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What Tax Software Do You Use?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the it's-about-that-time-again dept.

Software 202

r_jensen11 asks: "I know this topic has been asked at least once before, but seeing as how 6 years have passed, I figured the question is due again. It's about that time of the year again when we find out how much we owe Uncle Sam (or as in my case, how much Uncle Sam owes me). Software has changed drastically in the past 6 years, since the previous query I found on Slashdot, as well as many tax rules. Does anyone here use tax software other than TurboTax and TaxCut? I know that there are also online forms I can fill out, but which ones are accessible to people that use OSes other than Windows and Mac OS X? I'd preferably use a program that I can use off-line and store my information locally instead of using eforms, but if I have to resort to eforms, which ones should I investigate and which ones should I stay far away from?"

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i'm old school (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17691984)

It's still pen and paper for me, just like d&d.

Re:i'm old school (1)

Menelkir (899602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692030)

I need to assume that pen & paper works better. But like ad&d and gurps.

Re:i'm old school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692034)

Just don't fail your spot check.

me too (5, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692458)

It's still pen and paper for me

Sure, but it's easier to get the forms with a browser and KPDF than it is to drive to the library. Also, it's easier to add the stuff up with gnumeric than it is to use a calculator. After that, the check's in the mail.

Of course, all of it's a stupid curse. Uncle Sam knows exactly what you made and has the resources to present it to you over the web. Taxes should be as easy as going to a web site and choosing between "I agree" and "I have something else to report" then doing it.

I'm going to continue to use paper as long as Uncle Sam does, mostly because the programs made to do taxes have proved themselves less than trustworthy.

H & R Block (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692008)

Have an accountant do your taxes. They're cross platform, less error prone, and in many cases charge about the same price as popular tax prep software costs.

Re:H & R Block (3, Informative)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692108)

"Have an accountant do your taxes. They're cross platform, less error prone, and in many cases charge about the same price as popular tax prep software costs."

As complicated as the US tax code is, this is the BEST advice for anyone above the poverty level. It is also why our tax code will not be reformed. There are way too many accountants out there who make too much money on handling taxes, and they support the candidates who will keep the status quo. Tax reform is very much needed in the US. I lean towards a flat tax or national sales tax.

Re:H & R Block (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692496)

As complicated as the US tax code is, this is the BEST advice for anyone above the poverty level.

The qualifier "for anyone above poverty level" applies especially to H&R Block. For anyone needing more, a qualified tax accountant is often the better choice.

The analogy here is that an H&R Block preparer is like a poorly trained Windows sysadmin who subscribes to the policy of locking down users in the interests of job security. Or better, yet, a Help Desk employee who's memorised the phrase, "That configuration is unsupported".

My own past experience is that if you are indeed at poverty level, you can feel free to muck up your return without worrying too much. The folks at the IRS are quick, eager and duty-bound to rewrite it correctly.

Re:H & R Block (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17694414)

As a former employee there, I can say Block does not compete on price. They compete by being able to front refunds so people can walk out with parts of their refund.

The skill level of Block is a little erratic, but then there are scores of "1 W2" returns that are simply too cut and dried to make any serious money for the top Accountants. Block usually does a passable job on these.

I believe the tax code is not deliberately complex to suit the accountants; some of us get grumpy at being dragged into obscure situations that won't result in any great prep-revenue, but only serve to give a harried preparer room to get nervous. The good preparers put it on hold to dig/ask, despite pressure to get rid of returns.

The tax code is a combination of "Think of The Injustice to (foo) Group" and ugly language designed to stop sneaky schemes of IQ-180 tax sharks. The rules used by "normal" people fit into under 500 pages, as demonstrated by the retail tax guides at the big bookstores. If you own your own business, or rental properly, or play fast and loose on Wall Street, you have no right to complain about complexity.

Re:H & R Block (1)

Arceliar (895609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17693688)

Agreed, some tax reform ought to be done. However, national sales tax has a inherent flaw: it only applies to sales. Consider that 10% of the U.S. population has 80% of the wealth (and world wide it's far worse). If you make money faster than you can spend it, much of it is not taxed. Flat rate seems better for that reason, assuming there's some way to let people below the poverty line get a break somehow (food stamps, WORKING public housing, etc).

Re:H & R Block (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692130)

Yeah, H&R Block for me as well. My only mistake was in filing married, jointly.

Re:H & R Block (2, Funny)

woolio (927141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692334)

My only mistake was in filing married, jointly.

Hmm.... One can only wonder:

1) Was the mistake in filing as *married* when one is not?
2) Was the mistake filing *separate* returns with both marked as "married, filing jointly"
3) Was the mistake getting *married* in the first place?
4) Was the mistake in filling out the returns *jointly* (or not?) with (or without) one's spouse?

lol......

Swift move... (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692272)

...Ex-Lax. [lawyers.com]

It's better to use real accountants.

Re:H & R Block (3, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692382)

Note!!! H&R block people are NOT accountants!! Sure they have accountants for dealing with buisnesses. But the people who the average joe tax return at H&R block are not accountants and are just trained to fill out the same form you would if you went to their online website...

