[olug] Tax Software Opinions

Obi-Wan obiwan at jedi.com
Tue Jan 18 15:11:16 UTC 2011

I'll echo what Dan said.  I've been using a smallish, well-respected
tax firm (Watts & Herschberger) in Lincoln ever since we got married
14 years ago.  Jim Watts is good friends with my wife's former boss
(a lawyer), so she was already on a first name basis with him when we
started seeing him.  Our tax situation is nontrivial thanks to various
investments & companies we have a share in, and Jim always does a great
job of organizing everything and finding breaks that I never would have
caught on my own.  My wife brings in a plate of home made cookies with
our packet of tax info every year, which I'm sure doesn't hurt.

I think last year (2009), our total tax burden (state + federal
combined) was only about 16% of our gross income.  The "standard" tax
rate for our bracket should be closer to 31%.  That kind of break,
combined with freeing up all the time I would have spent doing it
myself, is well worth the $400 he charges us.

BTW, if you're getting a tax refund every April, then you're screwing
yourself by giving the government a free, 0% interest loan from every
paycheck throughout the year.  A good tax guy will not only file last
year's taxes, but also plan the upcoming year for you to work it out
so you break even with no return & no payment.  Better yet, pay the
minimum throughout the year, save the extra in an interest-bearing
account, and then pay the principal in one lump sum in April.  Yes,
it's a big check, but you're coming out ahead in the long run because
you're keeping the interest you made.

> I always do the free on-line stuff before I go see my tax guy.  It helps
> remind me of anything I may have forgot otherwise, plus it lets me see if
> I'm able to get to a close dollar amount to what they get to.
> I've been going to the same guy for the past 10 years, and each year his
> refund is anywhere from $600 to $1500 more than what I was getting on-line.
>  (My first year I had estimated we'd owe $1500, and we walked out with a $50
> refund after his $150 price.)
> Sure, they cost more than the $50-75 software options, but they've found 10x
> that in many situations.  Money left with the IRS is money I lost. :-(
> Dan
> On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 22:45, Chad Homan <choman at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Every year I think this comes up.  This year I am considering abandoning my
>> usual
>> tax guy.  So the question is what's everyone else doing?
>>   - Keeping a tax guy
>>   - Found some biatching linux tax software
>>   - Running XYZ in wine, works great (e.g. turbotax,  taxact)
>>   - I'm scared of wine, I use a VM for tax software (e.g. turbotax,
>>   taxact)
>>   - I'm not afraid of anything, tax online and who (e.g. tax slayer,
>>   taxact)

Ben "Obi-Wan" Hollingsworth                             obiwan at jedi.com
   The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the
     Giver of all good things, so if I stand, let me stand on the
       promise that You will pull me through.  -- Rich Mullins

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