MacInTouch Amazon link...

tax software

Channels
Products
Based on recommendations here, I began using TurboTax about 5 years ago, when I could no longer afford to pay someone else to do it. I have always used the "Home and Business" version that I pick up at Costco in January at a discounted price, as my taxes are a bit tricky, being self-employed with a house, kids, and a wife with a W-30.

For the last 5 years, I have filed a Form 4868 extension, so that I have up until October 15th to send my taxes in. Since I am self-employed, I make the necessary quarterly payments and never owe money on April 15th. If I have overpaid, which is always the case, I just roll it over to the next year anyway, so I don't require a refund and therefore have no rush to get my taxes in.

I found that when I do my taxes in August or September, upon first boot, TurboTax installs all the necessary updates and bug fixes. By this time, it seems pretty bug-free after all the earlier-in-the-year user complaints have been addressed. Since all these bugs get worked out before I start, I haven't had any problems with TurboTax.

If you need a refund earlier in the year or potentially need to make a payment, my method won't work for you, but it's been pretty solid for me. Each year, I also make notes and take screen shots so that the following year is easier and faster to complete.
But isn't there a penalty filing Form 4868 if you owe the taxes? If so, it flows down to state tax extensions.
 


But isn't there a penalty filing Form 4868 if you owe the taxes? If so, it flows down to state tax extensions.
That is correct, but I do the math beforehand and make sure I've overpaid a bit so I don't get hit with a fee. The tax ends up being about the same amount each year, so it's not too hard to guesstimate.
 


The IRS has set up rules for calculating estimated tax that allow you to escape penalties for underpayment if you follow them carefully. That's important if your income can vary widely from year to year because of things like large lump-sum payments for contract projects. The three primary ways to escape penalties, in the words of the IRS, are "Generally, most taxpayers will avoid this penalty if they either owe less than $1,000 in tax after subtracting their withholding and refundable credits, or if they paid withholding and estimated tax of at least 90% of the tax for the current year or 100% of the tax shown on the return for the prior year, whichever is smaller."

The safest approach is to pay estimated tax and withholding on the amount of income you earned the previous year, although you may need to pay 110% of the previous year's tax if your income is above a certain amount - I think $150,000, but I have not been able to find that for this year. If your household income includes income subject to withholding, a reduction in withholding can put your total tax payments below the required amount. That happened to us this year, so TurboTax went through its Penalty for Underpayment routine but recognized it as an exception and did not charge us a penalty.

Personally, I would not feel comfortable about requesting an extension if my income had varied widely, unless there was an emergency or some odd issue that couldn't be resolved. You're on safer ground if your income is stable and you overpay.
 


But isn't there a penalty filing Form 4868 if you owe the taxes? If so, it flows down to state tax extensions.
More accurately, an extension extends your filing deadline, but does not extend the due date for any payments.

When filing the extension, you are supposed to estimate the amount of tax owed and pay that with form 4868. If the amount you pay, plus your withholding and prior estimated tax payments is more than 90% of your total tax, and you pay the rest when you file, there is no penalty.
IRS said:
Form 4868

The late payment penalty won’t be charged if you can show reasonable cause for not paying on time. Attach a statement to your return fully explaining the reason. Don’t attach the statement to Form 4868.

You’re considered to have reasonable cause for the period covered by this automatic extension if both of the following requirements have been met.
  1. At least 90% of the total tax on your 2018 return is paid on or before the regular due date of your return through withholding, estimated tax payments, or payments made with Form 4868.
  2. The remaining balance is paid with your return.
 


I don't use TurboTax (or any other "tax software"). Instead, I've created my own spreadsheets for forms like the Social Security Worksheet, the "Simplified Worksheet" (for determining the taxable amount of pension/annuity income), and the Schedule D Worksheet.

I've also created a Form 1040 Worksheet as well.

I use these to do my basic calculations, and then submit to the IRS on handwritten forms (although this year I found I could use the IRS-provided PDF for 1040 to do my entries, then print it out for mailing).

It is necessary to re-check and update these homemade worksheets each year, as there always seem to be changes. But that works for me.
I use a similar system, but I use the free fillable forms so I can efile:

 


More accurately, an extension extends your filing deadline, but does not extend the due date for any payments. When filing the extension, you are supposed to estimate the amount of tax owed and pay that with form 4868. If the amount you pay, plus your withholding and prior estimated tax payments is more than 90% of your total tax, and you pay the rest when you file, there is no penalty.
I understand. Now will need to investigate if Arizona handles extensions in the same manner.
 


I'm a fiduciary of two irrevocable trusts and my own Living Trust and therefore need to file IRS Form 1041s for each account. I download forms from irs.gov and enter trust 1099 details in each 1041 and Schedule D (Form 1041) capital gains, print, and file. Does anyone know if there is a tax package that includes both 1040 and 1041 forms?
 