In Florida the CPA association filed a advertising complaint against H&R block because several of their commercials implied their people were better than accountants "We'll catch the refunds that your accountant missed" and crap.

Re:H & R Block (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17693028)

Wish I hadn't burned my mod points on trolls. This was my first thought. If you're filling out anything more complex than an EZ form, have a human do it. It will pay for its self.

Maybe not H&R Block, but a trained professional.

However I've had good luck with H&R. Go in the off season and you'll find actual accountants who are full-time employees. Go in April and you'll find it almost all temp data-entry people.

Re:H & R Block (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17693058)

Yup. I have my accountant, Sara, do it for me. Costs about $100, but it is well worth it. Another thing is to keep track of your money and expenses. Having everything on Quicken makes it a breeze to print, and then mail off the stuff to her when it is tax time.

How to pick your CPA for dummies (or geeks) (1)

darrint (265374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694006)

Since it's fashionable to bash H&R Block in this thread, I thought I'd do some good and help you all pick a good independent
CPA. I did and never looked back. I made one error. So I hope I can help the next geek avoid a pothole.

Assume that sometime in the future you might want to quit the day job and run your own technology company and make your million, a la Paul Graham. You will want someone to help you with money and advice.

Your CPA, if he's good, will open the door to untold riches and contacts. So while any qualified CPA ought to be able to handle your filings, what sets them apart is their Rolodex. Mine was only okay this way, and I'm not switching to another until I have a really strong reason.

So, all that said, if I were to go CPA shopping today, I'd ask more than one candidate:

"I can imagine that in the future I will want to build a company building technology in the [Real Estate] industry. [Fill in your weird talent or special license.] I'm going to come to you and ask if you know any interested investors. If I did that today, what would you be able to do for me?"

Compare and contrast the answers and you should find a CPA that will make you very happy.

Someday when you have that company and will get a SCARY letter from the IRS. You will immediately call your CPA and that's the last you hear of it.

why not just use the forms? (3, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692016)

Print the forms, get a calculator, and do the math....whats the problem?

Re:why not just use the forms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692214)

>Print the forms, get a calculator, and do the math....whats the problem?

That's fine if you've only had one job that year, and you work as a wage-slave for someone else, and you don't have a lot of investments. Otherwise, it's worth it just for the knowledge that you'll actually have all the forms you'll need on hand-- although the online help, ability to go back and correct mistakes, automatic calculations, and so forth are very, very nice to have.

I've used H&R Block online since the Quicken fiasco.

Re:why not just use the forms? (1)

4105 (819650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692368)

When I am finished with my taxes I print a hard copy. That produces a pile of paper 1/2" thick. I dont trust myself to fiqure out the forms required. Saving $30 bucks on software is not worth the risk. I don't think my taxes are very complicated either. I have one job, a mortgage, ira, 401k etc.

Re:why not just use the forms? (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692678)

What's the problem???? If you do anything more than endorse 26 paychecks, fill out a W2 and a 1040ez, there are lots of problems.

Once you get past the surface, the tax laws are not clear. Many of them use phrases like "reasonable proof" or "adequate documentation", or doing something by "industry standards", or "commonly accepted methods". You have to be an experienced accountant to have some idea what those phrases mean, and that meaning may change depending on which IRS agent you talk to.
This, IMHO, is one of the reasons that the IRS has not pushed for an explicit law that states that one must pay income tax. ( You would think that they would want a law like that to simplify the problems of dealing with people like Ed Brown ) If there were such a law, it would be found unconstitutionally vague. Then they would have to rewrite the whole thing.

Re: Explicit Laws!? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694592)

It's pretty clear - paying taxes is required by law.

Don't sidetrack down those alleys based on 1957 cases talking about "voluntary taxes"; that's a deliberate mis-interpretation out of context of the word "voluntary".

The basic idea is that people submit their information of their own accord; the IRS does not send "door-to-door" agents.

Re:why not just use the forms? (2, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694506)

I sincerely hope you're kidding.

Print the Forms, Get a Calculator and...

Figure out the partial reductions on child-benefits that interact with other parts of the code;

Disover that when you moved from one state to another you end up with Dual Status state returns;

You decided it would be fun to rent that side building next to your house to a guy needing a room, and now you have to figure out the depreciation.

Sorry; software is where Taxes are today. TaxAct, being free as in Beer, is a strong force on the scene.

TurboTax online (2, Informative)

cmeans (81143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692024)

As I recall it worked equally well with Firefox as IE last year. We've used it every year for the past 4 years or more. I'm not sure what a standalone program might do for us over the online offering. My returns are simple, but my wife has to deal with Schedule C, and investment stuff, it's served us well, as far as I can tell.

product activation - turned me away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692212)

An interesting ancillary question to the parent post might be how long any of us have stayed away from a company because of its customer-abusive behavior.

