I just finished e-filing my taxes and I want to tell you about it!
April 15, 2002 10:39 PM   Subscribe

I just finished e-filing my taxes and I want to tell you about it! It has been, without qualification, the worst Internet experience I've ever had. The Quicken/Intuit software was confusing, my ISP and/or the Quicken server timed out and I had to re-log on about 20 times and the software requires far more intrusive answers (like email address & phone number) than any paper forms I've ever used. Anyone have a good experience e-filing or one more like mine?
posted by Lynsey (49 comments total)
I've found Quicken's online TurboTax software to be fantastic, although it did get a bit slower as today approached. Never timed out on me, though.
posted by arielmeadow at 10:43 PM on April 15, 2002

Dunno. The wife and I did it with TaxCut for four years. No net related issues. We had the check via Direct Deposit. Of course, we usually file before the end of February, so you were probably suffering congestion for the last minute folks. After the four years, we were moved to TeleFile. All in all, a good experience for me. Don't forget to send in the electronic filing form with the paperwork.
posted by Samizdata at 10:44 PM on April 15, 2002

You're surprised that filing your taxes on the internet a few hours before the deadline was a horrible experience?
posted by jgilliam at 10:45 PM on April 15, 2002

Yeah, I did mine online through H&R Block's website, off and on over the past week. Had no problems until today, when it kept crashing my browser (IE on Mac OS X). Had to go and use a library computer, which went slowly, but surely through the federal stuff, but I couldn't do my state taxes (CA) online without a State given Customer Service Number, which I didn't have and couldn't seem to come up with. However, I was able to fill out all of the forms online and then print them out and send them. All in all, I found that H&R Block did a good job of making the process as easy as possible.
posted by rorycberger at 10:50 PM on April 15, 2002

No, not surprised that it was horrible, actually surprised I got in at all. But a set of circumstances that would make for a short but interesting movie if it happened to someone else, (lost w-2, owner out of country until yesterday, etc. etc.), made it necessary to do it this way. Never again, I swear!
posted by Lynsey at 10:51 PM on April 15, 2002

Was on Intuit's site at 7am PST this morning, alt-tabbing between taxes and work. Done at 9.30am. Had to hit refresh exactly ONCE. Fortunately, I have a cable modem. Unfortunately, it's provided by AT&T.

Pretty pleased with the web site as this year was the first I decided to go full web. I usually buy TurboTax but every year it spreads its demon seed AOL/Quicken/MSN/Whatever icons all over the place. Hey Intuit, I already bought your software, enough with the ads!
posted by Tacodog at 10:52 PM on April 15, 2002

I think ANY tax solution, web, software, or by hand works better before April 15th, not the day of. :)
posted by jca at 10:57 PM on April 15, 2002

I've always (okay, so "always" only means "last three years," but still) TeleFiled, always long before the deadline, and never had a problem. I filed in late February this year -- later than usual since one of my employers screwed up my W2. Otherwise it would have been done at the beginning of February.
posted by CrayDrygu at 10:57 PM on April 15, 2002

I did it a month ago, online, and turbotax's online application is still one of the easiest to use web applications out there.

Keep in mind that the turbotax app is doing something really amazing, and doing it well. It takes hundreds of pages of confusing tax laws and presents them as understandable in a series of several dozen screens that contain plain-english summaries of each section. You can jump to context-sensitive help at any time to get more info, and jump right back to where you were at.
posted by mathowie at 11:01 PM on April 15, 2002

I used Web TurboTax about a month ago. It crashed my browser quite a bit (IE 5.1 on OS X), but always kept my info. I've used them for the last year or two and I'll use them again. Even with the crashes, they cover everything and make it easy.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:41 PM on April 15, 2002

I used the Australian Taxation Office's eTax software back in 2000 to do my taxes online. My assessment arrived a few weeks later, advising that I owed about $15,000 in outstanding income tax, and another $15,000 in provisional tax.

They just flat out refused to believe that there was a problem. The computer said I owed thirty grand, so therefore I owed thirty grand. No, we don't know why the file we used to process your assessment is completely different to the one you submitted. No, we don't know why your group certificate says you paid tax, and we have records that you paid tax, and you told us that you paid tax, but we decided to ignore all of that information. So, will you be paying that thirty large iby cash or cheque?

