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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/web-turbotax-experience-10691732.aspx

Subject:  Web TurboTax experience Date:  3/20/1999  9:44 PM
Author:  gravitron Number:  12580 of 124528

Hello all...

I filed my taxes for the first time this year, and I did so using Web TurboTax. Just thought I'd share my experience, in case anyone else is wondering what it was like. What follows is a rather long-winded and somewhat verbose chronicle of my experience.

First I shopped around. There are actually several web sites which offer online tax preparation, among them Taxcut.com, Securetax.com, and WebTurbotax.com. I chose WebTurbotax because it seemed be the most cost-effective option. I was looking for a website which provided online, secure filing of both federal AND state taxes, for a low price or preferrably for free. All of these sites were secure; they all had 128-bit SSL encryption. From what I could gather, Taxcut.com allowed you to file a 1040 EZ online for free; however, to file for State (Virginia, in this case) you had to use their Taxcut State Edition software ($19.95 per state). Securetax.com allowed online filing of both federal and state returns. The filing fee was $9.95 for 1040 EZ + state, or $14.95 for 1040 (and associated forms) + state; they accepted credit cards for payment of fees. WebTurboTax allowed online filing of both federal and state forms; the pricing varied depending upon your filing situation. The filing fee was $9.95 for 1040 EZ + state return, or $19.95 for 1040 (and associated forms) + state return. HOWEVER, Intuit is also offering some charity program called the Quicken Tax Freedom Project, which works like this: if your adjusted gross income is less than $20,000, you can use WebTurboTax to file both federal and state returns FOR FREE. I knew (from looking at my pay stubs) that my AGI would be less than twenty grand, so I chose WebTurboTax.

Using WebTurboTax wasn't all that hard; it took only a couple of hours, and the hardest thing about it was staying awake (I was very tired at the time). WebTurboTax is a Java-based service (apparently, it downloads and runs a Java program on your computer); I found this out the hard way when I tried to access WebTurbotax when I had Java disabled on my browser. Moral of the story: enable Java before using WebTurboTax. Once I was in, WebTurbotax took the standard TurboTax interview approach, asking questions about my name, address, SSN, marital status, dependents, expenses, income reported on W-2 and 1099 forms, etc. I found that it was a good idea to have all of your W-2s and 1099s handy; it made the filing process a lot simpler. It probably helped that I'd read up a little on taxes prior to using the service (my employer took two months to mail out my W-2, so what else could I do while I waited?); I'm not sure how necessary this is for using the service, though. The online help section was, well, helpful; it had answers for most of the questions/problems/confusions that I encountered. I didn't have any investments last year, so I didn't get to check out WebTurboTax's features for handling the "pesky Schedule D;" I'll probably get some experience with this next year, though. State filing wasn't too bad either. It was the same Q&A stuff; the web site asked questions and I typed in the answers.

Miscellaneous notes about WebTurboTax. It allows you to stop, save your work, and sign off. So you don't have to do your taxes in one sitting, or even from the same computer. It also has an idle feature; if you let the computer sit idle for a set period, it kicks you off. However, it warns you about this beforehand, and gives you a chance to save your work.

WebTurboTax also allowed me to arrange for a direct deposit (ACH credit) of my federal and state refunds in my checking account. For this, I had to cough up my account type (checking or savings), my account number, and my bank's routing number. Not to shabby.

After everything was said and done, I was able to click a button and send off my electronic returns to both the federal and state tax authorities. I was also able to download PDF files containing electronic copies of my federal and state tax forms; saved these files and made printed copies as well. Included in the PDF files were copies of the 8453-OL forms. In most cases, the IRS requires that people who electronically file also mail in one of these forms along with your W-2 and other paperwork. As far as state goes, Virginia doesn't require that you mail in an 8453-OL form, so I didn't have to; your mileage may vary, depending on which state you live in.

Intuit has a web page which allows you to check the filing status of your returns. Once you electronically file, you must wait for your return to be accepted by the federal and state tax authorities; in each case, when your return is accepted, you are assigned a "declaration con