TurboTax 2003 Deluxe for Mac
Price: $50 (discounts are often available)
http://www.intuit.comIt’s that time of year again, friends. TurboTax Deluxe 2003 for Mac contains changes and improvements that will affect both how you enter your financial data and how you look ahead to potential tax savings for 2004 and beyond. Newcomers to TurboTax initially will be perplexed and annoyed at the powerful application’s way of proceeding through its Easy Step data entry process. They’ll agree with me that upon completion the labyrinthian journey was worthwhile.
I have reviewed and commented extensively on Intuit’s TurboTax and MacInTax. All my earlier postings are available via our MyMac.com archives. Annual familiarity with this software gives me an advantage during the data entry process, but leads me to skip over or blast through sections that might hinder you.
Competition is limited, yet intense, for your tax filing assistance fees. Intuit intends to be a one-stop shop, with individual and business applications that potentially could serve most U. S. citizens. If my tax filing ordeal wasn’t such a personal black hole for a lovely Sunday in March, I would try several different methods offered by this company and others, including all-online filing.
Here are the modest requirements for using TurboTax Deluxe 2003 on your Macintosh:
Memory—32MB RAM required
HD Storage—Requires approximately 95 MB hard disk space
Connection—28.8 kbps required for online features, product updates and electronic filing
Printer—Most Mac-compatible inkjet or any Mac-compatible laser printer with at least 1 MB of memory
Operating System—Mac OS 8.6- Mac OS 9.x; Mac OS X (10.1 or greater)
Monitor—640×480 screen resolution, 800×600 recommended
CD-ROM Speed—2X CD-ROM required, 4X recommended
Browser—QuickTime 6 or greater is required to view videos
I took extensive notes during the three hours I devoted to installing, examining, and using this year’s TurboTax. Everything went smoothly, which is a relief. Product updates consume a nominal quantity of time over a broadband Internet connection, but may require hours via a phone line. I glanced through Gene Steinberg’s terrific new title, Mac OS X 10.3 Panther Little Black Book from Paraglyph Press whenever downloads or update installers took more than a few seconds.
We reviewers have access to an online press kit, but you’re not missing much that won’t become obvious during the taxing process. I have a few minor gripes about TurboTax 2003, some of which carry over from previous years’ reviews:
• UNDO (Command+Z) doesn’t work to clear or remove data from individual entry boxes or cells. Why not?
• NAVIGATORS (Page Up, Page Down, etc.) are not active within Easy Step screens, requiring users to navigate only with a mouse. Why the limitation?
• MANUAL or QuickStart Guide is nonexistent. I understand that TurboTax is loaded with built-in help features, but how are beginners supposed to know what to do out of the package?
Here is some praise:
• SAVINGS are convenient, with free shipping and handling for orders before April 15, plus handy rebates for many purchasers.
• QUICKTIME embedded tutorials are presented with clarity and quality.
• CHANGES in tax law were substantial last year, but they are handled transparently by TurboTax.
• LANGUAGE within the application is easy to follow.
• LINKS for every imaginable sort of help are abundant.
A few tips from Nemo:
• ARCHIVE your tax report onto an external hard drive, CD, and personal email account every time you wrap up a session.
• COLLECT every possible paper and digital document in advance of beginning the TurboTax ordeal.
• TURN OFF your phone and stereo, so your brain and fingers will focus on the hours-long task.
• STRETCH every 30 minutes, and remember to drink some water and have a healthy snack each hour.
• PENCIL a check mark in the corner of each piece of paper you complete, then cross-check it for accuracy on a different day.
• OBTAIN your bank tracking number ahead of time, because you’ll need it for electronic refund transmittal.
This 2003 edition of TurboTax for Mac feels a bit more tedious than the previous couple of years, even though my financial situation (ugh) is mostly similar. I can’t quantify the experience, but I expect Intuit spent plenty of time achieving their goal of personalizing the reporting and filing experience for a potential tens of millions of taxpayers.
If I were not a product reviewer, would I still buy and use TurboTax? Yes, definitely. I understand its way of relating to me and my finances, and I’m generally comfortable with its procedures. With comprehensive tutorials, help links, Easy Step and Forms features, I’m giving TurboTax Deluxe 2003 for Mac our MyMac.com rating of 4 out of 5.
If you have questions, comments, or gripes concerning TurboTax that are not addressed within the application, post your situation below in our Article Discussion area. Other readers (or possibly Intuit personnel) may be able to dig you out of a hole, if you’re not in a crisis.