Last year, TurboTax decided to introduce product activation. Because they are not the only tax preparation software in town (the other being TaxCut), they received a huge backlash from the community because of how they implemented the activation. They apologized and said they wouldn’t use product activation in the future. Because of there attempt, I decided to give TaxCut a try (viva la difference!). From the start, I had problems.
First there was the associated deduction software called DeductionPro. While it’s a good concept, the implementation is bad. The interface is poor, breaking the UI into a tabbed interface, each tab having multiple views, depending on which company you are looking at. Next, it doesn’t allow you to easily enter a reoccurring charitable donation, instead making you either combine them all (and assigning a date) or entering each month in individually. Overall the application felt immature and poorly designed.
Next was the TaxCut application itself. Like TurboTax, you have to buy the state program separately (free after rebate). Buying the State CD from my local CompUSA, I installed the Oregon return, or so I thought. Instead, of installing the state return, it enabled TaxCut to download the State version at a future date. Again, not a bad thing, but the readme for the State CD had the following line: “All final state forms will be available via download by January 31, 2004.*“. Of course, if you notice the little asterisk, it’s a reference to the following line in the readme “This release date is approximate and is dependent upon individual state’s tax form release“. Translated from business-speak, this means, it will be ready when it’s ready and not on any specific date. Checking the availability in mid-January it said that it would be available at the end of January. Checking the availability today and they now say Mid-February. Gotta love companies.
I mentioned DeductionPro before. One of the features of TaxCut is the ability to import the information you entered into that application. Good idea, bad implementation. I asked it to import the data and it tried, but it failed, leaving behind $240 worth of deductions.
Finally, after completing the Federal (which I’ll have to do again in “early February” when they update the form), I performed the error check, only to be presented with three errors. Considering that this was a simple 1040 form with no weird tax stuff, I was a little surprised. Reviewing the errors (which takes you to the actual form instead of the point in the interview), I was able to decipher that it had to do with some interest I had declared on last years taxes, but not this years. TaxCut had kept those entries without the amounts during the import. Once I figured that out, I needed to go back to the interview and delete those entries. A bit frustrating.
Since I’ve already spent the money on this package, I will use it to file my returns, but I think next year I will switch back to TurboTax.