Sunday, April 15, 2012

Income Tax Day, my 1st Electronic Filing Experience. April 15th 2012

Income Tax Day, my 1st Electronic Filing Experience. April 15th 2012. 

Since it is Income Tax Day today, even though we have a 2 day delay this year, I thought I would write my 1st total electronic filing experience down. 

I have always done my taxes myself.  Starting with paper and pencil long ago. Advancing to calculators and utilizing spread sheet assistance when computers came out.  I even was a VITA volunteer for a few years after I retired.  There were several very interesting experiences in that task.  As electronic filing started big time, I just could not bring my self to trust, so continued to use electronic aids but fill out the paper with pen and mail them in.

Last year the Indiana Dept of Revenue started a free online electronic filing, using their own web site.  So I gave it a try.  It worked out quite well.  So this year I decided I would try electronic filing both Fed and State. 

I investigated both Gov web sites to see if we qualified and it looked like we could file 'free E File'.  Both Fed and IN this year had passed the electronic filing off to electronic commercial tax preparers.  Several years ago I had purchased Turbo Tax to help prepare taxes.  So after reviewing the preparers I decided to go with Turbo Tax.  It looked like they would do it all, Fed and IN with Free E File.  (it it's free it's for me). 

 Going through and responding to the Turbo Tax interview questions was pretty straightforward.  I plugged in all the numbers and info, and answered all the yes and no questions.  It was very simple going from the Fed tax questions to the IN tax questions, as Turbo Tax used all the basic information plugged into the Fed Taxes, which is also the way it works when filling out by paper.  The only thing is, doing it by hand and paper, you have to rewrite a lot of stuff and fill out several more IN-DOR forms.  I promptly got down to the File and Print area. 

Whoa, before I could do anything further I had to pay $39.95 for 'preparing' the IN tax.  This was NOT stated anywhere.  It was obvious that the Federal prepared and E File was free, but the IN 'prepared work' required payment and then the E File was free.  You could save the information, HOWEVER it was in a format called .TAX2011.  From internet search it was not easy to convert for my records so I could copy it over to paper.  I did not feel comfortable sending my tax info to a web site for them to convert it.  Of course Turbo Tax did not want you using their software for all the calculations then fill out your own paperwork using their information. 

This became very frustrating.  I spent way way too much time trying to figure out how to get around this.  I could 'snippet' copy a summary from the screen.  This was sort of good as I could fill out the IN form and check my numbers against TurboTax to make sure I did everything right.  I could not find anyway to easily contact TurboTax to ask them what was going on.  I did post a question on a forum, but don't know if it was ever commented on.  Also I took several surveys and gave TurboTax a 0.  Still very frustrating. 

Finally I deleted the IN tax information from the file and E Filed the Fed taxes. I was getting a small refund from the IRS.  It was accepted by the IRS within an hour or so. 

Now I was ready to start preparing the IN taxes by hand.  But, 1st I checked the IN-DOR web site.  And right away found a place to contact them by email.  I explained the situation and my dilemma. I sent the email on a Wednesday evening.  Lo and Behold I had an email from IN-DOR the next morning.  A very polite and helpful email.  With a few emails back and forth, they indicated that it was supposed to be Free, they did not think TurboTax should charge for preparing the IN taxes.  They indicated that they had a 'for those who fell through the crack - code' that I could use that may cover my situation.  I tried will try it.

 After reentering the small amount of IN info again, then entering my code, I went promptly to the File and Print section.  Worked like a charm....  I had to pay some taxes to the IN-DOR (not enough to incur a penalty).   I received an acceptance within an hour or 2.  I was VERY impressed with the helpful nature of my email conversation with IN-DOR.

 If I had not run into that extremely frustrating $39.95 preparation charge from TurboTax, the electronic filing would have worked very well.  

 So done for this year.  What will next year bring?


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