It's February, and your mailbox has already been filled with year-end statements, W-2 forms and 1099s. You know what that means ... time to start thinking (at least) about doing your taxes.So in the interest on discouraging procrastination, we're going to provide an overview of your tax-preparation options. Clearly, you can always opt for professional help. (For some encouragement to do your own taxes, see
The anti-piracy measures Intuit has taken to protect TurboTax are understandable, but can make its installation a bit inconvenient. As for C-dilla, Intuit has responded to concerns in no uncertain terms, saying that the monitoring software does not transmit any information from your computer to Intuit. To uninstall SafeCast or learn more about the product, see the Q&A at
Intuit's Web site H&R Block's TaxCut also provides a variety of packages, including Standard ($14.95), Deluxe ($24.95, includes one free federal electronic filing and one state product) and Platinum ($39.95, includes everything in the Deluxe version, plus additional research and one "Ask a Tax Advisor Service" after rebate). TaxCut Platinum allows households to complete multiple returns from different computers. It also includes a variety of tools to help calculate the tax consequences of stock options and other investments, as well as home-business issues. Taxbrain. Taxbrain's pricing depends on the form you file. The 1040EZ will cost just $19.95, the long form costs $39.95 and state returns are $12.95. Taxbrain has teamed up with John Wiley & Sons, publishers of the ubiquitous J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax 2003, to provide comprehensive aid in filling out the forms. Taxpayers can file electronically or print out the documents and mail them. Whether you choose to use Web-based software or install it on your computer is entirely a matter of preference. All three provide ample security for the information kept on Web clients, which is typically held for seven years. Given the chaotic pricing and plethora of package options all these companies offer, make sure you know how long your information is held and how you can access it before you purchase the software. Always keep a hard copy of your tax return and related documents, no matter what type of software or method of filing you choose.