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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.
Seems to be a trend... I just ran an install of MS Office 2019 and encountered a dialog stating "Requires macOS Sierra 10.13.6 [sic] or later".

The system I was about to install to was Sierra, so to avoid problematic operation and nasty MS re-install/activate issues, I cloned the system and applied the High Sierra update with fingers crossed before the Office installation.

I really don't like these unscheduled system upgrades the tech gods foist upon their customers.
 


H&R Block Tax Software Deluxe + State 2019 is only $32.97 on sale at Amazon at the moment.
"Basic" is only $14.97, and I have used "Basic" for the past six years at least, including self-employment, rentals, investments, and non-resident forms. I don't know how much extra it costs to add state forms. I used to purchase directly from H&R but they stopped selling to non-residents a few years back, but Amazon has allowed downloads each year, so I am set.

Every year the "deluxe" and higher versions seem to indicate that the lower priced versions do not have all the forms. I have yet to find any form missing from any version. Perhaps the more expensive versions have more extensive "interview" systems?
 


Typographical errors and terminological confusion by Intuit notwithstanding, could someone please state clearly, for the record, what the minimum macOS system requirement for TurboTax 2019 actually is?

(Perhaps I should just hold my nose when the time comes and install TurboTax 2019 for Windows inside a Parallels VM running Windows 8.1. Which would assume it's capable of accurately importing information from a TurboTax 2018 for Mac datafile.)
 




I used to purchase directly from H&R but they stopped selling to non-residents a few years back, but Amazon has allowed downloads each year, so I am set. Every year the "deluxe" and higher versions seem to indicate that the lower priced versions do not have all the forms. I have yet to find any form missing from any version. Perhaps the more expensive versions have more extensive "interview" systems?
Do you live outside of the US? I've been using TurboTax for my non-resident returns, but they really charge a lot now. I have some complications, such as rental income in the US, a non-citizen spouse, who is treated as a resident for self-employment tax purposes, foreign bank interest income, and a Federal retirement, on which OPM refuses to calculate the taxable amount (TurboTax does it). I'd like to switch, but I have yet to find another service that can do all that.
 


I recall Mojave being required for next year. Unfortunately, my iMac can only accommodate High Sierra, so I will have to get a new computer if I want to keep using TurboTax.
Just as we've recently discussed running older macOSes inside a VM for backward compatibility in running older applications, so, too, can you run a newer macOS within a VM for forward compatibility, running an application that requires a newer OS than your computer has.

For example, during tax season two years ago, I was still on Yosemite, and TurboTax required a minimum of El Capitan. I installed TurboTax on an El Capitan VM and completed my taxes there.
 


Do you live outside of the US? I've been using TurboTax for my non-resident returns, but they really charge a lot now. I have some complications, such as rental income in the US, a non-citizen spouse, who is treated as a resident for self-employment tax purposes, foreign bank interest income, and a Federal retirement, on which OPM refuses to calculate the taxable amount (TurboTax does it). I'd like to switch, but I have yet to find another service that can do all that.
Yes, we are outside the US. I moved from TurboTax a while ago, when Intuit did something offensive that I cannot recall at this point (there are a lot of things to choose from, if one wants to be offended).

I have no idea if H&R would do the retirement tax calculation but have had nothing that it would not do for me. (Actually, I have had it refuse to calculate one specific form about a specific tax calculation involving excluded income, and require me to do that by hand. My notes from that year say: "Line 44 calculation for 1040-2017 cannot be handled by the tax software due to 'Capital Gain Excess' (CGE) in the 'Foreign Earned Income Tax Worksheet' - Line 44, page 43 of 1040 instructions for 2017 - i1040gi.pdf." I used the Worksheet and a spreadsheet to make the calculation with no real issue.)

If TurboTax is a problem, maybe trying the H&R is worth the $15 to try. Then again, being familar with TurboTax is worth something, and TurboTax Deluxe seems to be available for $30 or maybe even less in a "basic" version.

 


TurboTax is now on sale at Amazon. I just picked up the Home and Business plus state for $64.99 plus state tax, instead of the list price of $99.99. (I went through the MacInTouch Amazon link.)
Thank you for the heads-up on the sale price, Jeff. I buy tax software every year (usually from Amazon) and have found that the price varies considerably depending on the time of year.

In each case, I'm buying H&R Block Premium & Business, as it is the only mass-market package I've found that supports trust filings (1041, etc.) Of course it's also useful for any personal or business tax prep. Unfortunately, it only runs under Windows, so I keep a Windows 10 VM set up in VMWare Fusion, which works just fine.

My experience indicates that Amazon offers the best pricing in late January and mid-March (all amounts are before sales tax or shipping):
  • 2013 version: purchased mid-March 2014 for $43.60
  • 2016 version: purchased early March 2017 for $54.99
  • 2017 version: purchased late December 2017 for $59.99
  • 2018 version: purchased late January 2019 for $49.00
Does anyone else have historic price data for H&RB Premium & Business?
 


Does anyone else have historic price data for H&RB Premium & Business?
H&R Block Business 2018 went as low as $40
H&R Block Business 2017 went as low as $33.99

It just depends on if you can catch it. If you want to look up other prices, look in your order history and plug the ASIN into camelcamelcamel. You can also set a price threshold alert in camelcamelcamel, so you might want to set an alert at the beginning of Nov. and wait for a low price to show up.
 


Do you live outside of the US? I've been using TurboTax for my non-resident returns, but they really charge a lot now. I have some complications, such as rental income in the US, a non-citizen spouse, who is treated as a resident for self-employment tax purposes, foreign bank interest income, and a Federal retirement, on which OPM refuses to calculate the taxable amount (TurboTax does it). I'd like to switch, but I have yet to find another service that can do all that.
Is there some difference in the federal income tax on CSRS and FERS annuities for overseas residents? For those in the US, they're taxed as any other income (other than the first 15% of Social Security, for those with total incomes over $34K).
 


Is there some difference in the federal income tax on CSRS and FERS annuities for overseas residents? For those in the US, they're taxed as any other income (other than the first 15% of Social Security, for those with total incomes over $34K).
I should have said, "taxed by the IRS." For US-domiciled federal retirees, state taxes vary widely. Some states have no income taxes, some exempt military pensions but not civilian annuities, some exempt all federal annuities, and some tax them fully.
 


Does anyone else have historic price data for H&RB Premium & Business?
Polite reminder: If you are willing to restrict yourself to Amazon prices, you could always enter the ASIN of any product, including tax packages, into camelcamelcamel.com to see a price graph for a product spanning years.
 


I moved from TurboTax a while ago, when Intuit did something offensive that I cannot recall at this point (there are a lot of things to choose from, if one wants to be offended).
There was one year when printing to a local printer uploaded your document to their site to prep it for printing. I immediately switched to H&R and haven't looked back.
 


I'm not happy with TurboTax policies or pricing, but I gave up on H&R Block because it was more trouble than it was worth, unable to handle estimated taxes and some other complexities of my taxes.
 


This year TurboTax desktop requires activation with a license key.
Product activation required via Internet. Install and activate on up to five of your computers.
Didn't Intuit try this once before (Tax Year 2002), but it was a fiasco, so they relented and removed the activation requirement? They had to publicly apologize.
 


This year TurboTax desktop requires activation with a license key.

Didn't Intuit try this once before (Tax Year 2002), but it was a fiasco, so they relented and removed the activation requirement? They had to publicly apologize.
Yup, I noticed that when installing it this year, and also recalled the previous fiasco. I checked news sources and not so much as a peep this year about the new activation requirement. The last time, though, in 2003, activation was relatively rare with, I think, Windows XP being the only major software to have it at the time.

I guess now, in 2020, they figured that with Internet-activated, subscription, and cloud software being so commonplace that they could reintroduce it without any uproar, and they're right. This will deter casual piracy.
 



Yup, I noticed that when installing it this year, and also recalled the previous fiasco. I checked news sources and not so much as a peep this year about the new activation requirement. The last time, though, in 2003, activation was relatively rare with, I think, Windows XP being the only major software to have it at the time. I guess now, in 2020, they figured that with Internet-activated, subscription, and cloud software being so commonplace that they could reintroduce it without any uproar, and they're right. This will deter casual piracy.
Well, you have to consider Internet-based activation an improvement from the bad, old days of waiting on phone hold just to activate a copy of Microsoft Office you'd already bought and paid for, on a new machine (that is, transferring the license key from an older machine to a newer). And (in my experience; your milage may vary), 50% of the time, the code in the CD package didn't work, and they'd have to issue you a new one.
 


Is there some difference in the federal income tax on CSRS and FERS annuities for overseas residents?
I don't think so. The problem is that the 1099-R I get from OPM each year has UNKNOWN in box 2a Taxable amount because a portion of my pension is apportioned to a former spouse. TurboTax knows how to calculate the correct taxable amount. I've never been able to figure out how to do it myself. The form to do this using the "Simplified" Method is here:
Form 1099-R Simplified Method
If the taxpayer made after-tax contributions toward a pension, a portion of the annuity payment has already been taxed and isn’t taxable now. Generally, if the starting date of the payments was prior to July 2, 1986, the Simplified Method wouldn’t apply. If the taxpayer used the 3-year rule, the annuity is fully taxable. If they used the general rule, refer the taxpayer to a professional tax preparer.
 


This year TurboTax desktop requires activation with a license key. Didn't Intuit try this once before (Tax Year 2002), but it was a fiasco, so they relented and removed the activation requirement? They had to publicly apologize.
This might be another reason to install tax software in a dedicated virtual machine. You can set up a virtual machine in VMware and Parallels (and I assume VirtualBox, as well) to use a static MAC hardware address, which probably will minimize the likelihood of running into activation issues a few years down the road if you need to run the software again.
 


This might be another reason to install tax software in a dedicated virtual machine. You can set up a virtual machine in VMware and Parallels (and I assume VirtualBox, as well) to use a static MAC hardware address, which probably will minimize the likelihood of running into activation issues a few years down the road if you need to run the software again.
And, it should go without saying, after you're done with your filing, print everything. Make sure you don't just keep the software's own data file, but PDFs and printouts of everything. So if you end up without access to the data in the future, you will still be able to manually get the information you need in the event of an audit.
 


One thing I've discovered is that even if you have retained the installers for previous TurboTax years, and you have virtual machines to run them in, it doesn't do any good unless you've also saved the last forms update. TurboTax updates are only available for a couple of years.

This is exacerbated by the unavailability of offline "manual" updates for TurboTax for Mac -- the only update is online, unlike for the Windows product. I've been zipping up the TurboTax application after each update.
 


One thing I've discovered is that even if you have retained the installers for previous TurboTax years, and you have virtual machines to run them in, it doesn't do any good unless you've also saved the last forms update. TurboTax updates are only available for a couple of years.

This is exacerbated by the unavailability of offline "manual" updates for TurboTax for Mac -- the only update is online, unlike for the Windows product. I've been zipping up the TurboTax application after each update.
I noticed the updating process was problematic for last year's TurboTax over the Thanksgiving weekend, when I was trying to refine my estimated taxes. It forced me to upgrade last year's version by offering no alternative to the UPDATE button, which popped when Turbotax opened, but the install would not work on any of several tries. I tried again in early December and -- to my surprise -- it worked.

Tax software is becoming a very fragile system that tends to break if you try to do anything out of the ordinary. It's also hard to figure out what is going on inside after all the changes in tax law. It makes me think of the family member whose accountant essentially had a breakdown, locking up his office about April 1 with all of his clients' tax records inside and vanishing for a few weeks, leaving his clients on the hook for late fees.
 


We'll be first-time TurboTax users this year. We have a friend who has lots of experience with TurboTax, who says she will be able to walk us through any problems we might have. However, she uses Windows and we use Macs.

Are there any major differences between the Mac and Windows versions, or is the experience identical?
 


We'll be first-time TurboTax users this year...
Are there any major differences between the Mac and Windows versions, or is the experience identical?
I've been using TurboTax annually for as long as I can remember... even back when it was "MacInTax." Although I've never been a Windows user, I just want to say that I've found the Mac software extremely user friendly through the years. Perhaps there will be a few interface differences, but I think you'll discover you'll just "go with the flow," particularly if you opt (as I do) to proceed through the full questionnaire.

After I'm done with the questionnaire, I poke around some of the key forms to verify that entries seem correct to me, but I'm not a tax expert, just an "ordinary" user. In all the years/decades I've used it, I've never even once had a problem caused by the software (only a small handful of problems that were "taxpayer error").