A few years ago as discussed in vigorous Slashdot debate, Turbo Tax played nasty games when they rolled out required product activation. I preferred their software up to that point, but they lost me as a customer because of their games, as far as I can tell, forever. There'd have to be some hugely strong reason for them to be able to draw me back.

Other companies which pulled anti-customer behavior which have lost me, for several years now and probably forever:

SONY - can you say rootkit?

Valve - product activation ... removing capacity for non-Internetted no off-line play using a store-bought, boxed game

Microsoft - hmmm, this list is too long - got a few weeks?

(PS, sorry, I have to post as an AC right now)

Re:product activation - turned me away (2, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692332)

Oh yea, I definately don't use turbotax software. But the online turbotax is really one of the best out there. Used it for the last few years. Lucky for me my wife got a job at a CPA firm last year, with a nice perk of free taxes... Hmm her boss gets to know EXACTLY how much she is underpaid.. :)

Re:TurboTax online (4, Informative)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692362)

TurboTax online

I think it's the same service (provided by Intuit), but other students or such like myself who have an AGI of $27,000 or less can go to taxfreedom.com [taxfreedom.com] and do their federal taxes online for free. The program this year is actually quite good from both a technical and interface point of view.

For state income, some states let you do free filing online via their own websites (like UT [utah.gov] ), but AL, AR, AZ, GA, ID, IA, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NY, ND, NC, OK, OR, RI, VT, and WV are all members of the Free File Alliance, and you can usually file taxes in these states for free online.

I'm a poor student, so my only goal is to get my refund back as fast as possible. Granted, my return is simple, but it took only 6 days last year from submission to direct deposit. In any case, I've found that there's no reason not to file online, especially if it's free.

Re:TurboTax online (1)

horatio (127595) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694430)

Ohio [ohio.gov] also provides a free and mostly painless site to file state taxes.

taxact (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692032)

taxact.com

already done and efiled - no charge if you go directly to their site. DO NOT visit the IRS site first or you will pick up a cookie which will make them try to charge you for efiling if your AGI is above $52k regardless of how you actually enter the taxact site later.

Re:taxact (2, Insightful)

rgbscan (321794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692072)

Same here. taxact all the way. I use the d/l'd version though. I just feel better about having my tax info stored locally.

Re:taxact (1)

fredklein (532096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692606)

Yup- Taxact.

I've already filed! And with Direct Deposit, I'm looking to get my refund in just a few more days!

Firefox online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692044)

I've used a couple of online services. Whichever works best this year with Firefox on Linux.

Hire an accountant (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692054)

A good accountant will do your taxes for you.

A great accountant will have a tax loophole named after him/her.

I hope you don't think (5, Insightful)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692062)

That Uncle Sam returning that nice interest free loan you have given them by over witholding is "Giving you money back". Biggest fallacy in the book, have the standard tax tables overwithold - then make people think "Gee, the government is giving me money - they are so nice".

If you are getting a large refund - look into talking to an accountant that can tell you how many deductions you REALLY need to be closer to break even. My goal is to hit somewhere between a 100 dollar refund to paying 500 dollars. I can afford 500 dollars, and I'd just assume be making the interest while the money sits in my bank account before giving it to the Man.

But PLEASE don't take my advise - talk to an accountant (IANAA) to find out what is correct for you

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692228)

That Uncle Sam returning that nice interest free loan you have given them by over witholding is "Giving you money back". Biggest fallacy in the book, have the standard tax tables overwithold - then make people think "Gee, the government is giving me money - they are so nice".
If you are getting a large refund - look into talking to an accountant that can tell you how many deductions you REALLY need to be closer to break even. My goal is to hit somewhere between a 100 dollar refund to paying 500 dollars. I can afford 500 dollars, and I'd just assume be making the interest while the money sits in my bank account before giving it to the Man


While this is certainly true, a $500 refund amounts to about $60 in interest (if you invest it in the market and get a decently-good 10%). Compared to the amount of tax you're probably paying, it's not a huge amount of money.

Note that significantly underpaying tax can be considerably more expensive, because the penalties add up quickly. If you don't have an accountant, it's probably best to err on the side of caution, though you shouldn't be getting a $1000 refund.

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692488)

I don't even begin to know where to answer this one....
Lets start with 60 being a 12% annual rate of return on 500 dollars
Lets move to the government only has your money on average for 6 months - doubling your annual rate of return
Lets just say that I don't plan on earning 10% in the market - some years I've done 25%, I've had a few years of "bad luck" in the market recently
Lets just say the 25 dollars I'd expect to earn in interest on that refund can keep me in WoW for a bit over two months

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

ximenes (10) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692566)

Consider that it is not the interest that one could earn on the hypothetical $500 rebate but rather the rebate itself that is in question here. If I received that money up-front in my paychecks, I could potentially avoid additional use (and accumulation of fees) with credit cards, make some purchases earlier or at all, and have a better idea of my available funds for budgeting purposes rather than receiving this windfall later on.

A lot of people have very simple taxes: one paycheck, one residence, no real property or investments, and don't itemize. If you know that your income is only coming from your paycheck, then you should be able to figure out your tax for the year ahead of time and get the withholding information right. Even if you receive a raise that skews things, it should be close.

