Goodbye TaxCut, Hello TurboTax

I figure you all have read enough about the stock market yo yo these days. It’s time for something else.

I wrote a mini-series on tax preparation software last year:

  1. Tax Software: Online or Desktop?
  2. Tax Software: TurboTax, TaxCut, or TaxAct?
  3. Tax Software: E-File or Mail?

While my opinion on online vs. desktop or e-file vs. mail didn’t change, I decided to switch from TaxCut to TurboTax this year.

I was going to continue using TaxCut like I did in the last few years. I ordered the software from Staples and I even thought I got a decent deal. Together with Microsoft Money, Norton and McAfee anti-virus software, my total cost after all rebates was going to be less than $15. Because H&R Block increased their price, the deal wasn’t as good as last year when I was paid $40 after all rebates, but I thought $15 was good enough. However, after I installed TaxCut, I saw a big change this year. It requires the user to log on as a Windows administrator to run the application. This is nonsense. A user needs administrative right to install the software but the user shouldn’t need administrative right just to run the software. H&R Block developers clearly took a shortcut. Writing software that runs under a limited user requires more testing. So they decided to save some money and let their customers deal with the security risk. That’s not acceptable.

I decided to take them up on their 60-day money back guarantee. While I may be able to get around the problem by using “Run As …” I think a company must feel the consequence of screwing its customers. I wrote a short letter letting H&R Block know why I’m returning the software. If enough customers protest, I hope they will think twice before they do crazy stuff like this again. A few years ago, Intuit bundled the nasty C-Dilla DRM software with TurboTax. There was an outcry from the users. Many customers defected. That was the year I switched over to TaxCut. Intuit lost me as a customer. Now H&R Block sent me back to them.

[Update on Feb. 21, 2008]: There is a follow up to this post, TurboTax and TaxCut 2007 Compared Side By Side.

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Comments

  1. pfstock says

    I, too, was unhappy about the product activation scheme that TurboTax tried to implement in TY 2002. That is when I switched to TaxCut.

    In TY 2005, I switched back to TurboTax. I feel this was a mistake, as TurboTax 2005 initially did not allow me to import my tax file from TaxCut 2004. Intuit cited “security reasons” as their excuse for not allowing data imported from TaxCut. Intuit later corrected the flaw. But by that time, I already manually re-typed my ENTIRE tax return into TurboTax, so there was no point in then importing the TaxCut data which would have wiped out all of my work.

    For this year, it seems that TurboTax allows you to import your TaxCut data, but their website advises that not all of the data will be imported. Perhaps that is TurboTax’s way of punishing users who previously switched to a competing tax product…

  2. Anonymous says

    I ended up getting Tax Cut Deluxe + State + e-file for $20. Installed it and started using it. Then it started crashing. Over, and over, and over again.

    Then it failed to properly account for taxes already paid on some IRA withdrawals.

    I tried TurboTax Premier Online. it didn’t crash, but also didn’t handle the IRA situation properly *and* failed to account properly for exercised stock options.

    It sucks that our tax code is so complex as to necessitate using software to do taxes, and then the software sucks so much that it can’t complete taxes properly.

    Really disappointing. I’ll have to pony up for Turbotax Desktop to see if *that* runs properly.

  3. indexfundfan says

    Coincidentally, I am also switching to TurboTax this year, after using TaxCut for the last 3 or 4 years.

    The reason is because I couldn’t find a painless and cheap way to purchase TaxCut (don’t want to deal with mail-in rebates).

    In the end, I decided to save the trouble and buy TurboTax from Costco with the $15 coupon. The price was $22 + tax.

  4. Ted says

    I’ve been using taxcut online. It doesn’t have all of the forms I need (in particular HSA distributions). I was going to have to download it, but now I’m rethinking that.

    By the way anon, I’ve also had issues with the way their software is doing my IRAs.

    Frustrating to say the least.

  5. Anonymous says

    I’ve been using TurboTax for 10 years. Until 2003 it has been an exceptionally stable product. In 2003 their development management jumped ship and the new team had made a few mistakes. Personally, I would be more consern with the quality, accuracy and usability of the software. If you own a PC, you have an admin access. If you are doing things with the registry, it requires admin priviledges – that’s the real shortcoming of Microsoft’s security model. Being a software developer myself, I am not necessarilty sure that Intuit decided not to test non-admin installation.

  6. Harry Sit says

    IndexFundFan,

    There was a deal a couple of weeks ago at Office Depot where you could get TaxCut Deluxe Fed + State + e-File for $20 after just one $10 mail-in rebate. I bought TurboTax with Quicken Deluxe from Staples for net $22 after two rebates but those are “easy” rebates which don’t require cutting UPC or mailing.

    Because I now have both, I’m in a good situation to compare the two with the same data. I will report back how they do.

  7. Bradipo says

    I saw a great idea a few years back: Congress should write the tax code in the form of tax return software.

    If you enter the data correctly, you’re guaranteed that the tax calculated is correct, because the software actually is the law.

    There’d still be a role for Intuit and the other folks, who could provide prettified front-ends to the official government tax software.

  8. Anonymous says

    For protection of this sort of personal information it makes sense as a user(me) to require admin access to run the program; in my opinion.

  9. Anonymous says

    I switched from TurboTax to TaxCut 3-4 years ago. This year I was annoyed that when e-filing my State tax return TaxCut did not automatically populate my 2007 AGI as it did with the Federal e-file. I did not have my 2007 documents readily available to obtain the needed number so I called TaxCut to find where I could locate it. To my horror, the CSR was able to provide me with my 2007 AGI over the phone after only verifying a few pieces of information.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think my tax software provider should be storing my tax data and allowing technical support staff to have access to it.

  10. Harry Sit says

    Anonymous – That’s why I refuse to e-file. I don’t want any CSR to snoop in my tax return files.

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