So What Should I

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2003-02-12 Print this article Print

Do Now?"> So what should you do? If youre a long-time user of TurboTax, or of Quicken, is it safe to use TurboTax this year? Are there other alternatives? Well first of all, Intuit has made some major changes in its approach to SafeCast – in part, Id like to think, because of our dogged coverage of this important issue.
You can now upgrade a store-bought version of TurboTax to get a complete SafeCast uninstaller. That upgrade also gives you more flexibility when using the product on an un-activated computer. And by offering a completely unlocked version of TurboTax in October of 2003, Intuit has blunted another whole set of concerns about access to returns in the near and distant future.
As I said at the top, Im a long-time Quicken and TurboTax user. The tight integration between Quicken and the tax software really does make filing taxes much easier. For me, it would be a huge liability to move away from TurboTax, even to another fine product like TaxCut. Im Staying With TurboTax: (check prices) Had I been forced to use the first version of TurboTax, I would have jumped ship. The inability to uninstall SafeCast, along with potentially losing access to my return down the road would have simply been too much to bear. But with those two items fixed, Im grudgingly going to stay with TurboTax this year. Im still not happy about the problems reported by some users when they attempted to change a hard drive, or move an activated installation. Im also very concerned about the use of Sector 33 on the hard drives first track. So I plan on installing and using TurboTax on my second machine at home – the one my wife usually uses. That way if it breaks, I wont be completely out of luck. If youre a long-time TurboTax and Quicken user like me, you have a complex return, and can put up with some of the possible annoyances, Id recommend sticking with what you know. The ability to integrate with prior year returns, along with all your Quicken-based financial data outweighs the possible problems. But there are other options. Use Common Sense: If youre an enthusiast who enjoys building and modifying machines, dont use that machine for your taxes! Set aside a stable machine that wont set off Intuits DRM alarm bells. Thats what Ive done with my wifes machine. You dont need 3D graphics and 3 GHz to do your return. TaxCut Premier: (check prices) Remember that PC Magazine also gave H&R Blocks tax software an editors choice. If youre at all wary, and youre not concerned about integration with past returns, or Quicken, TaxCut offers a very viable option. It works well, and lacks DRM-style product activation. Tax Act: Although it didnt win any awards at PC Magazine, many of our readers have suggested it as a lower cost alternative. At around $10, it certainly is priced right! Weve got a complete review if youre interested in this alternative. Go Online: If your return is reasonably simple, and you have a broadband connection, dont forget the online options! Both H&R Block and Intuit offer robust websites where you can add all your return information. Beware, though, because prices rise on both sites after April 1st. A less expensive way might be to use 2nd Storys site, which costs less than $10 to file a return. For more details, take a look at our story detailing online options. In any case, make sure you print out a copy of your return for your records. Free Filing with the IRS: Finally, if you meet certain eligibility restrictions, mostly concerning total salary, you can file for free! Head over to the IRS site for more details on eligibility and how to get started. Get a Refund: I hope you will on your taxes, but if youve already purchased TurboTax and all these problems now deter you from using it, you should be able to easily get a refund from either the store where you bought it, or directly from Intuit. Nick Stam decided against using TurboTax this year, and received a prompt refund right from Intuit! Last Word: Lets face it. Doing taxes is hard work enough! Why does Intuit have to add all this fear, uncertainty and doubt into the mix. Change your tune next year Intuit, or I just may have to switch to Microsoft Money!

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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