee, right the world and feed the children, I was back at it. I re-entered all of my info and did not click on the 'upgrade now' tab that is placed just a little too confusingly close to the 'no thanks' tab at the bottom of the screen, and finally made it to the end! I felt like I should be wearing a crown of leaves and a gold medal.

...And then, I chose to e-file the federal return and wait on the state. You have the option of 'un-clicking' the 'e-file state return now' button (which I did) but when I got to the part where the fees are outlined, the fee for filing state was still there. I went back twice and 'un-clicked' the option, but it kept adding it in.

The grand total for FREE federal e-filing? +$81!

Say what?

I don't know what I was more mad about...that it was charging me for my FREE federal return, that there was an unexpected $26.95 "processing fee," (which waas never mentioned before) that the state return wouldn't 'un-click' or that I SPENT ALL FREAKIN DAY DOING THIS just to have to DO IT ONE MORE TIME!

sigh

Sooooooooooooo, back  to TaxAct I went...sorry I had ever cheated on the old girl in the first place.

I filed (actually FOR FREE this time) and submitted (only the federal) and--get this--THE REFUND WAS ACTUALLY BIGGER!!!!

It was so worth it. Now I can go and file our state return on the PA site FOR FREE.

What about you? What services do you use? Online or purchased? What is your experience? I'd love to hear...
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