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'tis the season...

I'm venturing this season to do my own taxes and was wondering what recommendations this board would have on which software to use, e.g. turbotax, taxcut, etc., if one was better than another, particularly for owning rental properties. I've had a tax preparer do my taxes the last four years, paid for by my employer because I was living overseas. Now that I'm back stateside that luxury is no longer provided as I will no longer have any foreign income recognized in '03. I don't think my tax situation is too complex, own my own home, own two rental properties in another state, charitable contributions, etc.

Any advice is much appreciated...
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I'm venturing this season to do my own taxes and was wondering what recommendations this board would have on which software to use, e.g. turbotax, taxcut, etc., if one was better than another, particularly for owning rental properties. I've had a tax preparer do my taxes the last four years, paid for by my employer because I was living overseas. Now that I'm back stateside that luxury is no longer provided as I will no longer have any foreign income recognized in '03. I don't think my tax situation is too complex, own my own home, own two rental properties in another state, charitable contributions, etc.

While your situation isn't too complex for retail tax prep software, I would generally recommend that anyone with rental properties see a tax professional. There are lots of ways to screw up.

Ira
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I use Turbotax. For last 2 years I've had all the normal deductions, including rental property and refinances. Granted, it is straight froward, BUT, time consuming as you need to be very careful in what you can and cannot claim, plus, calculating basis can be difficult. I just take it slow when I get to the rental property, have all my paperwork ready and organized, review all documents and check my totals, along with keeping ALL notes and calculations (side sheet with breakdowns). Once you have determined the basis correctly, the hardest part is the appropriate finance charges and other amounts that can be either deducted in full, or amortized over the term of the loan. Either way, having all the paperwork available, plus previous years returns, makes it straight forward.

I doing doing my taxes. I don't really want to pay somebody to do exactly what I can do. Others will disagree, but, I believe that the tax programs are going to tell me all that is legally available to me. I need to keep records over the year, that the difficult part.

I mean, I even calculate the cost of cell phone costs to my agent or tenants...

cat
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I doing doing my taxes. I don't really want to pay somebody to do exactly what I can do. Others will disagree, but, I believe that the tax programs are going to tell me all that is legally available to me. I need to keep records over the year, that the difficult part.

Tax programs will tell you all that is unquestionably legally available to you. They will not tell you about areas which are in dispute between the IRS and taxpayers/preparers because the software companies don't want to be liable if the final decision goes the IRS's way. If you follow the instructions in your tax prep program and input all of your data honestly and completely you will not underpay your taxes... but you may end up overpaying.

Ira
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Tax programs will tell you all that is unquestionably legally available to you. They will not tell you about areas which are in dispute between the IRS and taxpayers/preparers because the software companies don't want to be liable if the final decision goes the IRS's way.

As a general rule, I would agree that that's probably true. But... what are they fighting over that would be so significant (as in, significant enough to pay the tax preparer's fees and then some) that we couldn't learn of here, or on MoneyCentral, or some other money site? I think there must be resources besides tax professionals where this information could be found.
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