capsule review

TaxCut Premium + State + E-File

At a Glance
  • H&R Block Taxcut Premium Federal + State + Efile (Full Product)

    PCWorld Rating

TaxCut wins points for simplifying its purchase process this year. Instead of having to choose between Basic, Premium, or Deluxe, you're offered one version for federal returns and need decide only whether to buy state return software and prepay your e-filing fees. TaxCut + State + E-File costs $60; Premium + State costs $30; and Premium (for federal returns only) costs $20.

The TaxCut CD-ROM initially took longer to install than the others, although the process sped up towards the end. This year, at least, it's better to file with TaxCut later rather than sooner--during my testing in mid-January, I received a message that additional updates were coming January 31, two weeks later.

Then came a bunch of e-filing instructions, one of which informed me that TaxCut doesn't support e-filing over proxy servers, so I shouldn't expect to be able to file during lunch hour if I were connected to a corporate server. I wish these instructions had been made clearer.

When I was ready to e-file, TaxCut asked for a key code that was supposedly on a sheet of paper in the box. After spending some time searching for this paper (which I feared I had thrown out), I eventually found it instead on the back of the CD-ROM sleeve.

At least I did get one bonus--the will-creation software package WillPower, which is bundled with TaxCut.

You can import last year's return from TaxCut or TurboTax, although when I clicked on a link that I thought would give specific instructions on how to do this, I was treated to an unrelated promotional video for H&R Block. (I eventually found the import instructions through a less-obvious route.) The interview process was similar to that of the online version--comprehensive, with links to clear explanations.

But I wasn't too happy with the overall navigation process. TaxCut didn't let me enter information directly on IRS tax forms; instead, I had to use a "Background Worksheet." Also, the Show Form button showed only the worksheet instead of the actual IRS form. When I clicked on a "Learn more about" link, I was sometimes routed to the Internet to download a video, when all I wanted was a quick text explanation.

But here's the program's most annoying habit: Once I entered data for a return, TaxCut saved it even though I had given instructions not to do so after closing.

At first I couldn't find a way to delete such data, so I went to the Help Center, which told me to find the return I wanted to delete, right-click on it, and a pop-up box would appear. I right-clicked, but nothing happened. I finally clicked on the Browse box--and this got the pop-up to work so I could delete the file. TaxAct needs to work on making it easier to delete information you don't want saved and start over again.

While TaxCut is generally solid and well-priced (and the included access to H&R Block tax pros for one free question will appeal to those seeking a bit of the human touch), the package still falls short of archrival TurboTax in general user-friendliness.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Comprehensive interview.
    • Imports TurboTax, Quicken and Microsoft.

    Cons

    • Awkward navigation process.
    • Some instructions are hard to find.
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