Turbotax?


V

V. Stafford

After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?

Thanks.
 
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C

CLJ1219

After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes.

Good idea or bad?
Good idea would be to find a better accountant. Might try
getting one who knows small business.

Carol

What can one expect of a day that begins with getting out of bed.
 
H

Harlan Lunsford

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
On first blush, I'd say bad idea. But then I don't your
level of expertise on business taxation issues. For
example depreciation? bonus depreciation? Section 179?
amortization? Allowable business expenses.

Maybe you have, or not, but have you tried an Enrolled Agent
(EA) in your area? If not, email me and I'll find several
you can talk to first to see how they might help you. just
ignore that "ns" in my email address.

Christmas Cheer$,
Harlan Lunsford, EA n LA
 
B

Barry Margolin

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
Tax software like Turbotax is a big aid in doing all the
calculations and copying figures from one place to another
-- all the tedious, mechanical parts of doing your taxes.
But it's no substitute for knowledge of tax issues (although
it provides easy links to IRS publications and documents
relevant to a particular form).
 
D

Don Rosenberg, E.A.

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
As a tax practitioner, I suppose it is self-serving of me to
say "bad." But in your case, with two businesses of your
own, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Although I
have found a number of cases in which the self-prepared
return omitted income or calculated less tax than was due, I
have more often seen legitimate deductions missed. Do
yourself a favor and try to find a tax pro you are
comfortable with.

Don Rosenberg, EA
 
W

Wayne Brasch

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
I don't think this a particularly good idea since you have 2
small businesses. What kind of problem have you had with
accountants? Were they CPAs or EAs? They should have been
able to help you keep from potentially getting penalized for
underpaying estimates. You may think a CPA or EA may cost
you too much money, but most of the time you'll find that
they can save you a lot of money you would have otherwise
paid in taxes.

Wayne Brasch, CPA, M. S. Taxation
 
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B

Barney Bird

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am
considering using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes.
I am reasonably intelligent, but not particularly so
with taxes, self-employed with two small businesses,
an IRA, no investments, and will probably owe penalties
for underpaying estimated. Good idea or bad?
I think you mean a SPATE of bad luck. I doubt your "bad
luck" is entirely the fault of your accountants.

I am not a professional preparer but I do prepare my own
return using TurboTax, as well as returns for a few family
members, friends, and neighbors. TurboTax is great program
but if you don't have some background with taxes you will
find yourself in a garbage-in, garbage-out predicament. The
amount most accountants will save you in taxes is usually
more than the preparation fee they charge you. And that's
even more likely to be the case for self-employed taxpayers.
You probably know other self-employed individuals in your
line of businesss or in similar lines of business. Ask them
who they have do their taxes. Also, ask them to talk a bit
about how the client-accountant relationship works in their
situations and ask yourself how your relationship with your
accountants might have differed. If you think you would be
comfortable with an accountant used by one of your business
acquaintances, approach him or her about accepting you as a
client.

Barney Byrd
 
B

Benjamin Yazersky CPA

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
If you already know how to prepare your own taxes, then
using software (such as turbotax) as a tool to prepare your
tax returns can be a good idea. Remember that the software
is a tool to make your life easier. It is not going to help
you with tax related business decisions. Also, consumer
level tax prep software can be weak in business related tax
work. You would need to investigate a particular software
package to see if it can handle your needs.

However, if you really don't know how to prepare your own
tax return, then the best software in the world probably
won't do you much good. The act of feeding a cd to a
computer does not make for instant tax expert.
 
H

Herb Smith

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
Smashing.
 
E

Ed Zollars, CPA

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
You take on responsiblity for knowing enough to properly
prepare your taxes when you use TurboTax. TurboTax does a
wonderful job of eliminating the tedium of filling in forms
and carrying numbers from one place to another. But, like
any other computer program, it will fall victim to GIGO
(garbage-in, garbage-out) and you do need to know enough to
recognize if TurboTax has created a return that appears
correct for your situation.

My own test for someone would be this--can you handle
creating a return on paper, using the paper resources
available to you (like the IRS publications that are
available for free)? If you can do that, but you just get
tired of the tedium of carrying numbers from form to form,
then TurboTax is a good solution. But if you have no clue
about what you can or cannot deduct and expect TurboTax to
somehow "magically" figure out what's legitimately
deductible and where it is deductible, that simply isn't
going to happen.

It may also be important to consider what has created your
run of "bad luck" with a number of accountants. It could be
that your problem there will simply "transfer" to the
software you select.
 
J

jake johnson

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
We'd probably like to hear why you found accountants an
unacceptable means of meeting your tax needs.
 
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G

Gene E. Utterback, EA

V. Stafford said:
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
Taxes are one of the most complex things most anyone ever
has to deal with, even for professional accountants. I joke
with my friends that I became an accountant because it
didn't require a lot of "heavy math" like what my engineer
friends had to take in college. The hardest part of tax
work is understanding the law, much more so than being able
to run calculations.

In my experience, your best benefit from using a tax
professional is making sure items are treated correctly and
getting the most help in planning and organizing activities
so as to minimize your liabilities. That being said, if a
return really is easy - the 19-year old college student who
made $5,000 waiting tables in OC over the summer with no
other income - than it should be at least attempted by the
taxpayer, if for no other reason than to provide some
experience in what is involved.

But I would never recommend a self employed person attempt
to prepare their own return. There are a lot of possible
items that can easily be misinterpreted or misapplied - like
what depreciation method/convention to use for an office
desk, with a computer and printer, & a fax machine. They
each have either different class lives or different AMT
lives, and the difference has to be calculated in order to
check for AMT. Most nonaccountants simply do not understand
these concepts, though if they did they could easily perform
the calculations.

May we ask, what was your spade of bad luck with accountants?

Gene E. Utterback, EA
 
M

Michael T Wing CPA

Barney Bird said:
The amount most accountants will save you in taxes is
usually more than the preparation fee they charge you.
I'm sure that many of my clients pay MORE in tax when I
prepare their return than they would pay if they prepared
the return themselves or went to a (and how should I put
this...) ~less informed~ preparer. The savings will ONLY be
evident IF the return is audited. Since that doesn't happen
very often, the chance to "prove" your thesis is rare. <g>

If people simply want to play the odds of being caught,
etc., then DON'T have me prepare your return. I can
guarantee that you will be disappointed with the result.

MTW
 
L

Leonard Dane

(e-mail address removed) says...
After a spade of bad luck with accountants, I am considering
using Turbotax to prepare my 2003 taxes. I am reasonably
intelligent, but not particularly so with taxes,
self-employed with two small businesses, an IRA, no
investments, and will probably owe penalties for underpaying
estimated. Good idea or bad?
Consider some of TurboTax's competitors too before you
decide. I file through TaxBrain.com because I'd rather not
buy expensive software. I feel that all in all it's a
cheaper and simpler option. There's also live chat
assistance on the site 24 hours during the crunch time,
which you may have need of if it's your first time doing
your own. Just my 2 cents.

Leonard Dane
 
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R

Read

My first time with Turbotax - I did both it ways, i.e.
used an accountant, AND did my own with Turbotax.
I've used Turbotax from then on.
 

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