Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day and Adventures in eFiling

I just finished up filing my federal income tax -- did the TurboTax efile this year. In all, I have to say, it's pretty cool. For the most part it was fairly streamlined -- it walked me through a straightforward series of questions, and when the time came to send it it, the software enabled me to send the return straight to the IRS (via Intuit). I'll miss my last minute rush to the post office, but I love the lack of papers.

However, as a branded product, I have to give TurboTax mixed reviews. For the most part it was pretty straightforward, but one of the things that I really hate about it is the way that they run sort of a version of bait-and-switch-ware. What I mean by that is -- it asks you a series of questions about your expenses, then after you get through a couple of them, it usually gets to a point where it says, "dude, your stuff looks more complicated. You might need TurboTax Home Business Deluxe. Would you like to download that now?" In one respect, you could call it cross selling or upselling, but when you're sitting on the hook trying to crank through calculating one of your biggest bills of the year, there's nothing worse than the squirming feeling you get, wondering whether you're missing something essential.

The other one that's fun it the audit warning index -- how risky is your return? So, on the one hand, it's nice to have this statistical meter that helps you understand what kinds of things that you might be doing that "risk an audit". However, it also leaves you feeling like, "if I just don't say anything, skip this deduction, and take the one 'I'm-not-standing-out' dollar instead of the ten 'I'm-really-owed-this-but-you-might-make-it-a-hassle' dollars, I can have a more stress-free existence. Having the last ten years or so having an accountant put my taxes together, I never got that feeling once. Instead of the audit slot machine, the CPA offers professional certainty and peace of mind.

Anyway, good luck with your tax day!

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