Tax software choice

Tax software choice


I do taxes inside a virtual machine that has no network connection. Installing the state component for H&R Block requires a network connection, so getting that onto a disconnected VM is a little trickier, but not impossible. They might also sell a version that doesn’t require an internet connection.


I made a concerted effort to eliminate junk snail mail a few years ago. It was impossible! :angry:

I signed up with an app where I could take a picture of the mail and it would supposedly send a request on my behalf to be removed from the mailing list. I could check my account with them to verify that, indeed, a request had been submitted. Still, the junk continued to come from the same mailer.

I opted out of junk mail via a website that works like a do-not-call-list for mailers. It didn’t work. Mailers don’t check it and many aren’t even aware such a do-not-mail-to list exists.

I manually reported junk mail with another website. Just like the app, it would show that they submitted the request to remove me. Still, the junk came.

I called the mailers directly and told them to remove me from their mailing list. I emailed, when possible, and told them to remove me. Still, they continued to send the mail.

They just don’t care what people want. They will continue to send their marketing junk, regardless.

I’m not saying that companies are violating their policies by selling contact info. You might be listed in an online database, like

Here is how they get their information:

There are many ways to find people online:

Given that, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about your information being sold. It’s already out there.


The subject of getting off mailing lists probably deserves another thread. It took a few years, but I was able to cut down on spam significantly by opting out of mailings and PII sharing from every business I have a relationship with and from any business that sent me something without a relationship.

Are you talking about I said I was dead on their opt out form, since that was the only way to do a permanent removal. All other choices were temporary. I stopped receiving legit catalogs after that. If one slipped through (usually due to a legit business relationship), I’d call until they stopped sending me stuff. It often takes more than one call. The most common spam I get now are things that are delivered by USPS to every mailbox (addressed to “local postal customer”), ads from local real estate agents, and an occasional mortgage offer from what looks like fly-by-night operations.

BTW I was fully expecting to show up dead in some govt database because of what I said on the DMA form, but that hasn’t happened. Yet. :smile:


Yes. I didn’t get that drastic. :laughing:


Thanks for the info on I will check it out. So far I have been doing pretty good avoiding obvious sites that suck your info. When I can not avoid them I use a junk email address and let them waste electrons sending to a address I pay no attention to. For the few that do slip thru to my main Email I use Thunderbird Email “junk” tool to get sent to Junk folder and get deleted a week later.


I’d love if the DNM stuff could be split into a separate thread.


There were a few excellent threads on FW on the subject and I have some of my own notes. Let me see if I have enough to start a topic and fill in a FAQ of sorts.


Here you go:


If you’re creating a spreadsheet, I’d recommend having a separate tab for all of the items that change. Then you link the numbers in that tab to somewhere else in the workbook, so that when those change you can just quickly make the change instead of having to find each formula that used those numbers in the following years.

Also, the workbook will likely increase in size over time due to adding additional forms and functionality. Because of that, every time you link to or from a cell, I’d recommend noting it in the spreadsheet. Once you get the hang of it it really isn’t that difficult and it will save you a lot of time in the trying to deal with broken formulas.


I use a few columns for each year in a single worksheet. At the end of the year I just copy those columns for a new year, which copies values and formulas and allows me to update new values without losing the old ones or looking for any formulas.


Will all this talk of spreadsheets are these really complicated returns (abnormal businesses, etc) or you’re just doing basic stuff like tax brackets and normal other income stuff?

I’m lazy and just use the tax software as my spreadsheet and error check the generated forms and summaries and see if they make sense.

The software is so cheap, I paid ~$8 this year including the efile. That’s like 10 minutes of my time or less at day job.


Mine includes W2 income, 1099 interest & capital gains, HSA contributions, plus I have to make manual adjustments to account for muni bond income that’s taxable on my state tax return.

Once you set up a spreadsheet, it’s easy to adjust as your circumstances change. I also have the federal and state tax rates right on the spreadsheet, so it’s easy to change the formula if you move through the brackets.


Got it thanks. Spreadsheet basically means “one simple equation” then. I was imagining complicated spreadsheets. No state income tax here makes things a little simpler, too.


You’re welcome. A good place to start is with last year’s tax return to get the basic regular stuff on your spreadsheet. I update ours regularly with YTD paycheck info and monthly investment info from statements. It’s a great way to make sure the withholding is where we need it to be. We make adjustments to withholding as needed.


Mine is pretty robust, but it was developed over several years. As my situation changes I have to add in additional functionality, but it definitely wasn’t something that I sat down and spent a whole week creating at once. I still have situations where I’ve setup an alert if something I enter results in me having to make functionality changes to the workbook (such as hitting some threshold that requires calculations of additional tax). If I haven’t hit that threshold yet, the calculations are not in the workbook - just a notification that I have to create the calculations.

It’s really whatever works for you though. If you’re fine with just a column of line numbers on the 1040 and formulas in certain cells, that’s exactly what you should do (and that’s where I’d start either way). Then if you decide you want to see more, you can slowly build that in.

Biggest takeaway - don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be for your specific needs.


I don’t know what you consider complicated. My spreadsheet is almost as detailed as my tax return (which now includes Schedules A through E). I have separate spreadsheets that give me schedules C and E. I don’t have separate fields or worksheets for every other form or schedule, but I do have a cell for every field on Form 1040 (and my state’s 540) that affects me, and the few cells in between for the required mini-calculations. At the end, the amount owed or refund is usually within ~ $5 (and only because I use the exact formula and tax software uses the less precise tax tables).


I guess I don’t care about the individual fields on the tax forms and let the software sort all those out. I think of it as mostly: X is everything that should be taxed as regular income Y is long term capital gains, etc. A B C D deduct from regular deduct from taxable regular income. Foreign tax credits back against tax amount. I don’t have a schedule C either the last couple years, and I didn’t have many deductions for it - no depreciation and things. I can see how many people would have more complex things, especially in subset of people who itemize. I itemize but my deductions seem pretty straightforward. The majority of the population has much less complicated than mine though.

I might actually start up a spreadsheet if I do estimated taxes, I’ve avoided those in the past. I might try doing them on purpose next year for easy credit card spend.


You will start caring once your spreadsheet doesn’t match the software and you need to debug :wink:.


Been using turbo tax for the last 20 years.
No issues.


I notice Amex has $10 off offers if you spend $30 (buying from HRBlock) and they have been claiming unusually low prices if you buy now.

I bought and I notice that what you get warns that updates will come (Jan. 5, 2018) and interview questions are not finalized yet.

As I commented in starting the topic, you may want a copy now to do tax planning. With a new tax law likely applying to 2018 if may pay to push some items into 2017 (such as ones that wold apply if you itemize, and it appears you will not itemize in 2018 due to the larger standard deductions).

Block has an override feature so you can substitute certain numbers to reflect the new law. For instance, I tried set the exemptions at 0 (new possible law) and changing the child tax credits to reflect the new $2,000 value, two that for me have offsetting effects. You could try the same with the new standard deductions.