I'm a fiduciary of two irrevocable trusts and my own Living Trust and therefore need to file IRS Form 1041s for each account. I download forms from irs.gov and enter trust 1099 details in each 1041 and Schedule D (Form 1041) capital gains, print, and file. Does anyone know if there is a tax package that includes both 1040 and 1041 forms?
H&R Block Premium & Business includes 1041 and other trust-related forms (as well as personal income tax forms, such as 1040). I've been using it for several years to file 1041s and generate 1041-ES as well as the state equivalents. I haven't taken advantage of the built-in e-filing up until now, so I can't comment on that.

It's not perfect, but it's the only reasonably priced package that supports trust filings. At $60 or so from Amazon, it's miles cheaper than a CPA. However, it has limited documentation, and support is not terrific, so keep that in mind.

Bear in mind that it only runs under Windows, so die-hard Mac users will need to run it in a VM. I use VMWare Fusion running Windows 10 and have no problems.
 


H&R Block Premium & Business includes 1041 and other trust-related forms (as well as personal income tax forms, such as 1040).
I purchased that version several years ago because of its advertised inclusion of trust forms. That version was disappointing in that the kind of guided fill-in the H&R and TurboTax programs offer for 1040 forms was absent for the additional forms. What was included was essentially the same as IRS blank PDFs with associated instructions.

Has that changed for the better, John?
 


Versions of Open Tax Solver are available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.
Open Tax Solver said:
Open-source Tax Solver (OTS)
OpenTaxSolver (OTS) is a free, safe + secure program for calculating Tax Form entries for Federal and State personal income taxes. It automatically fills-out and prints your forms.

As in prior years, the package covers the most popular US 1040 with new Schedules 1-5 along with Schedules A-D. All of the Federal Forms and Schedules are generated from the main US-1040 program. - except for Schedule-C, which is done as a separate program in the set. The package also contains updated versions of State Taxes for California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts.

All fields in the filled-out PDF forms can be changed or edited with Libre-Office Draw.
I downloaded the Linux version and gave it a try to be sure it works. Having already purchased H&R Block, which I've used for years and which imports my data, I plan to use that application this year but will later re-enter data in OTS to give it a test. (Unfortunately, my state's return forms are not offered by OTS.)
 


I purchased that version several years ago because of its advertised inclusion of trust forms. That version was disappointing in that the kind of guided fill-in the H&R and TurboTax programs offer for 1040 forms was absent for the additional forms. What was included was essentially the same as IRS blank PDFs with associated instructions.

Has that changed for the better, John?
There's a questionnaire-style approach for the primary form 1041 and supporting schedules, so it's relatively easy to enter the data from a 1099, for instance. For some other forms, there's no UI other than "Open Whole Form". What I like about it is that it auto-calculates and completes all the NII and AMT forms with next to no effort on my part once I've entered the basic figures.

I'd say give it a try, and return it if it doesn't suit your needs.
 


There's a questionnaire-style approach for the primary form 1041 and supporting schedules, so it's relatively easy to enter the data from a 1099, for instance. For some other forms, there's no UI other than "Open Whole Form". What I like about it is that it auto-calculates and completes all the NII and AMT forms with next to no effort on my part once I've entered the basic figures. I'd say give it a try, and return it if it doesn't suit your needs.
Unfortunately, according to the H&R Block website, H&R Block Premium and Business requires a Windows computer.
 


I'm a fiduciary of two irrevocable trusts and my own Living Trust and therefore need to file IRS Form 1041s for each account. I download forms from irs.gov and enter trust 1099 details in each 1041 and Schedule D (Form 1041) capital gains, print, and file. Does anyone know if there is a tax package that includes both 1040 and 1041 forms?
I believe that TurboTax Deluxe Version contains both these forms.
 




Warning: TurboTax needs to be in /Applications for the patcher to work. Otherwise, it will fail to patch the script in the application but will not give an error.
I noticed this either in the 2017 or 2018 version of TurboTax (I don't remember which) on macOS Sierra, in both cases. Very annoying.

This wasn't true before that; I stored TurboTax versions in "/Applications/TurboTax 20nn" subdirectories since 2009, and it worked fine.

I don't know if this is due to a change in the TurboTax app or in the macOS security system.
 


I noticed this either in the 2017 or 2018 version of TurboTax (I don't remember which) on macOS Sierra, in both cases. Very annoying.
This wasn't true before that; I stored TurboTax versions in "/Applications/TurboTax 20nn" subdirectories since 2009, and it worked fine. I don't know if this is due to a change in the TurboTax app or in the macOS security system.
The patcher attempts to patch files in four locations:
  • TurboTax 2014 in /Applications
  • TurboTax 2014 in user Application Support library
  • TurboTax 2015 in /Applications
  • TurboTax 2015 in user Application Support library
It only gives an error if it fails to find a file to patch in all four locations.

