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April 15, 2005 12:21 AM

Broken: TaxCut claim

Taxcut1Nate Morrison writes:

TaxCut is particularly buggy this year and they make some rather incredible claims.  For example, this screen shot (I removed the financial data).  TaxCut is claiming that it saved me money on taxes this year because I used a pretax retirement account.  Note that this claim is tenuous at best as I, not TaxCut, planned it this way.  TaxCut didn't _do_ anything!  :-)


oh yeah, it's the old "your plan worked - aren't you glad we thought of it?" ....thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Kay at April 15, 2005 07:56 AM

There's nothing in that passage in which TaxCut takes credit for your brilliance. "We calculate that you saved..." Yes, you already know that. Some other user might not.

You state that TaxCut is "particularly buggy" this year, yet you give no examples of bugs. I've used TaxCut for each of the last three years to do my taxes. The results were satisfactory, and I didn't experience any bugs. In 2004 I had a consulting business AND a job, and I experienced no bugs while preparing my 100+-page return.

Posted by: Jay at April 15, 2005 09:12 AM


Actually, they do make the claim explicitly in the in introductory text of the dialog box.

"Take a look at the ways TaxCut helped you save on your 2004 taxes."

The problem is that they are mixing two things together. There are tax savings that TaxCut may have found through your interation with the TaxCut program (which match with the introductory claim), and tax savings that are identified through calculation as a result of actions you have taken (which is the example here).

There would be no problem if the introductory text stated "Here are your tax savings for 2004". But of course, marketing and product development types always want to position the product as actively working in your favour, and thus the slightly misleading text.

It's the same sort of thing with invoices. For example, my cable company has a section on the invoice announcing how I've "saved" $15 with the package I've selected. I haven't saved any money at all. If I had chosen to go with an equivalent satellite package, I'd be paying pretty much the same price.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at April 15, 2005 09:50 AM

For the most part TurboTax worked well for me this year. There were few failures, but when there were, they were completely silent failures (a typical usability problem)-- the web site would just respond with a blank page, sometimes it would refuse the HTTP connection outright (maybe from too many connections from me?) I think it would get Firefox's javascript engine in trouble, since none of the buttons (which trigger javascript code rather than being actual hyperlinks) would respond, until I restarted Firefox. Since it's all Javascript driven, none of the usual recourse was available to me as a user-- reload button, linking to the home page and starting over, etc. Also tabbing between fields was mildly broken. If you started at the first field and used tab to go to the next field, no problem. But if you clicked some field (e.g. the 3rd down the page), tab would not go to the next (e.g. the 4th), but back to the first.

Thank goodness they are intelligent about parsing dates, social security numbers, etc. unlike the vast majority of sites that make you use some special format, or scroll through tedious lists of months and years.

Posted by: Reed at April 15, 2005 10:30 AM

Reed, you've made me feel better about spending $40 for the TurboTax desktop app. None of the bugs you listed.

I would like, however, to be able to view previous years' returns during this year's preparation without having to open the separate application from that year.

Posted by: Chris at April 15, 2005 11:08 AM

get the guns honey here comes the revenuers. probably just a form oversite.

Posted by: bdk at April 15, 2005 12:14 PM

I had the extreme misfortune of using TaxCut just last night. My friend told me he had not yet prepared his taxes and asked for my help (I work with taxes for a living). I went to pick up a copy of TurboTax but the store only had copies of TaxCut left (not surprising now). The majority of deductions are done by entering your data directly onto scanned copies of the actual forms (hence the pagination descrepancy). This hardly counts as simplification. Not to mention the $50 I paid for the program, $25 to download the state, $30 to e-file the fed & state and the $12 TaxCut charged for this "convenience."

Needless to say, I was not impressed.

Posted by: Dan at April 15, 2005 12:18 PM

What is actually broken here is the tax system.

For example Jay has a job and a side business and it takes 100 pages to file his taxes??

It's got to be easier than that?

