Preparing online? ? ?


R

Ray

This isn't really a tax question, but I'd be interested in the experience
with preparing returns on the IRS site -- as opposed to the commercial
software?

A few years back I was involved in a state bar association pro bono program
which prepared returns for the working poor, trying to keep them out of the
clutches of those store-front loan sharks. I was never certain, but I think
we may have been using software provided by the IRS, and it seemed
reasonably easy to use.
 
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A

Arthur Kamlet

This isn't really a tax question, but I'd be interested in the experience
with preparing returns on the IRS site -- as opposed to the commercial
software?

A few years back I was involved in a state bar association pro bono program
which prepared returns for the working poor, trying to keep them out of the
clutches of those store-front loan sharks. I was never certain, but I think
we may have been using software provided by the IRS, and it seemed
reasonably easy to use.
Maybe you are thinking of TaxWise, a commercial package the IRS
has contracted for use in its volunteer programs?


For those volunteer preparers registered in one of those
programs, there's a few tests to pass, and TaxWise makes
available TWO -- TaxWise on-Line.
 
M

Mark Bole

Ray said:
A few years back I was involved in a state bar association pro bono
program which prepared returns for the working poor, trying to keep them
out of the clutches of those store-front loan sharks.
Some people, especially "working poor", cannot open checking accounts
because banks won't serve them (due to reporting by Telecheck,
ChexSystems, etc).

Did your pro bono association offer the ability to direct deposit an IRS
refund onto a pre-paid debit card at no extra cost for such people,
within the IRS 8-15 day payment window (i.e. not a loan)? Helping them
get a paper check from the IRS a month or two later, which then results
in hefty check cashing fees from store-front payday loan/check cashing
operators, hardly seems an improvement.

-Mark Bole
 
J

John Levine

Did your pro bono association offer the ability to direct deposit an
IRS refund onto a pre-paid debit card at no extra cost for such
people, within the IRS 8-15 day payment window (i.e. not a loan)?
Good question. Around here the pro bono tax prep is done through the
local community credit union (see www.alternatives.coop) with the
hidden agenda being to get people to open an account into which to
deposit their refund. They have accounts suitable for low income
people, e.g., share draft/checking with no fees other than check
printing if you agree to electronic statements.

R's,
John
 
P

Phil Marti

This isn't really a tax question, but I'd be interested in the experience
with preparing returns on the IRS site -- as opposed to the commercial
software?
I tried to do mine that way last year. It wasn't really on the IRS
site, it was a link from there to another site, the "fill in the
forms" option. I gave up on it shortly after I started. I couldn't
find a way to include a required dotted line entry on line 7.

Phil Marti
Clarksburg, MD
 
D

Don Priebe

This isn't really a tax question, but I'd be interested in the experience
I've had only one experience with the IRS fill-in-the-form site, and it
wasn't good. A client came to our AARP/TCE site to get a state return
prepared after he used the IRS site for his federal. The copy of the
federal return that he presented was awful -- arithmetic errors, tax equal
to taxable income, etc. There was also no clear indication that the return
had indeed been filed and/or accepted.

We prepared an amended return and a paper state return. Unfortunately we'll
never know how it turned out.
 
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H

Hamilton Street Club

Maybe you are thinking of TaxWise, a commercial package the IRS
has contracted for use in its volunteer programs?

For those volunteer preparers registered in one of those
programs, there's a few tests to pass, and TaxWise makes
available TWO -- TaxWise on-Line.
Yes -- TaxWise -- that's the program we used. I found it pretty good.

We were mainly concerned with getting the earned income tax credit and
the dependent child credit. As I recall, the best refund I got was
over $4,000, for a single mother of three whose income was around
$20,000.

It was a real educational experience in the socioeconomics of the
inner city.
 
H

Hamilton Street Club

Some people, especially "working poor", cannot open checking accounts
because banks won't serve them (due to reporting by Telecheck,
ChexSystems, etc).

Did your pro bono association offer the ability to direct deposit an IRS
refund onto a pre-paid debit card at no extra cost for such people,
within the IRS 8-15 day payment window (i.e. not a loan)?  Helping them
get a paper check from the IRS a month or two later, which then results
in hefty check cashing fees from store-front payday loan/check cashing
operators, hardly seems an improvement.

-Mark Bole
I was only involved in preparation, but I think there was some effort
to get bank accounts for these people, or some other means of getting
the refund other than in paper checks.
 
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R

rick++

Ray said:
This isn't really a tax question, but I'd be interested in the experience
with preparing returns on the IRS site -- as opposed to the commercial
software?
I liked the the Free File Fillable Forms offered last year.
These present the basic tax forms in an active fashion-
calculating the numbers that need to calculated for you.
The possible danger compared to consumer tax passes
is that you could overlook a form. Turbo Tax tries filling
out all relevant forms in the background and prints
for you if it thinks its necessary to file one. These include
AMT, estimated income penalty, retirement accounts, etc.
The consumer softwares also present the tax task in a more
coherent category manner rather than by tax form. This may
be better for beginners.
If one's economic life hasnt changed drastically since last
year you'll may just need to fill out the same forms last year.
I lost patience with Turbo Tax because they are constantly
popping requests for new services at additional cost.
Plus when I tried to estimate the 2009 on the 2008 software,
they want ten bucks to start a new return.
 

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