So, if you don't have the application in the Applications folder, it may still patch the file in the current user's library. Or it might find 2014 but not 2015.

If it patches Application Support but not the application, I suspect it may work initially but fail when you try to reinstall or switch users.

What I did is let the patcher run and then manually copied the patched file from the library to the application bundle.
 


H&R Block pulled a marketing stunt this week that I find both helpful and disturbing.

I got a DVD in the mail that appears to be the full program installer, just like the shrinkwrapped disk you'd buy in a store. There's a discount coupon enclosed toward the cost of activating a license.

Last year I switched to H&R from TurboTax, which I had used for a good 15 years or so, because it was about half the cost and didn't mandate the latest OS that was only released a week ago. I already planned to continue with H&R this year.

What I found disturbing is that I got a DVD addressed to "my name Our Our Valued Customer at..." -- and so did my girlfriend.

Last year's software was registered in my name, but her only connection was that I created her return with the software. I haven't gone back to look at the privacy policy, but apparently H&R Block feels entitled to capture names and addresses from every return that passes through it, and to use that information for marketing.

This leads me to wonder: What other personal or financial information does H&R retain from returns, information that, of course, could be hacked.

#privacy #security
 


... Last year I switched to H&R from TurboTax, which I had used for a good 15 years or so, because it was about half the cost and didn't mandate the latest OS that was only released a week ago. I already planned to continue with H&R this year. What I found disturbing is that I got a DVD addressed to "my name Our Our Valued Customer at..." -- and so did my girlfriend. Last year's software was registered in my name, but her only connection was that I created her return with the software....
It also leads me to wonder who the target audience is. I believe I replaced the last Mac I had with an optical drive in 2014. Makes me think of all those AOL coasters. {shiver}
If you have an optical drive, do you think they're harvesting not only your name and address, but also your system configuration?
 


Last year's software was registered in my name, but her only connection was that I created her return with the software. I haven't gone back to look at the privacy policy, but apparently H&R Block feels entitled to capture names and addresses from every return that passes through it, and to use that information for marketing.
I buy H&R as an Amazon download. Handy to be able to retrieve again from my "Amazon locker," if needed, but given compatibility issues with ever-changing OS versions, a value of limited duration.

I never register my purchase with H&R.

I print my return and mail. Given our corporate overlords seem intent on harvesting every possible bit of data about us, I wonder if any have the moral courage to resist harvesting the enormous stream of digital data people send through their servers as they file electronically?

As a lawyer, I can imagine that with the very best of intent, advising my client, "Of course you have to keep a copy of every return that your customers file electronically through your system. How else will you defend claims you changed what was filed?"
 


High Sierra 10.13.4 broke a TurboTax 2014 and 2015 JavaScript file, causing the application to crash on launch.
Perhaps it's overkill, but I'm a fan of installing each year's edition of TurboTax in its own virtual machine, running whichever version of macOS was supported in the TurboTax of the TurboTax edition. That way, you can have some assurance of accessing the data and the app if needed, even after neither the app nor the OS is supported.
 


If you have to open TurboTax 2018 now (for reasons such as revising estimated taxes or evaluating 2019 tax scenarios), it insists on downloading and installing an update. The update would not install over the Thanksgiving holiday, but it worked later and I detected no obvious ill effects when going through estimated taxes and 2019 scenarios.
 


Jeff, I agree with you about installing TurboTax updates that became available even after I filed. Such updates have never caused a problem with my returns themselves.

But sometimes the update process itself fails, or never completes, or TurboTax fails to relaunch after I click the "Install and Relaunch" button.

For such situations, you can prevent TurboTax from forcing you to update, by going offline temporarily. Quit TurboTax, and either turn off your Wi-Fi or unplug your Ethernet cable.

Now launch TurboTax and open your return; it won't prompt you to update! Then reconnect to the Internet. You can then decide whether to "Check for Updates" if you want to, but you're not forced to.

Remember, this behavior doesn't "persist" between launches; to avoid being forced to update, you need to disconnect before launching TT, each time.

I have found that TT updates go more smoothly if I follow this approach. It seems that updates work better when there's already a return open, rather than if the update is attempted immediately after launching TT and before any return opens. So that's the advantage, I think, to being offline every time you launch TT, in case there's an update waiting.
 


I will be using Turbo Tax for my 2019 returns and will need to migrate from Sierra to Mojave on a 2017 iMac with a 1TB fusion drive. I am concerned about performance and would like some real-world experiences installing Mojave on an internal 1TB Fusion drive. As an option, I could install on a Samsung T5 external SSD.
I ran TurboTax 2018 on my 2017 iMac with its 3TB Fusion Drive under Mojave without problem.
 



I will be using Turbo Tax for my 2019 returns and will need to migrate from Sierra to Mojave on a 2017 iMac with a 1TB fusion drive. I am concerned about performance and would like some real-world experiences installing Mojave on an internal 1TB Fusion drive. As an option, I could install on a Samsung T5 external SSD.
I bought an iMac this year because TurboTax wouldn't run under El Capitan on my 2008 Mac Pro last year. I installed the 2019 edition of TurboTax Home and Business on the iMac's 3TB fusion drive, and it opened just fine in Mojave, although I won't actually be using it for a while.
 






H&R Block Tax Software Deluxe + State 2019 is only $32.97 on sale at Amazon at the moment. This is for the PC/Mac version with a physical software disc. Download versions for either Mac-only or PC-only are also available. The H&R Block software also states it is able to run on older versions of OS X, going back to 10.9.5.
I also noted that this package does not include state e-file. But at least the information on Amazon states that the state e-file is $19.95.

As I have not used either H&R Block or TurboTax, I won't speculate which is preferable.
 


Note that, while this version contains the state module, it does not allow you to e-file with the state, unless you pay extra (not sure what that amount is).
The extra fee for state electronic filing of TurboTax in Massachusetts is something like $30, enough that I print it out instead. I'm rather annoyed at the state allowing TurboTax to charge us for something that benefits the state more than us.
 


I also noted that this package does not include state e-file. But at least the information on Amazon states that the state e-file is $19.95.
Luckily, we do not have a state income tax here. As a result, I can purchase Federal Only edition for $22.97.

Want to also mention that for many, there are free options to consider. Recent events should make it easier to find them.
Ars Technica said:
IRS drops longstanding promise not to compete against TurboTax
The Internal Revenue Service's new agreement with the tax-software industry prohibits companies from hiding their free options from search engines and allows the IRS to offer its own tax-return software in competition against TurboTax. That doesn't mean the IRS will offer its own software, but the agency has officially rescinded its promise not to compete against the industry.

As ProPublica reported in April 2019, TurboTax maker Intuit used a robots.txt file to "deliberately hid[e] its Free File page from search engines." TurboTax subsequently changed the code on its Free File page so it wouldn't be hidden from Google and other search engines anymore, but at least five US states opened investigations into TurboTax's marketing and provision of its free tax programs. H&R Block was also hiding its free tax service from Google search using the same method, ProPublica reported at the time, but H&R Block seems to have lifted that restriction based on searches we conducted today.
 


Thanks for the alerts regarding sale price of TurboTax! Just downloaded the version I need, of course from the MacInTouch link. Not happy that I'm going to have to upgrade to Catalina before the next tax year, as I had to this past year with High Sierra. What is with this requirement ?
 


Thanks for the alerts regarding sale price of TurboTax! Just downloaded the version I need, of course from the MacInTouch link. Not happy that I'm going to have to upgrade to Catalina before the next tax year, as I had to this past year with High Sierra. What is with this requirement ?
Development cost savings for the publisher. It costs a lot less to develop and maintain a code base for one OS version than it does for every version that supports 64-bit executables (say). The libraries change, installation methods change, and multiple platform support inevitably introduces incompatibilities without lots of testing — something even Apple has stumbled on.
 



The extra fee for state electronic filing of TurboTax in Massachusetts is something like $30, enough that I print it out instead. I'm rather annoyed at the state allowing TurboTax to charge us for something that benefits the state more than us.
For those who live in New York or must file New York State returns, electronic filing of state returns is mandated and free. So if you buy TurboTax Deluxe with State (or any other tax software with NY state), there is no additional charge for filing the state return.
 


For those who live in New York or must file New York State returns, electronic filing of state returns is mandated and free. So if you buy TurboTax Deluxe with State (or any other tax software with NY state), there is no additional charge for filing the state return.
Would be nice if California did that...
 


Thanks for the alerts regarding sale price of TurboTax! Just downloaded the version I need, of course from the MacInTouch link. Not happy that I'm going to have to upgrade to Catalina before the next tax year, as I had to this past year with High Sierra. What is with this requirement ?
I just installed TurboTax 2019 on High Sierra, and the warning was that I should be on Mojave for tax year 2020, not Catalina.

For the record, Intuit says that TurboTax Federal 2019 requires "macOS Sierra 10.13" [sic] or later, which has to be a typo, since macOS Sierra is 10.12.
 


I just installed TurboTax 2019 on High Sierra, and the warning was that I should be on Mojave for tax year 2020, not Catalina.
Hmm, Mojave would make more sense, in progression, wouldn't it? Makes me wonder if I am mis-remembering, but now I can't go back and check the warning, since I've already installed TurboTax 2019. (That is funny – sort of – about the Sierra/High Sierra version number....)
 


Amazon disclaimer:
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts