Thursday, March 18, 2010

Turboed Taxes

Getting the taxes done was one of the main reasons to get Morty back home in this time period. The experience was just as eye-opening as ever -- even for a former CPA. Some random observations:

The price of TurboTax seems to have leveled-off somewhat this year. The price at Amazon seemed a little better than I could do locally, and so that was my source.

You don't have to give the publisher Intuit all your contact information. Just skipping that screen is allowed, and you can thereby avoid some future spam if they don't have you from prior years. Unfortunately, I always used to be fully compliant.

I had over 300 trades in our taxable brokerage account last year -- all needing to be reported to the IRS. My broker provided downloaded tax files for the first time this year and that was generally pretty smooth. The problem arose with the broker doing too good job on wash-sales to the extent that TurboTax couldn't understand how there could be zero cost transactions as the second half of the wash-sale. The solution I used was to enter a penny in those 20 transactions to replace the zero. This worked pretty well without distorting the transactions substantially. The proof will be in a couple of years, if the IRS continues happy.

As one who usually bypassed all the medical deductions, I was surprised to find that Ohio was allowing a deduction for unsubsidized health insurance premiums. I suspect that that is not a new thing, but in any event, this was the first year that we had such an outlay. Saved a couple of bucks.

The Turbo package I bought included one state return, but the e-filing the state was $20 extra. As usual, I found that entering a dozen or so numbers on-line at the state site was not quite worth that much to me. If you think about it, when TurboTax is already e-filing the federal return, anything extra to do the state at the same time is almost all pure extra profit -- not from me, thank you very much.

Our city joined the regional tax authority this year, and Turbo even prepared that return, but provided no e-file capability. So I went on line there also and found out that they already had our information including a $15 credit balance from a couple of years ago. That is something that was a complete surprise. Given that this should be our final year with city-taxable wages, this was probably the last chance we would get to claim the benefit of that credit. So here was an added plus to the TurboTax approach, even though it wasn't really directly responsible for me checking in on line.

So, we are glad to have all that behind us for a while longer. One more thing out of the way for the next trip in Morty.
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