Panasonic Youth

TurboTax vs TaxCut online

Its tax time again, which means its time to scramble to figure out the some sort of capable tax package for my increasingly complicated finance situation. Working from home doesn’t lend itself to the easiest tax situation, but I’m holding off on hiring a CPA for another year.

This year I tried both TaxCut Premium online and TurboTax Deluxe online. Given whats required of doing taxes, there really aren’t any big advantages that a full desktop app give you unless you really offline access. Its all a ton of complicated workflow and help screens, but nothing that should be very difficult in a browser. If you take a look at this extensive roundup of tax software options, going with the online versions are also usually cheaper.

Initial impressions with TaxCut were not good. The forms are ugly, they are obtrusive javascript or flash based, and keyboard friendliness is nil. Overall it doesn’t feel very professional overall. Its pretty frustrating when tab is broken and you have maybe a hundred different forms to fill out.

TurboTax looks and feels better then TaxCut overall, with most forms working a bit better with the keyboard and a more professional look. The workflow was also handled better, with very clear options to just keep hitting “next” through the options until you had completed all sections. TaxCut’s layout isn’t quite as clear in illustrating how much you have completed compared to how much you have left. Although TurboTax handled forms better overall, there was still plenty of spots where I couldn’t navigate from the start to ‘submit’ with the keyboard only.

TaxCut brought in my data from my 2005 return without issue, and the initial entry and income entry was easy enough. Some things that could’ve been carried over from 05 to 06 weren’t in TaxCut, while TurboTax handled it fine. Deducations were also a bit worse in TaxCut. In TaxCut, some of the menus for things like job-related expenses weren’t very clear, while TurboTax had extensive help and a lot of detail if you wanted to dive into it. TurboTax also included ItsDeductible, its own seperate tool to calculate things like donations to charity. It could be useful if you keep detailed records of your donations.

I gave up on TaxCut about 3/4th of the way through my return once I took a look at TurboTax. The interface is nicer, the help content is better throughout, and overall its a better experience.