capsule review

CompleteTax Premium (2009)

At a Glance
  • CCH CompleteTax Premium (2009)

    PCWorld Rating

    This site offers a fairly priced choice for tax-savvy filers who don't need much help.

As a site for preparing your tax return, CCH's CompleteTax is a lot like TaxBrain, but at half the price. CompleteTax Premium is best suited for people who have a solid working knowledge of taxes and are confident preparing their own returns. Novices and worriers may find themselves taking longer than they would with other sites because they'll likely have to do more research to understand many of the questions they're answering--CompleteTax doesn't place very much instruction or guidance on the questionnaires themselves.

This isn't to say that CompleteTax isn't worthwhile--it just has its niche. For instance, though the site design has gotten sleeker and more sophisticated-looking since last year, it still has a lot of white space and a sterile feel. Clearly, when it comes to taxes, function is more important than form--but some users may balk at the no-frills look and the lack of hand-holding guidance.

Nonetheless, the tabs across the top are very good for navigation--it was fairly easy to jump around to different parts of the return. When you're not sure where to go, the search tool is helpful: When I couldn't figure out where to enter student loan interest, typing a few keywords into the search function of the help column (on the right side of the screen) quickly produced what I needed to know.

CompleteTax provides little upfront help on how to classify a stock sale.
There was little up-front assistance on more complicated matters such as determining how to classify a stock sale or what may be included under "other deductible expenses," though digging through the site's Tax Guide 2009 answers many questions if your eyes don't glaze over first. Users who scour the help section and still have questions will have to swallow a $5 charge just to chat online with a support person.

CompleteTax's W2 screen looks the most like an actual W2 form, which reduces the chance of errors when keying in data.
CompleteTax can import W-2s from W-2 eXpress, ADP, and Ceridian, which saves time. The site offers a W-2 input screen that, of those in the services reviewed, looks the most like an actual W-2 form, which considerably reduces the chance for keying in errors if you must enter the information manually. Other sites should take a cue from CompleteTax in this regard.

Overall, sophisticated users will probably do just fine with CompleteTax and should take a look at it if they're also considering TaxBrain, but the rest of us will likely have a harder time. At $30 for a federal return and $20 for a state one, CompleteTax is fairly priced.

--Tina Orem

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This site offers a fairly priced choice for tax-savvy filers who don't need much help.

    Pros

    • Fairly priced

    Cons

    • Best for those who have solid tax knowledge
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