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692348)

HEHE, cept if you have kids, you now get $1000 bucks per kid back even if you didn't pay that $1000 in. Getting $2k back more than I paid this year :)

Yea I really am that poor.. :)

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

parliboy (233658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692420)

Amen. Last year, some breaks I wasn't expecting (didn't consider moving deduction at the time) pushed my refund to about $150. This year, I'm estimating $15 in refund. And that's only because the telephone excise credit swings it around from me owing them $15. Good times, good times.

A bigger falacy. (4, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692492)

That Uncle Sam returning that nice interest free loan you have given them by over witholding is "Giving you money back". Biggest fallacy in the book ...

The biggest fallacy in the book is that fiat currency has an intrinsic value. Look up Alan Greenspan's little essay on the gold standard, and realize that you are not free without a secure store of value. The withholdings are a time consuming but insignificant part of the bigger scam.

Re:A bigger falacy. (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692912)

What are you talking about? Yeah, the value of fiat currency floats. Yeah, the government uses that to mess with the economy. It's called monetary policy. What's your point?

Re:A bigger falacy. (2, Insightful)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17693500)

I think his point is, rather, that if your currency is not backed by something of value (e.g gold) and then the value of it floats around, it is far too easy to have that value withheld from you in an instant, as you actually don't own anything except paper banknotes.

Not an unreasonable point, if that IS what he's getting at.

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692736)

I would think people know that already. Isn't the general rule to pay 90% of your taxes and owe 10% which could be sitting in a saving account earning interest?

Some people take the safe approach out of fear.

On a side note, the burden of income taxes affects us all. If the government is by the people, for the people, and of the people, then why don't we just have them change it to something less regressive? A few ideas...

1. A national sales tax, but not on the essentials. Might as well make used items exempt too thus allowing the poor to avoid paying it.

2. An income tax exempting the first $100k of adjusted gross income. Tax everything at a flat rate over that. Adjusted by reason of not wanting to tax disability payments, malpractice payouts, insurance settlements, etc.

3. A gross wealth income tax. Large exemption bracket to exempt a lot of people. Own more than $5 million in property total and you hit the first bracket that has a rate greater than 0%. Bill Gates would be at the highest bracket obviously and would probably pay like 50% of his INCOME, whatever that may be.

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17693294)

1. A national sales tax, but not on the essentials. Might as well make used items exempt too thus allowing the poor to avoid paying it.
You want a less regressive tax, then propose a more regressive tax? Under your scheme a billionaire could live a normal lifestyle and not pay any tax!

3. A gross wealth income tax. Large exemption bracket to exempt a lot of people. Own more than $5 million in property total and you hit the first bracket that has a rate greater than 0%. Bill Gates would be at the highest bracket obviously and would probably pay like 50% of his INCOME, whatever that may be.
Seems like a good way to drive rich people abroad so there'd be no money coming into the government at all. Then the poor would have to pay their own way.

Re:I hope you don't think (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694536)

"Seems like a good way to drive rich people abroad so there'd be no money coming into the government at all. Then the poor would have to pay their own way."

That might work if they plan on living in a third-world country, but most modern countries don't allow foreigners to become residents without following strict requirements. You can't just buy your way in.

Re:I hope you don't think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692974)

That Uncle Sam returning that nice interest free loan you have given them by over witholding is "Giving you money back"
So the government takes money from a citizen, then after a year returns it to him or her. To you, this is not "giving you money back"? Isn't that basically the definition of giving something back?

e-tax from the ATO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692134)

While you're not doing Australian taxes, I thought I'd mention one of the (rare) good things to come out of a tax office. Last tax return I used the ATO's [ato.gov.au] e-tax software and found it quite useful. It's not exactly pretty but is easy to use and works under WINE once you get IE 6 installed.

Re:e-tax from the ATO (1)

unfunk (804468) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692826)

Agreed. While it's not exactly the most user-friendly program out there, you gotta give it some leeway, in that it was produced by the Tax Office.
I've used it for the last three tax returns, and gotten a decent refund each time, and within less than a week!

But then, I suspect that the American taxarion system is substantially more complicated than ours is...

"At least once before" (4, Insightful)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692142)

I know this topic has been asked at least once before, but seeing as how 6 years have passed, I figured the question is due again.
It has been answered several times in the past couple years:

Of course its asked again... (1)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692936)

This is the tech industry. Things tend to change. Perhaps there are new programs/vendors out?

I personally have used quicktaxweb.ca (canadian) for the last few years, but this year i bought the desktop app because my household plans to file more than 1 over the free filing limit.

Just don't be like this guy (1)

the Gray Mouser (1013773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692146)

here [foxnews.com] and think that taxes are voluntary. The government isn't too keen on that apparently.

Re:Just don't be like this guy (1)

StupidKatz (467476) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692512)

Funny, as many people are of the opinion that the reason taxes are paid is because the IRS will send jack-booted thugs to kick down your door and shoot your dog if you don't. The IRS has never once disclosed what law compells ordinary wage slaves to pay taxes on their salaries. The ONLY gotcha is that most people "voluntarily" fill out a W2 and/or otherwise "volunteer" their wages for taxable status.