It took me four letters, a squillion phone calls and two visits to sort it out. When the new assessment arrived, they corrected the income tax error, which corrected the provisional tax error - whew. But wait - what's this? 'Outstanding balance from previous assessment - $30,000'.

Fscking morons.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:55 PM on April 15, 2002

Aieeee! Thanks obiwan, I feel better now! Mine is a cautionary tale. Don't wait till the last minute (hour, day, whatever), just do it, whether or not you have all your W-2's!
posted by Lynsey at 11:59 PM on April 15, 2002

Hmmm. I walked into H&R Block, handed them our documents, they prepared everything and e-Filed for us, and my refund showed up two weeks later.
posted by AFrayedKnot at 12:06 AM on April 16, 2002

i've found that a mercenary accountant this time every year is the best hundred bucks anyone could spend. if anyone in the chicago area needs one, call paul wycliff at chicago tax service. he's a piranha.
posted by patricking at 12:09 AM on April 16, 2002

I did mine on Turbo Tax a little more than a week ago and got my refund in 7 days straight into my bank account. Of course you're paying $20 for the electronic transfer but it was mucho cool to get the money so quickly. Now which park flyer to buy?
posted by skallas at 12:09 AM on April 16, 2002

FWIW, I was anal retentive this year and ran my taxes through both TAX CUT and TURBO TAX with identical figures. TAX CUT gave me an assessment of $1000 less than TURBO TAX. I pulled out a lot of hair trying to find the discrepancy. My wife finally checked through the tax code (she is an accountant) and found that TAX CUT was calculating IRA deductions incorrectly under obscure circumstances (which we happened to fall under). TURBO TAX did the deduction correctly.

My state taxes came out 1000$ cheaper under TURBO TAX, but I didn't bother to check out why. I have not time to slog through the state tax code. TAX CUT state is absolutely awful, it looks like it was just thrown together. There were many place where I had to manually edit the forms to get the right behavior.

Aside from all this TURBOTAX was much more straightforward and logical. This is good, as I fall under nightmare tax rules.

1. There are surprising differences between tax assesments from different programs.
2. TAX CUT isn't up to snuff wrt TURBO TAX.
posted by phatboy at 12:44 AM on April 16, 2002

I joined half a gazillion Americans and waited until the last minute to do my taxes. I had some stalling using the Turbotax online app, but it's hard to know if that was because of anything other than that I was using Netscape 4.7 on a Mac with almost barely enough memory to start the Finder. I didn't lose any data and I was very glad to not have to calculate all that nonsense myself.
posted by mrmorgan at 1:05 AM on April 16, 2002

This was my 3rd year using TurboTax Web and I thought is was great. I mean, I shoulda gotten an accountant, but it was easier than doing it myself.

The big plus was that it remembered (some) stuff from last year.

AND since I'm poor, it was free. Didn't even cost me a stamp.
posted by halcyon at 1:14 AM on April 16, 2002

i used TaxAct.com and had it done in 35 minutes. both state and fed. it asked me questions, then put them in the proper lines of the proper forms.

efiled and got my money in 10 days.

i will use them again.
posted by tsarfan at 1:14 AM on April 16, 2002

taxes are for pansies.
posted by delmoi at 1:47 AM on April 16, 2002

delmoi--I don't know if that was a joke or not, but trust me, file the damn papers. I know from about four or five years of blowing it off that it comes back to bite you in a major way. Unless of course you never (and I mean never) need anything from the government or need to show a bank returns to get a loan, or a number of other things.
posted by anathema at 2:48 AM on April 16, 2002

I did a post on my weblog last night about my own e-filing nightmare - won't self-link, but I thought I should offer that disclaimer first. Here's how it went:

1. Go to H&R Block's website the night before April 15.
2. Create a user name and password.
3. Follow the easy instructions to complete tax forms for federal, state, and local taxes.
4. Enter your bank routing and account numbers for easy direct deposit.
5. Print out copies of your returns for your records.
6. Log out.
7. Watch on local news program and laugh at the poor schmucks who are waiting in long lines to mail their returns.
8. Go to work the next day.
9. Pass the poor schmucks waiting in line at the post office near your office. Laugh at them.
10. Go home from work with plans for a leisurely evening.
11. Check email at 7 pm on April 15; find notice from H&R Block telling you that you don't qualify for electronic filing after all and must mail your returns by midnight.
12. Log onto H&R Block web site.
13. Attempt to print a new copy of your returns; receive error message from H&R Block web site stating that the site has too many users online at the moment and that you should try again.
14. Try again.
15. Try again.
16. Try again.
17. Say "Fuck this!" and sign the copy you printed out last night.
18. Affix copies of W2 forms to the proper forms.
19. Hope that you will be able to print out a copy of your returns for yourself at some point later on.
20. Visit U.S. Postal Service web site to find nearest post office.
21. Decide to go to the Park Slope station on 7th Avenue instead of the Van Brunt station on 9th Street since Jen says the Van Brunt station sucks.
22. Call Park Slope station to see if they're open 'till midnight; cheerful young man who answers phone tells you they are.
23. Look up Park Slope station on MapQuest to find out what block it's on.
24. Put returns in envelopes.
25. Seal envelopes.
26. Address envelopes.
27. Walk to nearest bus stop on 7th Avenue.
28. Wait half an hour for bus.
29. Board bus and ride to the proper stop.
30. Get off bus.
31. Wander up and down the street for several blocks in either direction wondering where the hell the post office is.
32. Go into beauty supply store and make an unnecessary purchase in order to ask clerk where the post office is; she thinks it's three or four blocks west.
33. Walk four blocks west.
34. Walk another block west.
35. Walk another block west.
36. Realize girl at beauty supply store didn't know what the fuck she was talking about.
37. Go into Starbucks and make an unnecessary purchase in order to ask barista where the post office is; he is certain it's another two blocks west.
38. Walk two blocks west.
39. Find Park Slope station; it's closed.
40. Realize cheerful young man on phone who told you they were open 'till midnight didn't know what the fuck he was talking about.
41. Walk to Van Brunt station, cursing under your breath.
42. Van Brunt station is closed; read notice posted on the front door that tells you there are only three post offices open 'till midnight in Brooklyn, the nearest of which is three neighborhoods away.
43. Walk to corner in tears and call roommates.
44. Wait for one of your roommates to come pick you up and drive you to post office in Bay Ridge.
45. Mail returns.
46. Return home three hours after you left.
47. Write long, rambling weblog post to exorcise your irritation.
48. Drink glass of scotch.
49. Go to bed.

Of course, if I'd only received that email during the day, I could have just dropped by the post office 3 blocks from where I work and been done with it. Argh.
posted by apollonia6 at 4:49 AM on April 16, 2002

I used TurboTax back in February, and it was a cinch to do. As soon as I had my W-2 forms, I entered all of my information, and it took all of 20 minutes. In 7 days, I had refunds for both state and federal taxes deposited directly into my bank account. I couldn't be more pleased with the service, and I will use it again next year.

Side Note: Why do people wait to the last minute to do their taxes? Especially when they are getting a refund? Always boggled my mind. Don't want the government having my money for any longer than they have to.
posted by benjh at 4:54 AM on April 16, 2002

Because of the way I work (all contract work) and the fact that I have no deductions, I filled out and filed my return in about 15 minutes. If it hadn't been for the fact that I had two sources of income, it would've been 10.

Some things are actually better in Poland, weird.
posted by jedrek at 5:06 AM on April 16, 2002

Another TurboTax success story from a year ago: After my wife had entered all the W2 info, it pointed out that her employer had been deducting too much for SS, resulting in a $164 adjustment. I assume an accountant would have caught that, but no way we would've, even though we're pretty careful and deliberate when filling things out -

We've used it for the last few years and love it, though my increasing level of freelance work is probably going to necessitate an accountant next year. If you're not doing anything too complicated, I can't recommend it enough.
posted by jalexei at 5:11 AM on April 16, 2002

obiwanwasabi: hmm, I had the exact opposite experience with ATO's eTax last year. I was rather surprised at how well it worked, considering it looked like a bad DIY Delphi app from the Windows 3.1 era and all. Got my return in 5 days after lodgement. Very happy about that. I'll never use that damn TaxPack ever again, that's for sure ;)
posted by helloboys at 5:39 AM on April 16, 2002

My e-file was refused. The IRS said I wasn't qualified to claim the $300 rate reduction credit.

So I filed by paper. And attached a copy of the letter from the IRS saying they couldn't cut a replacement check after 12/31, so I should claim the credit on my 2001 tax return.

