Quicken TurboTax Deluxe 2001 (formerly MacInTax)
OS 9/Classic Environment
Our opinion of this excellent tax preparation application is straight and to the point. If you are not using TurboTax (or its primary competitor) to complete and file your income taxes, why not? The process is easy and affordable. At this late date, you can stop reading immediately and get going with TurboTax to do your returns, friends.
Every previous year, just after I finished using TurboTax (formerly MacInTax), I received a corrected 1099 or similar statement, so this time I decided to wait as long as possible before filing and reviewing the software. You can follow along with me, to help understand what to expect while preparing your returns.
INSTALLATION (began at 3:40 p.m.)
I inserted the TurboTax Deluxe (TTD) CD, version 01.00D, into my iMac running OS 9.2.1. Then I double-clicked the TTD installer, clicked “continue” and “install” several times, as requested, and waited a minute while 113 items were installed onto my computer. I checked boxes indicating I already have Internet access, clicked “continue” again, and did a Restart. New to my desktop was a TTDeluxe 2001 folder and an installer log file, which I placed inside the main folder.
I chose to update TurboTax, and waited two minutes during the data download. Your mileage will vary; my connection was running at 248kbps. More waiting while all the new items installed, before clicking on “OK” and opening TurboTax, ready to proceed.
LAST COMES FIRST (now it’s 3:52 p.m.)
I started my tax return without breaking a sweat, watched the helpful QuickTime “welcome” movie, and read through the changes in federal tax laws. New features to this year’s TTDeluxe are a Tax Law Advisor, Instant Data Entry from affiliated financial institutions, for-pay personal return reviews, use of credit card to pay income taxes, and for-pay audit defense service. I won’t be using any of these features.
I downloaded my free Arizona state tax forms in under a minute, then saved my entire return as “John Nemerovski TurboTax 2001” on the Desktop. With a few more clicks I transferred my 2000 return info to this year’s forms. I didn’t have any Quicken data to import. Next I watched another QuickTime video concerning highlights of the Tax Relief Act of 2001, and you should also watch this brief movie.
TRUDGE AND CLICK (at 4:06 p.m.)
I plodded through the Personal Info portion of TTD’s streamlined Easy Step Interview. It would be nice to import electronically my dividends from appropriate financial institutions, but it was easier to enter the data myself. In future I will give this option greater consideration in advance of working on my taxes, because each organization requires a custom password setup ahead of time.
By 4:10 I was entering income data, W2 forms from my two college employers and one independent culinary academy. (I am both a music instructor and bread baking teacher in real life.) I didn’t have any tips or other earned income, nor did I sell stocks, bonds, or mutual funds in 2001.
DADDY MEGABUCKS (4:35 p.m.)
Time to enter my form 1099 income: interest, original issue discount, mutual fund taxable dividends and capital gains, plus some tax exempt municipal bond income. Be alert for several new reporting categories and boxes to fill in here.
I didn’t sell a home last year or take any IRA distributions (not old enough yet). Ditto for Social Security or gambling income. It was a baaaaad year for the Nemos in 2001, friends, with our annual income waaaaaay down. Wish us better luck in 2002!
PAID TO OVERFLOWING (at 5:13)
I entered 2001 tax payments. Unable to itemize, I’m doing best with the standard deduction of $7,600 for Barbara and me. No child care credits or any more data of this type.
We did overpay, which is a minor consolation, making us eligible for a decent refund, but unfortunately not substantial enough to contribute to Roth IRAs for last year. I chose to have the refund auto-deposited into my checking account, and not applied toward 2002 tax payments. I called the local bank branch to confirm last year’s electronic funds routing number is still accurate.
The time was nearly 5:30, and I had to quit for the day. My remaining process went quickly, but I wasn’t watching the clock.
NO HITS, ONE ERROR
Next morning I skipped the tax savings help features, which allowed me to breeze through Final Review much more quickly than in the past. TurboTax checked for any new software updates, and then ran an Error Check, found one, and fixed it efficiently. Second Error Check yielded a clean report.
I didn’t run the additional four tax assistance reviews, except to learn our 2001 income is the same as the national average for 1999. I was thrilled.
GRAND CANYON STATE
Before beginning the Arizona state tax review, I watched another introductory QuickTime movie and did an auto transfer of my 2000 tax info. I needed to answer a few basic questions to get the Arizona return rolling. We owe $$$ to our fair state, but nothing terrible. No errors were found in the state review.
Yet another QuickTime movie covering Filing Options, urging TurboTax users to file electronically for greater accuracy and a quicker refund. The electronic filing cost is $12.95/federal and $6.95/state, which is good value for money even if Intuit didn’t offer some coupon rebate assistance.
I created a digital signature and PIN number, printed out my IRS and AZ returns for reference, and transmitted them electronically to Intuit’s electronic filing tax center, which found an error in my PIN number. I fixed it, resubmitted, and sailed through this time.
I was asked to return to the program in 48 hours for official TurboTax acceptance, then saved, ARCHIVED MY 364k RETURN ON A REMOVABLE DISK WHICH RESIDES IN A DIFFERENT BUILDING FROM MY COMPUTER, and quit the software.
TWO DAYS LATER
Here goes. Let’s see if I made it. Time out.
TurboTax Deluxe is terrific software. I didn’t mention the hundreds of right-column HELP links for advice, support, and much more, because I barely needed to use them this year. Easy Step Interview is faster and friendlier than ever, and it is a pleasure to do my taxes each year this way. No complaints whatsoever.
MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5
Nemo’s MyMac.com “Q/D/S/V Standard” for all product reviews:
Q = QUALITY, including ease of installation, performance, stability, and general happy relationship with everything on my system;
D = DOCUMENTATION, both printed and electronic, plus appropriate website material;
S = SUPPORT, in the form of email, phone, and web updates;
V = VALUE, which includes both original cost and subsequent expenses