Update: Yes, I’m aware that ads for TurboTax are showing up on this article occasionally, and I think it’s awesome :)
Tax time is definitely a pain.
The U.S. tax code is a lengthy document (over 50,000 pages at last count) that few people can really understand (including our current Secretary Of The Treasury which is somewhat frightening).
It’s riddled with puzzling (and at times hilarious) questions such as these gems which I encountered over the weekend:
Did you rent a farm and receive part of the crop instead of cash for the rent?
Why yes I did! I’m sure glad someone at the IRS thought to include this question otherwise I might have missed it. And this one:
Enter the amount of any gambling losses, but only to the extent of gambling winnings. It is important to keep an accurate diary or similar record of your gambling winnings and losses.
Umm….ok, nice to see the government giving gambling advice.
But I guess I can’t get too upset at the government acting very…well, government like. They don’t know any better.
But a private company…well that’s another story. And this is what I always found especially infuriating about Intuit’s TurboTax product. It’s not just that it’s a bad piece of software - it’s that it’s bad yet so darn successful!
It gets TONS of negative reviews on Amazon.com, but since there are over 40 different versions listed (they put up new ones each year) their bad reviews keep getting pushed down.
It has “designed obsolescence” - which means they went out of their way to break it every year so you’d have to buy it again.
It’s user interface looks like it was designed by programmers and accountants instead of normal people.
This is why I was so excited to see someone finally come along and clean TurboTax’s clock.
The last two years I’ve used TaxACT.com and it is a breath of fresh air. It is fast, clean, simple, and makes sense out of incomprehensible IRS documents (perhaps their most impressive feat).
By the way, I’m not getting paid to recommend them. They are just that awesome that I wanted to tell people about it.
Best of all, it is way cheaper than TurboTax. Filing your federal return is FREE. If you want to do a state return it’s just $9.95.
Overall, I’m so impressed with these guys - they nailed a great freemium product, probably put up with TONS of hassle getting it to work with the IRS, and have a product that really beats the pants off TurboTax.
Until next time, keep breaking free! Brian Armstrong
P.S. Doing your taxes is way easier if you’ve been doing your financial statements each month!