You know what the IRS said when folks asked them about the law? "We're answering them through enforcement actions." Gee, how nice of them. 'Bout time to give them the boot?

Re:Just don't be like this guy (1)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692542)

Are you serious? The IRS has an entire FAQ [irs.gov] on that issue.

Re:Just don't be like this guy (1)

LouisJBouchard (316266) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694382)

Please tell me you are not serious. The courts have ruled time and time again that wages are income and on other such nonsense.

In fact, this website http://evans-legal.com/dan/tpfaq.html [evans-legal.com] will show you the fallacy in the arguments of those like Ed Brown.

What he is trying to do is to start another Ruby Ridge so that Congress gets involved, people like the Brown's tell sob storied (Even though they are even robbing their own employees by taking their withheld taxes and not paying the government) and congress puts another leash on the IRS. I do believe that the IRS needs to hold restraint in some cases but not in this case. Those idiots owe more in taxes than I have made in almost 15 years of working. It is time that they pay up.

Re:Just don't be like this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692584)

No shit. When they pass a tax bill, it becomes law. Show him the law? He's seen the law and decided that in his universe that there has to be second law saying you need to obey the first law.

Little of both (1)

the_nightwulf (1003306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692150)

I grab forms from the IRS site and figure them myself. Then hit up the list of Free File companies [irs.gov] and see how I did.

This way I get my refund quicker, and I feel like I've actually used my head for something other than a hat rest.

How about... none? (0, Troll)

RagingMaxx (793220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692154)

Federal income tax is unconstitutional, and illegal. The Federal income tax that was introduced in 1913 was struck down by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions, as it is neither a direct or indirect tax as set out in the Constitution. The only entities that should pay income tax are businesses, but somehow the wealthy bankers that own the Federal Reserve Bank (yes that's right, its a privately held bank) have managed to ignore that for almost the last hundred years. There is no federal law anywhere that requires you to pay income tax to the government.

In fact, 100% of federal income tax goes straight to paying interest on lonas to the government from the Federal Reserve Bank. It does not go to public services, it does not go to education or maintaining roads or anything else. It goes into the pockets of the already disgustingly rich owners of America.

Simple solution: just stop paying it. If the IRS takes you to court, simply point out that the IRS tax code is not based on or empowered by any law. After all, for you to be committing a crime, you have to be breaking a law.

There is a very badly made film that raises some very interesting points along those lines called America: Freedom to Fascism. There are also many other sources of information readily available on the web, both for and against this argument. I am not a tax expert/law expert/terribly intelligent individual, but this is all very interesting if true.

Re:How about... none? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692226)

Regardless of the legality of income tax, lots of men with guns will eventually show up to put you in jail. So, you can just think of taxes as your "get out of jail" card. The only problem is that it's not free.

Re:How about... none? (0, Troll)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692304)

GP is correct, but income tax is one of those lies that is just to big to argue with. The powers that be simply will not allow it. There is just too much dependent upon it. Even if you found an overlooked 11th item in the bill of rights, in Thomas Jefferson's own handwriting, that said income tax was unconstitutional, they would not allow it. As P says, sooner or later people with guns show up at your door. And their bullets don't care about legal technicalities.

Re:How about... none? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692288)

Simple solution: just stop paying it.

Ok, so how do I get my employer to stop deducting it from my paycheck?

Yearly tax returns don't bother me, because the government always ends up owing me money.

Re:How about... none? (1)

nido (102070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692398)

fire your employer, disappear from the IRS's tracking systems. Cash and barter are your friends.

srsly. I've never filed a return myself, and haven't had one filed on my behalf since I used up all the college money my dad had saved. Had a regular job after teh college, and eventually filed a W2 with teh employer that told him to withold nothing, as I made less than $7k/year.

Be a small fish in a big pond, and it won't be worth their while to bother you.

Yearly tax returns don't bother me, because the government always ends up owing me money.

That's a funny way to look at it. How much did they take from you total, and what percentage do they "owe" you back?

Re:How about... none? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692516)

Be a small fish in a big pond, and it won't be worth their while to bother you.

It's automated. They will eventually. I thought the same thing not filing through a lot of the '90's because I hardly made anything. The employer reports to the IRS the SSNs they pay out to, regardless of the amount, and eventually the lack of corresponding filings will trigger a flag. Non-filing penalties are severe. I now owe over $20,000 to the IRS on less than $5,000 I would have paid in taxes had I filed those 7 years.

Re:How about... none? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692302)

An amendment to the Constitution cannot, by definition, be un-Constitutional and the Supreme Court has not (and could not) do any such thing.

Re:How about... none? (3, Informative)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692378)

Unconstitutional? There's a Constitutional amendment, the sixteenth, that explicitly authorizes income taxes, ratified in 1913. To quote:



The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.