Posted by: Mercy at April 15, 2005 02:00 PM

I accidently bought TaxCut this year. Last year I used TaxAct, and damn if I didn't get them confused.

TaxCut refused to auto fill in the box for the "fill out the direct withdrawal of the taxes I have to pay to the IRS". I had to go back a step, remember the number, go forward a step, and enter it.

I stopped using Turbotax when they had the whole copy protectin debacle some years back -- I switched to TaxAct, and I'll definitely not be using TaxCut this year. It's just a bad piece of software.

It also asked me over and over again to update the program, even time there were no updates, but the program was too stupid to go onto the next step, I'd have to switch over to "update later" to get to the next page.

Bad bad.

Posted by: Alex at April 16, 2005 01:17 AM

I've used TaxCut for a number of years but this is my last year too because of the price gouging Dan mentioned earlier and the program shortcomings mentioned by Alex. I had 1099's from Oil & Gas Royalties and trying to get this reported on Schedule E using their interview technique was impossible. I gave up and just went directly to the Schedule E and completed it.

I tried to go to their web site and complain about the product but they have real provision for doing this.

Posted by: Jim at April 16, 2005 07:16 AM

we use tax cut because they "stand by" their tax softwear or so we thought. Last yearI was not asked for a 1099ss even though I get I am disabled and we had that in the intro. now the irs say we owe because of taxcut failure. All txcut will tell us is "you must entered in a wrong amount"

Posted by: Brenda at April 19, 2005 10:30 AM

My tax cut did not work at all and i never recieved my rebate i could not print out my return and i sent you for my rebate and did not hear from you yet.I tried many times to get in touch with you people but never heard from you What can I do to get my rebate You sent me my paper work back and I sent it back to you but that was it 1-773-775-4069 or

Posted by: james kassner sr at May 10, 2005 10:42 AM

I have used taxcut for 6 years. This year the e-filing system is broken, at least in my state. My e-file has been processing for over a week now. Repeated e-mails to taxcut say that I don't know how to use the program. I finally got an automated e-mail that says there is a delay...they don't know how long. I called and it took an hour to find someone who even knew about the delay. It was suggested that I file on paper..."Oh, but you already submitted an can't. You'll just have to wait...indefinitely"

I have since found out that this problem also affects H.R. Block offices in my area. But if your credit is good, they will be happy to offer a refund anticipation a price.

Posted by: Bruce at January 21, 2006 04:48 PM

The software will NOT accept my W-2 information and permit me to E-file. The error check gave me a warning that my social security taxes were more than 50% of my TAXABLE FEDERAL INCOME. (I was glad that it noticed but that is exactly what I want since I take nearly all compensation as non taxable 401K. But I am required to pay social security taxes on that non-taxable 401K compensation.) Unfortunately... the warning turned into an ERROR when I attempted to EFILE.

I cannot change my W-2 therefore I have to paper file. The TAXCUT support site acknowledges that we will get a warning in this situation when we do an error check and I think that is a desirable action, but it also says that it is okay and we can continue normally with the warning in place. NOT SO! It refuses to E-FILE and says it is because of the social security amounts on the W-2! The support chat person Joselito(?) told me that my social security INCOME was fouling up the amount of my IRA deduction. (Obviously someone does not know what a 401k OR W-2 form is.) I gave up on that.

I've used Taxcut for TEN YEARS!! And every year it gets a little tougher as my financial picture gets a little more complicated. I've also had to learn a lot of new interfaces and "looks" over the years but it has worked for me..UNTIL TODAY!

The bummer is that I doubt that there is much of an alternative. And it doesn't appear that they have any plan for fixing it this season or in future seasons. The website said that the warning message item appears in 2002,2003,2004, and 2005 editions. Did it also turn into a warning and prevent e-filing in those years?

I haven't been impressed with TURBO TAX in the past, but maybe I will try it next year.

Posted by: JJ Brand at April 1, 2006 07:46 PM

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