I agree with others in this thread that it's important to preserve PDFs (and/or printouts) of your final work product with TurboTax. Although I have retained the software with each year's paper files, I'm not confident that software will ever run again in the future, since both TurboTax and Apple update their systems annually. I retain PDFs of both my "final" return and my "return-as-filed" (electronically), which includes the electronic-filing receipt and IRS confirmation.
Good luck!
 


I had the experience of not being able to load the last tax return I prepared with TaxCut on Windows, even though I had the install CD. The old Windows laptop booted, then spent a good part of a day getting updates. TaxCut (now H&R) installed but wouldn't open my return, because it lacked the state module that H&R only provides through downloads that are no longer available online.

I'd intended to check my 2018 return against OpenTaxSolver, but doing that slipped off my to-do list. I've just re-downloaded OpenTaxSolver 2018 and added it back to my to-dos partly to check results against H&R, partly to see if it is structured so it won't stop running as OS versions change.

For certain, there's no DRM, so no possible DRM verification.
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.
Unfortunately, OpenTaxSolver only provides forms for: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts. Downloads are currently available for years 2005 > 2018 with 2019 "under construction."

I find this statement in the OpenTaxSolver FAQ appealing:
In comparison with closed-commercial software, you have no way of reviewing what they do with your data... OTS does not do any web transactions, or phone home, like commercial packages do. All your data stays on your machine. (In a place where only you can access, delete or encrypt it.)
 


One general warning on TurboTax and H&R Block: if you don't carefully follow the interview format the way they expect you to, they can miss things or do something unexpected. I have run into that problem several times when I started to do my returns early with only partial information or had to go back and make changes. This can happen if you receive some 1099s late, or have to make changes for other reasons. It's also easy to miss things in the interview process, like checking items in a list of deductions that were carried forward from last year. That's why I find it very important to make rough calculations and compare this year's results with last years to make sure all the numbers make sense.
 



There was one year when printing to a local printer uploaded your document to their site to prep it for printing. I immediately switched to H&R and haven't looked back.
We quit TurboTax after a data breach that resulted in our info being used to file a fake federal return. Only after we filed a return with tax due did the IRS become aware of the issue, and now we have to use a unique tax identifier number each year.

#security #identitytheft
 


We quit TurboTax after a data breach that resulted in our info being used to file a fake federal return. Only after we filed a return with tax due did the IRS become aware of the issue, and now we have to use a unique tax identifier number each year.
To be fair, the reported TurboTax data breaches were due to "credential stuffing", rather than a security breach at Intuit.
Newsweek said:
Credential stuffing is where the attackers take the userids/email and password combinations from data breaches and try them on other websites. For example, a user uses myname@mymail with password reallysecret in multiple places, including Radio Shack and TurboTax. Radio Shack suffers a data breach and all of their customer's userids and passwords are sold on the dark web. The attacker tries myname@mymail & reallysecret on other sites, and is able to get in to TurboTax online.

The lessons are 1) don't reuse passwords, and 2) use multi-factor authentication if available. I think TurboTax online now has MFA as an option.

Also, another IRS attack is to sign up for prior-year transcript access before the actual taxpayer creates the userid and password, using data from other breaches. It is a good idea to sign up at irs.gov even if you don't need it, to establish your own ID and password and block other sign-ups.

#security #identitytheft
 



To be fair, the reported TurboTax data breaches were due to "credential stuffing", rather than a security breach at Intuit.
Credential stuffing is where the attackers take the userids/email and password combinations from data breaches and try them on other websites. For example, a user uses myname@mymail with password reallysecret in multiple places, including Radio Shack and TurboTax. Radio Shack suffers a data breach and all of their customer's userids and passwords are sold on the dark web. The attacker tries myname@mymail & reallysecret on other sites, and is able to get in to TurboTax online.

The lessons are 1) don't reuse passwords, and 2) use multi-factor authentication if available. I think TurboTax online now has MFA as an option.

Also, another IRS attack is to sign up for prior-year transcript access before the actual taxpayer creates the userid and password, using data from other breaches. It is a good idea to sign up at irs.gov even if you don't need it, to establish your own ID and password and block other sign-ups.
Appreciate the info, so checked password used with TurboTax in 2016, and it was a very uncommon and singular use of a password with a very unique character at the end, so not exactly sure what may have happened.
 


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