Sunday, April 04, 2010

Our Taxes with a Twist

Our taxes are done. Not yet filed, but at least they're done. This year I ran a little experiment. The good people at Intuit have been kind enough to give me a copy of TurboTax to play around with. However, knowing that I am not very good at doing this kind of thing, I figured I'd use TurboTax first, but then still visit our accountant to do our taxes. I could then compare the results of these two methods, and maybe even do our taxes on my own next year. What do you think happened?

Well, according to TurboTax we deserve a Federal refund of $2,878 and a California state refund of $5,392. Sweet. According to my accountant, we deserve a Federal refund of $3,042 and a state refund of only $2,313... Now that's one hell of a difference, especially on the state side...

So what's going on? I don't know and I think it's pretty complex to figure out exactly what the differences are. I plan to sit down with both of the returns and try to compare them. However, if I were to put my money on it (which I sort of have to, I guess), I would have to go with my accountant.

Our tax return is not hugely complex, but it's not a simple one either. In addition to W-2s, we had a veritable zoo of 1099s, foreign income and foreign trust distribution... I have a feeling that TurboTax is not meant for folks like us.

I will say this: if all you need to enter are some W-2s and 1099s, TurboTax makes the process simple and easy, in most cases simply downloading the information directly from our employers and financial institutions. I have never tried to do our own taxes before and (with the exception of the substantial discrepancy I pointed out above) the process was not intimidating or overly complex at all. Maybe I'll try TurboTax again next year if I can figure out what went wrong here.

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