By the way, anybody notice how well the IRS web site handled the load this year? Now, if they could only get somebody to design a reasonable interface to the forms/pubs. The dropdown is just so wrong.
posted by chipr at 5:47 AM on April 16, 2002

I'll go with the TurboTax group in saying that it is one of the easiest programs to use for taxes. Answer the questions, send it off (electronically, of course) and get your refund (if you get one) in a few days. Good stuff.
posted by JaxJaggywires at 5:59 AM on April 16, 2002

I had a fantastic e-filing experience. Now, admittedly, perhaps because I did my filing back in February, I was using the system at a time when it was less overwhelmed.

I did both federal and state taxes on software on my computer rather than through the web. The process took about two hours of answering questions and going over the details to make sure that we hadn't left anything out. The actual filing took about ten minutes and went smoothly. we had our state refund direct deposited into our bank account in three days and the federal refund direct deposited in a touch over a week.

Easiest year of filing, ever.
posted by warhol at 6:11 AM on April 16, 2002

I've used Turbo Tax online for the past couple of years and it's GREAT. I actually had, for a single person, fairly complicated taxes (freelance wages, ESPP and option transactions), and it handled them clearly and well. Did crash a bunch using IE under OS X (as someone else noted), but it did save all my info. In all honesty, online tax prep has got to rank up there as one of the Net's killer apps...
posted by mkultra at 6:16 AM on April 16, 2002

Oh, the joys of communal experiences. I used my aunt's Turbotax on a PC with too little memory. Pretty good program, but because I've been working for myself, the program seemed to be asking the same questions twice: for my business and home office. Once I discovered the possible need to pay the NYC unincorporated business tax, I gave up. Or something. So after six took taxi to main Post Office. Filed extension form at 11:57pm. Had some Mr. Softee (scotch flavored).

Hope you all deducted your domain names! Hope the IRS doesn't conclude that, based on the # of comments I've made on Mefi my AOL and Computer is not primarily for business!
posted by ParisParamus at 6:32 AM on April 16, 2002

Did my federal taxes online at Turbotax- no problems- I'd like to be able to see/edit the actual 1040 though, instead of drilling through all the steps.

Filed my state return for free from NJWebfile and saved myself the $12.95! Flawless! Not sure if other states allow you to file online for free, but I was thoroughly impressed.
posted by mad at 6:41 AM on April 16, 2002

The only problem was with a typo in Turbotax online that awarded me $300,000. Once I got that figured out, everything was grand. So to speak.

This was 2 months ago.
posted by jragon at 6:43 AM on April 16, 2002

"The only problem was with a typo in Turbotax online that awarded me $300,000."

The less ethical among us might call that problem a "feature"...
posted by jalexei at 7:02 AM on April 16, 2002

I'm just throwing in my vote for "you waited too long, quit complaining" -- we did ours online with Quicken (long form!) and it was a snap. Got refunds back so long ago I can't even remember what we spent them on.

Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting old. Used to be I waited until it was too late. Of course, I was wearing plaid shorts yesterday. And those damn kids wouldn't get off my lawn..
posted by fnirt at 7:09 AM on April 16, 2002

I pay a wonderful lady to do my taxes. When I get the completed forms paperclipped to the pre-adddressed envelopes just waiting for my signture, I get an intense feeling of deep, pure, unadulterated love because she figured all this stupid shit out for me.

There is no love like accountant love.

If anyone in NC is looking for an accountant, I'll be glad to recommend her.
posted by jennyb at 7:46 AM on April 16, 2002

I thought Turbotax was fantastic for federal taxes but it doesn't do well with Illinois state taxes. There seems to be some glitch which causes it to believe you're filing after April 15 even if it's March. It kept adding the penalty fee onto my total and then it wouldn't let me submit electronically because I owed a penalty. argh. I thought it was just me, but others I know have had the same problem with Turbotax/Illinois.
posted by altojen at 7:48 AM on April 16, 2002

TurboTax web did a great job for us with our (relatively) uncomplicated taxes ... a particularly awesome feature is the way it does the really annoying worksheets (limitations on itemized deductions, AMT calculation, etc) for you automatically and in the background. It also is good at capturing things that you might not be aware of (overpaid social security is a huge one for upper middle-class people who switch jobs). It also has nice features in terms of prompting you on which IRA calculations you're entitled to make.