Now, as most of our rights are guaranteed by amendments to the Constitution (like the right to keep and bear arms), and as most of the time when laws are struck down it is because the violate the terms of the amendments and not of the original articles (particularly those pesky first ten amendments), I think you're going to have a hard time arguing against the validity of the sixteenth amendment.



By the way, by definition, amendments have priority over the text of the articles - after all, they are *amendments*. Any discrepancy between an amendment and the articles must be resolved in favor of the amendment.


Re:How about... none? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17694248)

Ok .. so the 16th amendment allows a tax on income without apportionment. Where is the law that actually requires someone to file in our voluntary income tax system?

Seriously: I'm asking - where is it?

Re:How about... none? (1)

LouisJBouchard (316266) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694500)

It is common law actually. There are many cases quotes (see this site: http://evans-legal.com/dan/tpfaq.html#voluntary [evans-legal.com] ). The truth to that statement is that paying taxes in the US is NOT voluntary. The government has the right to use force to collect your taxes (including assess the taxes without your input and demand payment).

Congress and the courts however felt that the use of force would be unwise in most cases and as such, allowed the citizen the choice of being able to voluntarily comply with the tax laws. Voluntary compliance means that you present your data to the IRS, you determine what tax you pay, and you pay it without force. If you refuse to comply, then the IRS can resort to force.

Re:How about... none? (1)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692394)

Sorry, you are incorrect. The Supreme Court cannot strike down a Constitutional Amendment as unconstitutional. If an Amendment is ratified, it is in the Constitution by definition. And things that are in the Constitution cannot be unconstitutional. See Amendment XVI http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experien ce/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html [archives.gov]

Re:How about... none? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692554)

A Constitutional Amendment which was not properly ratified is unconstitutional.

Re:How about... none? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692690)

Crackpots have brought this through the Courts so many times that last time (Miller v. United States, 868 F.2d 236, 241 (7 th Cir. 1989)) they actually punished the plaintiffs for their "patently frivolous" case.

The tax law deperately needs to be overhauled. Bringing out conspiracy theories about how "It's not legal anyway!" just hurts the cause.

Re:How about... none? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17693562)

A Constitutional amendment can be unconstitutional if it conflicts with a part of the Constitution that came before the amendment itself. Income taxes were found to be constitutional, but the question of income taxes did have to be looked at by the Supreme Court.

Excel 1040 (2, Informative)

cxbrx (737647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692158)

Google Excel 1040 [mchsi.com] . It works for me. I blew off Intuit after their activation debacle [slashdot.org] . That and the fact that Office Despot consistently has lower prices for Intuit's products than Intuit's website. After Intuit, H&R Block's product seemed ok.

FreeFile (4, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692168)

Over two thirds of tax payers can file online for free. The IRS runs Free File [irs.gov] , which helps you to select a service to file through.

Most of these were browser and OS agnostic last year & a good choice for those with AGIs low enough.

Mod Up, people should know this... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692666)

This is part of a negotiated settlement between the IRS and for-profit tax preparation companies during the Clinton years. It, after all, makes more sense for the IRS to offer free software for the public to encourage everyone to file electronically and standardize everything, etc. More efficent for the IRS, and therefore you. But that would hurt some big companies (I'm sure you can intuit whom I mean). Thus a deal was struck a while back, which as far as I know is not promoted/advertised by the tax-prep software companies.

The result is that people who make less than a certain amount (Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $52,000 or less) are entitled to free software by the "Free File Alliance, LLC" (ie, the tax software industry). During the Bush administration, the # of people who has qualified for this has gone down every year...

The government believes that private industry, given its established expertise and experience in the field of electronic tax preparation, has a proven track record in providing the best technology and services available. In addition, the government believes a partnership with private industry will: provide taxpayers with higher quality services by using the existing expertise of the private sector; maximize consumer choice; promote competition within the marketplace; and meet objectives in the least costly manner to taxpayers.

FYI.

The joys of TurboTax (1)

akohler (997911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692252)

For the past 10 years, I have have been using TurboTax to file my taxes. I've been using TurboTax Online since 2001 (on Linux). I now use GnuCash [gnucash.org] to keep track of my finances and import the data into TurboTax Online. If you want more info, please see my journal entry on TurboTax Online [slashdot.org] .

For the record, though, I still mostly use pen and paper for D&D.

Re:The joys of TurboTax (1)

Skewray (896393) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692600)

How do you import from Gnucash? Last time I checked (about two years ago), there were no export capabilities in Gnucash. Did they add something new?

Re:The joys of TurboTax (2, Informative)

akohler (997911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692688)

Yes. It used to be not compatible.

Now there is a standard tax file format [gnucash.org] that a lot of software is implementing.

Quicken and other packages also import this. TurboTax will ask you if you want to import from Quicken. Just say "yes" and then choose .TXF format when it asks you. Smooth sailing from there.

Always found it strange (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692278)

That there's a market for tax software in the USA.

Are there other countries where such software would be worth it?

In the country I live in the income tax system seems simple enough that anyone who is too stupid to figure it out is unlikely to be making enough money to fall in the taxable bracket.

Re:Always found it strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692396)

Are there other countries where such software would be worth it?

Yes, most of them.

In the country I live in the income tax system seems simple enough that anyone who is too stupid to figure it out is unlikely to be making enough money to fall in the taxable bracket.

And what country is that? I tried to determine your country from your post history but you mostly spend your time talking in an authoritative tone about the US.

Re:Always found it strange (2, Informative)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692832)

You could live in a country that will supply you with free (not Free) software downloadable from the Tax Office website [ato.gov.au] , which walks you through the whole process, step by step, asking reasonably easy questions with decent, context sensitive online help to boot.

Then after establishing your bona-fides with them using details from a previous tax cheque/bill that was mailed to you, it all gets submitted online to them, with the option of a direct transfer into a bank account of your choice once it's been processed.

Beats the hell out of paper or the $70-$100 that tax people charge these days for a basic return.

Re:Always found it strange (1)

Dunx (23729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694274)

What a very amusing conceit, that only the US could produce tax law baroque enough to require software to navigate!

I know that the forms for UK tax returns are easier than US ones, but using software was still a better bet for me when I had to fill one in, especially since the online tool that the Inland Revenue supplied could not at the time deal with non-residents.

I was going to start ranting about the US tax code, but this is not the time.

hrblock.com (1)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692350)

Been using them for the past few years now. It's not terribly expensive (only $10 for the federal, then do your state ones elsewhere), and totally browser-form based. Works great in Firefox 2 on Mac; I don't see why it wouldn't work on Fx on other platforms (Linux, etc).

The best tax technology on earth (3, Funny)

svunt (916464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692358)

...is a qualified tax accountant, which you can access via an online virtual community called OutDoors, which features amazing high res graphics and panoramic 3d first person perspectives. When you locate the tax accountant, he or she will upload your financial data at a staggering speed with his or her eyes and ears, and using the revolutionary HumanBrain processor, calculate the maximum refund available to you.

It's quite a rush, get ready to ride the mongoose.

Re:The best tax technology on earth (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692470)

...is a qualified tax accountant, which you can access via an online virtual community called OutDoors, which features amazing high res graphics and panoramic 3d first person perspectives. When you locate the tax accountant, he or she will upload your financial data at a staggering speed with his or her eyes and ears, and using the revolutionary HumanBrain processor, calculate the maximum refund available to you.

But a qualified tax accountant will charge $50+ for basic preparation, and quite a bit more if you have any special circumstances. Now if you do have special circumstances, the money is well worth it to make sure that you're protected in case of an audit. On the other hand, if you have a very basic filing (deductions such as mortgage interest fall under the "basic filing" status IMHO), tax preparation software is only $20 compared to the $50+ you'll pay for an accountant and will do the job just as well. Pen and paper is free.

I'm not saying that a tax accountant is a bad idea. I'm just saying that for 90% of us it's way overkill and a waste of money.

Re:The best tax technology on earth (1)

svunt (916464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692490)

I agree entirely. Either way, pen and paper or a professional should be the only choices you look at. Software for tax is either overkill or underkill.

Re: Software Overkill? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694742)

Software is efficient. It keeps you from having to look up all the sliding scales. Pen & paper is terrible. Heaven help you if you forgot that your depreciation changed on your truck and forgot to re-check the EIC because your Ex has custody this year.

Re:The best tax technology on earth (1)

spacey (741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694350)

I can't disagree more with the recommendation to use basic tax software. If you have any non-1040 income (i.e. almost any independant work) then you may discover, as I did, that turbotax is monumentally stupid. It's had me overpay by >$1000 two years in the past. The IRS automatic checkers refunded me that money. You can't imagine how it sucks to drain your bank account, only to have the IRS send you back some of that money 2 months later.

Also, if you've done any work outside of a regular job (edit some html, write some php, have a meeting to advise someone, minor things that are billable etc.) if you have even a few square feet, a percentage of your apt/house dedicated to work, and if you've bought a computer or any computer-related equipment and had any business-related meals with your co-workers, consultants, professionally-related friends etc. then you need an accountant to get that money out of your taxes. Turbotax just doesn't do it.

After 2 years in a row with turbotax screwing me, I've hired an accountant for the last 2 years and it's been far more than worth it.

-Peter

Re: Tax Software vs. Professionals (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694798)


This many years into the program, I doubt it's a fault of the raw code. Usually it's a combination of a misleading interface and user error.

Professionals use software to do taxes. Therefore, a professional could probably bludgeon Turbo Tax into an accurate return. The engine is there. I have seen the interface, and it looks a little hokey. I did just fine with TaxAct.

J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692550)

The book.

Taxcut 2006 is free (1)

HappyUserPerson (954699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692560)

H&R Block's TaxCut 2006 Basic [download.com] is completely free this year. No registration, just download [download.com] (about 30 megs) and install. You pay an additional fee only if you want to e-file. Print out the forms and mail them and it's free. TaxCut Basic will handle anything as simple as 1040ez or as complex as you want (interest income, business income, etc).

