software: TurboTax lameness

After a long break I bought TurboTax to do taxes. Intuit has had 20+ years to get this software right. Let’s see how they’re doing.

Re-enter contact info

I have to enter my name, address, and phone number to register TurboTax. Then TurboTax makes me re-enter this stuff when filling out “Personal Info.” Why not assume the first return I create is for myself?

A browser text field remembers all previous entries so that you get field memory for free… but this sadly isn’t a browser.

Importing confusion

I began by assuming I have to request an extension. But part-way into filling out the form for an extension, it starts asking me (note the ^%$#@! program won’t let me copy and paste text into this blog post, unlike a browser) “Enter Your 2012 Federal Tax Payments”. I’m running Quicken 2011 Deluxe, the info is already in that program. I had to abandon filling out this form to Import from Quicken. TurboTax knows where Quicken is on-disk, it should detect it during installation and offer to import before getting started.

The import from Quicken includes dividend and interest income that Quicken downloaded from from my financial institutions. Some of the dividend information is from an IRA. The IRA money should not be taxed, yet in TurboTax it shows up as dividend income. Why doesn’t the ^%$#@! import from Quicken ask about the tax status of the account? I named it “Rollover IRA“, that should be a clue to say “We imported this information, but let’s see whether it really applies”? So much for trying to save me money.

The left download doesn’t know what the right download did

Meanwhile TurboTax can also contact my financial institution to download tax information. I let it do so and it grabs my 1099 information, very nice. But now I have two sources for the same financial data, “Name of account” from Quicken and “Name of Financial Institution” from TurboTax. Mindblowingly, Quicken and TurboTax have no way to tell each other “this is the same information, don’t count it twice”, even though the same company wrote both download modules! The TurboTax summary screen doesn’t indicate which info came from which import, nor does My Tax Data (it only shows “Import”, but not what kind). There’s no way on the summary screen to say “These two sources of information overlap, guide me what I should do”

Every time I deal with this imported information I click [Edit] to see the details, then when I decide I don’t need it, I need to go Back and [Delete] it. But unlike a browser, this ^%$#@! software does not have a reliable Back button.  I have to click buttons at random to resume my Easy Interview and then click Next and Done a lot to skip ahead to the place I was just at. A browser is a better way to navigate.

It turns out that deleting the import didn’t actually get rid of the information. I had to go into File > Remove Imported Data and choose the Quicken items that conflicted with the Financial Institution import items. and remove them. But this left a bunch of “Untitled” transactions in “Investment Sales Summary”, which I then had to [Delete] by hand.

TurboTax questions don’t match Quicken categories

Quicken has a category for tax refund. But stupidly, it isn’t separated into State Tax refund (1099G) and federal tax refund. So TurboTax gets the combined info for both. And stupidly, TurboTax doesn’t let you drill into the individual payments that it imported from its own sibling product. They should be in a supporting statement where I can copy and paste lines, instead there’s just a summary total from Quicken Deluxe. There are many other places where Quicken’s categories don’t match TurboTax’s questions: medical expenses, property taxes, etc. In every case I have to modify the info from Quicken, add it up again, and then worry if the numbers appear somewhere else in TurboTax. TurboTax can handle individual transactions, e.g. for charitable deductions it creates separate information for each payment in category Charity from Quicken.

Miscellaneous

Whenever I enter a number in Quicken there’s an instant calculator available. In TurboTax there’s no such thing.

To be fair, TurboTax calculated my tax, upgraded butter-smooth to Premier, and is pretty well cross-linked between interview, summaries, and forms. But I expect perfect integration with Quicken 2011 Deluxe, and I didn’t get it.

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