The countdown is on to either file your taxes by April 16 or ask for an extension to October 15. Yet if you haven't gotten your tax forms done by now, and you lack either the time or the expendable cash to visit a human tax professional, there are online and PC software solutions out there to help. Which one is best for you?
Over the past couple of months, NotebookReview has taken an in-depth look at consumer and small business tax prep solution sets from the three leading names in this category: Intuit's TurboTax, 2nd Story Software's TaxACT, and H&R Block At Home. Now that the final filing hour is near, maybe you'd like a refresher.
As you'll see below, the differences between PC tax prep solutions isn't all that considerable. Each company lets you put together your return either online or on your computer. On the paid software side, each presents you with a range of solutions at different price points. If it isn't that feasible at this late date to run to the store, you can download any of the software packages from the Web.
The tax prep solutions vary, though, according to smaller nuances around costs and special features. So let's start drilling down; here's a quick rundown of offerings that can ease the process of beating the deadline, with links to full reviews which will fill you in on all the details.
Intuit's TurboTax, the market leader, is available in paid software editions for both Microsoft Windows PCs and Apple Macs. Like their rivals on the paid side, these software packages step you through the filing process from start to finish, giving you guidance on tax deductions and depreciation matters which can help to lower your tax or bring you a higher return.
Pricing for TurboTax software is relatively hefty. Like many other tax prep providers, however, TurboTax also offers an online "Free File" program for taxpayers meeting specific eligibility requirements.
2nd Story Software's TaxACT is much less costly than TurboTax, edging up to only $12.95 for the full-fledged "Deluxe" edition. In another point of distinction, you can save time on this year's tax returns by importing previous returns into TaxACT from any number of other software programs.
Also, if you're one of the many people impacted by casualty losses from hurricanes or other bad weather during 2011, TaxACT makes it particularly easy to find out the ways in which the law has changed that could help to mitigate your loss.
H&R Block At Home also tends to be less expensive than TurboTax, although costs for state returns and online filing can be steep.
While H&R's tax prep software doesn't provide quite as much hand-holding as other products, it contains some very convenient features. These include a vertical column on the right-hand corner of the screen, which keeps track of refund/payment status, along with buttons on the bottom of the screen for the Personal Tax Guide and for asking a tax question.
How About Using Your iPad, Too?
By the way, are you interested in using your iPad to help out with your tax returns, too? If so, click on over to one of our sister sites, TabletPCReview, to check out a roundup of tax apps for iPads.
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