Re:Taxcut 2006 is free (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692712)

Ummm, no, 'completely free' it is not by any means.

It's free of additional charge, for those who have already paid the high price of using Windows 2000/XP/Vista. It's not available for real operating systems or alternative hardware, and naturally the actual software is not available for review, just an opaque binary blob. So no, it's far from 'completely free.'

I Purchased a Mini-Mac (0)

Skewray (896393) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692594)

I purchased a mini-Mac a few years ago and only run TurboTax on it once a year for a week. The rest of the time my wife uses it to websurf.

TaxAct (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692618)

I used TaxAct last year. Haven't touched TurboTax in years --Intuit are fairly nasty and willful spammers, with a long history of abuses, spyware, and other charming traits. TaxCut was okay, but they ditched the Mac, so I had to go with something else anyway, and H&R Block is not one of my favorite companies; I'm sure they get taxes okay, but they don't understand computers or web pages very well.

Using TaxCut since TurboTax requires admin to run (1)

fuzzyLarry (526105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692766)

A few years ago, TurboTax started requiring admin rights on Windows to run, not just install. When I talked to a TurboTax tech support manager, he claimed the IRS "requires" it run with admin rights. Not trusting Intuit that much, I returned the SW to Costco. It is also interesting to note that TaxCut has never required admin rights. TaxCut works ok, but the interface seems clunky compared to my memory of TurboTax.

My Web Browser (2, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17692804)

Title says it all. I have an account, log in once or twice a year, and file my taxes. I can do it wherever I am, on whatever computer is available, as long as it has internet access and a secure web browser. Back when I used software, I found I was always waiting for the software patches to come out, and they always came out AFTER most of the features of the software would have been usable (right near the end of filing time, instead of in January during planning time). Now, it's always up to date, and I can check in whenever I want to see where my registered savings and charitable contributions should be to maximize my return. Plus, such sites are generally free for people below a certain income level (and cheaper than tax software for people over that level).

Do them yourself, or hire an accountant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17692914)

Gotta agree with the other comments. If you can't do them yourself, have someone else do them. Don't half-ass it with a (likely closed source) software package.

Personally I usually do them myself (including the quarterly estimates), though I take them to an accountant occasionally. And mine are fairly complex (two businesses, foreign taxed dividends, REIT dividends, etc). However I've been doing them myself since I first started working about 15 years ago and each year they got just a little more complicated and I learned a lot along the way. I have a few Lisp programs I wrote to help as well.

Yeah, I'm one of the 2% of people that loves doing their taxes. I even dated a tax accountant once.

If you aren't one of these people, please, do yourself a favor and get an accountant. Preferably a cute female nerdy one. ;-)

Vomit Time (1)

rdforsyth (1039844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17693026)

Why is it that every year, someone bitches about taxes, and how the government is taking us for a spin? Sure, there's a plethora of governmental bodies, and maybe more than needed, but without them, where do streets and street repairs come from? Street lights? Police officers? Schools? These things we take for granted, but are integral to our lives, and our children's lives. Money doesn't just poof from somewhere to pay the bills of street cleaners, or the guys that fix our street lamps. Who pays for all the electricity? Who plows our backlanes for free? We pay taxes up the ass to enjoy the sweetest life imaginable. Who cares if you paid $3000 in taxes and only got back $2900. That $100 paid for someones back breaking labor (heh) on our streets, to ensure our tires don't get beat up by potholes. Oh, when ANYTHING in the country goes wrong, who do we turn to to shell out the big bucks to get it fixed/done? The government. People need to stop complaining. It's not like they're taking your first born. Unless your American, then, sorry. You should move your kids up to Canada. Up here we build igloos and have stick figure parties. Armies? That's for the ones with more than 3 fingers. Ain't many of them around here.

OpenOffice Calc (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17693060)

If you know enough about what money you can include in which figures in the return to use tax software, you can go a step further, get the notes on how to fill in the return, and work it all out in a spreadsheet.

(Disclaimer: I've only ever done UK tax returns this way, but the principle's the same...)

Paper return (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694080)

I'm Canadian, but I just do it on the paper forms and phone it in.

Are you tax forms really that complicated?

Re:Paper return (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17694586)

Yes. The American tax system really is so complicated that people need to use software to fill out the forms correctly, or if their situation is complex enough, they hire an accountant to fill their forms out for them.

TurboTax (1)

Ferretman (224859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694132)

One year I did the taxes with both TaxCut and TurboTax to see which one I felt was easier to use. TaxCut was cheaper but I didn't understand how it went through its deducation interview process....seemed to me it missed some things. It had a much better interface for recording donations though.

In the end I went with TurboTax, if only because I understood how it got what it got.

Ferretman

For Canadians (1)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 7 years ago | (#17694760)

Taxman [pacificcoast.net] is what I've been using the last three years. It's free, and when you're done you just print off the necessary pages (no electronic filing, which the author says would cost him significant time and expense to implement due to red tape).

Windows-only, unfortunately.

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