This year, we're moving to another state in the NY Metro area (while keeping jobs), buying a house, and having a baby. I expect that TurboTax will be able to keep up with all of those changes, at an additional $10 for the second state return.

The only people who really need an accountant are people whose tax filings involve a significant amount of judgment as to tax residency, realization of income or applicability of deductions: people who work or invest abroad, independent contractors, sole proprietors, general partners, "S" corporation or LLC shareholders, etc. No tax filing software can substitute for judgment...
posted by MattD at 8:05 AM on April 16, 2002

The only people who really need an accountant are people whose tax filings involve a significant amount of judgment as to tax residency... or LLC shareholders, etc.

Or people who hate taxes and want absolutely nothing to do with them beyond sending the W2s and envelope of receipts to the account then signing the forms she sends back.

Some things I would just rather pay the professionals to handle for me.
posted by jennyb at 8:16 AM on April 16, 2002

Will everyone quit being so freakin' smug about filing early? We get it . . . you're super organized and smart. Neat.
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:38 AM on April 16, 2002

I used TurboTax at the beginning of April, filed electronically without incident, and had a refund from the State of Michigan four days later.

Four. Days. Later.

Thank you internet.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:46 AM on April 16, 2002

I still have 15 days to do my taxes. I've just downloaded the programs from the Brazilian IRS. I've been doing it on my PC and sending it via internet since 1996 or 1997.

Piece of cake and a pleasant experience (when I don't have to pay taxes, that is). We have two ways to do our taxes. One of them is a simplified version, where you have a fixed 20% deduction and it's easy to fill the form. The other is the complete one, where you have to specify each and any deduction and it's a painfull experience. I always go for the simple one.

And the beauty of it is that you can use the complete one and the program will tell you if you should change to the simple one to get a bigger deduction and also if you choose so, it will convert your data automatically. Sweet.
posted by rexgregbr at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2002

Norway: get my forms already filled out by the gov't, add a few deductions, and submit online. It's about as simple as it can be, then again it's easier in this country where you pay close to 100% in taxes anyway... sigh.
posted by dagny at 9:23 AM on April 16, 2002

What hackly said....
posted by Lynsey at 9:30 AM on April 16, 2002

Will everyone quit being so freakin' smug about filing early? We get it . . . you're super organized and smart. Neat.

Yep, I went ahead and did next year's taxes too.
posted by bobadoci at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2002

I filed through the Quicken Tax Freedom project, and have been doing so for the past three years. I've never had a problem with it...then again, I'm one of those "super-organised and smart" people. Yeah right...I only file early because I know I'll get a refund. :-)
posted by Spinderella56 at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2002

We get it . . . you're super organized and smart. Neat.

Or, in the case of those who filed early in order to get their refund, maybe they just didn't want to give an interest-free loan to the government for a day longer than they needed to. Can you blame them?
posted by Dreama at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2002

This is the first year in quite some time I haven't done it in February -- postponed until April 15 and figured I'd just e-file. The worst part is, I had actually run the numbers already, just never bothered to fill out the stupid form because "hey, I'll just e-file this year!" If I had just mailed it in then, it would've been a LOT easier.

Anyway, I went to TaxAct.com, ran through it in about 20 minutes, submitted, and went to work. Later that evening (about 9:30 local time), checked my e-mail: the IRS had rejected my return due to inconsistencies in my wife's data. After much gnashing of teeth, I realized that the gov't had her still listed as her maiden name. They never kicked back any of the paper returns I've done since we were married, but they caught it this year. Resubmitted, and all is well.

Actually, it was still a fairly positive experience (would've been better if I had just done it in Feb but I digress). TaxAct.com was great, no capacity problems and their calculation squared with mine. Recommended!
posted by elvolio at 12:21 PM on April 16, 2002

The only people who really need an accountant are people whose tax filings involve a significant amount of judgment as to tax residency... or LLC shareholders, etc.

Or people who live in one state and work in another, since online services don't seem to allow for nonresident tax forms.

Does anyone want to share what they paid to have their taxes done online vs. cost of using an accountant or budget-accounting-service like H&R Block? It cost me $130 to file for New York and New Jersey and electronically file my federal. And my taxes are EZ-Form stuff aside from the multi-state nonsense. Blech.
posted by bcwinters at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2002

« Older An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th...   |   Can you stump the Encyclopedia of Integer... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments