Tax Preparation Software The Good The Bad And The Ugly

The medium is​ the​ message,​ it's sometimes said. Think of​ Franklin D Roosevelt and his “fireside chats” to​ the​ nation. in​ a​ pre-TV era,​ the​ radio was the​ perfect medium to​ “have a​ conversation with the​ American people”. He could get his reassuring message right into folks' homes,​ and become a​ part of​ the​ family. a​ different medium,​ for example a​ grandstanding speech,​ wouldn't have got the​ message across as​ effectively as​ an​ intimate radio chat. the​ medium most surely was the​ message.

But let's come back to​ the​ 21st.century and something close to​ all our hearts: tax preparation,​ or,​ to​ be exact,​ tax preparation software. Unfortunately,​ this particular medium seems to​ be giving out mixed messages,​ although software programmers and vendors would reassure us that we can complete tax programs quickly and accurately,​ click “print” and produce a​ tax return destined to​ meet the​ IRS's requirements.

Seems clear enough,​ so why the​ mixed messages? One of​ the​ main criticisms levelled at​ tax preparation software is​ its “one-size-fits-all” approach. Its critics,​ businessmen in​ the​ main,​ ask how it's possible to​ condense an​ extraordinary number of​ codes and regulations into a​ half-hour interview process. Irrespective of​ the​ claims made by software programmers,​ critics point out that only the​ most general set of​ credits and deductions can be incorporated into tax software,​ which means that you'll be the​ loser. It's these sins of​ omission,​ or​ the​ questions they don't ask,​ which work to​ your detriment and the​ advantage of​ the​ IRS.

Imagine this scene for a​ moment. a​ medium is​ holding a​ séance. She's trying to​ put you​ in​ touch with the​ other side who also want to​ get in​ touch with you. She'll ask leading questions and,​ reading between the​ lines,​ make statements general enough to​ apply to​ anyone,​ but those present will interpret them as​ applying to​ themselves as​ unique individuals. a​ “plant” in​ the​ audience will bolster her authenticity further and convince you​ that the​ entire process will bring you​ good news from the​ other side.

How a​ charlatan operates in​ a​ séance is​ exactly how critics see the​ operation of​ tax preparation software. These programs are designed for all businesses but with the​ same basic tax deduction questions being asked,​ albeit modified slightly,​ in​ every case. you​ might think you're being treated as​ a​ unique individual as​ you're asked to​ state the​ nature of​ your business before beginning the​ interview process. This isn't the​ case,​ however,​ even though software vendors try and plant in​ your mind that,​ by purchasing their top-notch programs,​ you​ will be able to​ check all credits and deductions.

Believe that,​ say the​ critics,​ and you'll get what you​ think is​ good news in​ terms of​ credits and deductions. But,​ as​ with the​ self-fulfilling prophecy of​ the​ charlatan medium,​ you're only getting what you're looking for. you​ need to​ think “out of​ the​ box”,​ and hire the​ services of​ a​ professional who really can read between the​ lines to​ ensure you​ don't overpay your taxes. So,​ the​ critics' verdict on​ tax preparation software as​ a​ medium? - “I'll be getting in​ touch... with my accountant”.

For some folks,​ then,​ all tax preparation software is​ bad. if​ you​ think they're good then you're thinking yourself out of​ thousands of​ dollars. an​ active investor,​ running his own business and having a​ substantial portfolio of​ stocks,​ might disagree. There are very good programs available,​ either web- or​ PC-based,​ which can handle multiple entries very effectively. Only in​ exceptional circumstances,​ that is​ in​ unique tax situations,​ would it​ be necessary to​ get a​ tax accountant to​ do the​ job for you. For investors,​ the​ software or​ medium is​ essentially good,​ it's more a​ question of​ “means well but not quite all there”.

If you're filing straightforward tax returns,​ and perhaps you're in​ receipt of​ dividends from mutual funds and W-2s from your job,​ tax preparation software is​ readily available to​ calculate your returns quickly and accurately. Your returns are calculated,​ and you're informed of​ any possible problems. Good tax software will enable you​ to​ e-file a​ federal and state return for less than $16. you​ can happily tick the​ boxes as​ a​ unique individual who's not in​ a​ unique tax situation.

Things can turn very ugly,​ though,​ when the​ tax preparation software you're using doesn't provide easy-to-follow,​ in-depth help for the​ new or​ relatively inexperienced tax filer. the​ help needs to​ be as​ jargon-free as​ possible,​ and a​ good program will provide the​ necessary tools and capabilities enabling you​ to​ complete the​ return accurately. This means the​ program should have helpful drop-down menus and icons,​ together with a​ quick and easily-accessible online service. the​ best-documented programs should offer a​ combination of​ helpful customer service and useful financial tax tips and advice.

Unfortunately,​ using some of​ the​ free tax preparation software available,​ suitable mainly for folks filing simpler tax returns with adjusted gross income of​ $34,​000 or​ less,​ can be a​ self-defeating exercise. While some are fast and easy to​ use,​ with both interview-style and forms-based input,​ others are not. When you​ buy tax software the​ vendor often provides technical support to​ the​ purchaser,​ but this key element is​ missing in​ the​ free software. Users of​ free software tend to​ be less computer-literate and are,​ therefore,​ more likely to​ find things turning ugly. Their verdict on​ this indifferent medium? - “means well but has lost the​ plot”.

So,​ good,​ bad and ugly: the​ messages are mixed for tax preparation software. Take out the​ ugly,​ and most would agree that this method of​ filing your tax return is​ fast,​ accurate and practically error-free. For some die-hards,​ though,​ this software will never be the​ medium of​ choice for communicating with the​ IRS.
Tax Preparation Software The Good The Bad And The Ugly Tax Preparation Software The Good The Bad And The Ugly Reviewed by Henda Yesti on July 02, 2018 Rating: 5

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