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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Turbo Tax 2007 Review

This is a review of TurboTax for the Mac versus TurboTax for Windows. I've been a Turbo Tax for Windows user for years. This year, as an experiment, and since I had a Mac Mini, I installed the Mac version to see what the difference was.

The first two returns were for my mom and for Lisa. Neither were very complicated, though at least one involved the earned income tax credit. In both cases, I could download W-2s through Turbo Tax. So far so good. Both taxes were done in under 2 hours total (an hour on average).

Then I got to my own taxes. I'll admit that my taxes aren't the least complicated possible, but compared to another colleague who had to spend 50 hours on her taxes last year (because of multiple state taxes), I still consider mine easy. The first sign that all was not well was the investment downloads page. The investment download from Vanguard was straightforward, but the overview screen refused to show me the details of which investments yielded which numbers (capital gains, dividends, etc). This made it quite painful to use the downloaded results, since I couldn't corroborate the sells and buys with my knowledge of what happened.

OK, I know how to type, so I wiped out the imported data and entered all the data manually. This was fine until I got to individual stock sales. I entered all the data, saved and quit the application to get reboot my Mac for an unrelated reason, and then started up Turbo Tax again. To my surprise it refused to start from the saved file!

Chalking it up to user error, I started my return all over again and did my taxes again. The same thing happened when I saved and reloaded the application, this time, without rebooting.

I opened up Turbo Tax for Windows in a Parallels Virtual Machine and proceeded to do my taxes there. To my relief, not only does the Windows version of Turbo Tax happily load and reload my saved files (though it wouldn't load the Macintosh saved files, of course), the investment downloads page on the Windows version is usable, and saved me at least 10-20 minutes of data entry.

The moral: if your finances are non-trivial, get a Windows license and run the Windows version of Turbo Tax. This is another reason my next machine will not be a Macintosh.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the report. I was about to try the Mac version myself. On a similar topic, is Quicken for Mac still inferior to the Windows version?

Piaw Na said...

Yes. Quicken for Mac is ridiculously bad. I also only use the Windows version under parallels.

paul said...

Note that if you're a linux user, VMware server edition is now 100% FREE and happily runs windows XP or 2000 with pretty modest requirements.

Again, if you're looking to use quicken or TT and don't feel the need to reboot.

Eric said...

I'm also on a mac. None of the money software is good on macs. I used an online tax prep site (taxbrain) this year, which actually was very savvy. No problem with on it Safari either, which we all know can have some issues with some sites. Seems online is the best option.

Unknown said...

Yeah, but with a software license, you pay once and you never need to pay again and make as many filings as you want. With the on-line sites, you end up paying for each filing. For someone like me (who files for 3 people), the software license makes more sense. Plus the import from previous years feature really saves a ton of time.

DWallach said...

I ended up using TurboTax on my (Intel) Mac, and it worked flawlessly. I didn't start until late March, and the first thing I did was download all the updates. Maybe they fixed the bugs.

I haven't tried Quicken on Mac yet. Quicken 2007 on Windows has some obscure corner cases with investment accounts, where I've had to delete and reinsert transactions to get everything working properly. It's almost enough to make me want to try Microsoft Money.

billtech66 said...

QUOTE: "The moral: if your finances are non-trivial, get a Windows license and run the Windows version of Turbo Tax.
This is another reason my next machine will not be a Macintosh."

Based on my own extensive experience with Intuit, on Macs and PC's: instead of blaming Macintosh, I say:
" This is another reason my next software will not be from Intuit."

Piaw Na said...

Intuit does good work. Believe me, Turbo Tax has saved me thousands of dollars in both fees and tax savings. (Access to TaxResource's Tax Audit Protection alone is worth the price of Turbo Tax --- though admittedly I get my copy via Employee Discount) The Macintosh has does nothing but cost me money and suffering. Guess which one gets the boot?

Doug said...

Does anyone have any advise on Turbo Tax professional? I have an S-corp and have been using an accountant, but it's getting so expensive now. I'm wondering if I'll have any problems trying to do my business taxes myself using Turbo Tax professional.

Piaw Na said...

In your situation, I would buy turbo tax pro this year, crunch the numbers, and see how it compares with your accountant's. If it works out, then switch next year. It's extra work, but I think the extra peace of mind is worth the effort.

Ted said...

Macworld have this software a great review. I am using it and have not had any of the problems you mentioned. It save and loads perfectly. Actually, I'm very happy with it and impressed at the quality. It sounds like you just don't like your mac. Perhaps if you go to the local Apple store you can get help from the techs. I manage windows systems for a living and have only been using macs personally for a few years. It's different, but now I'm hooked. (and I used to HATE these things!)