Tax Time Made Easier Online

Alison Stewart
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April 08, 2005
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It’s that time of year again. The dreaded tax deadline is almost here, and if you are a procrastinator and haven’t done your taxes yet, there’s an affordable online savior for you — webbased tax software.

I’m personally a big fan of these online tax services because there’s no hassle with trying to figure out what all the different forms mean and what you’re supposed to do with them. With all the electronic options out there these days, who wants to sit and manually fill out those forms?


There are several options out there for you last-minute do-it- yourselfers.

I’ve been using Intuit’s TurboTax for years and I still think it’s the best. Back in the 1990s, I started off with the TurboTax software you can buy in the store, and now I just use it online. When you first begin, it can be a little confusing because it has you choose what level to go with: 1040EZ, Basic or Premier. Once you get past that, it takes you through an easy step-by-step process and asks you questions that pertain to your return. It’s also smart enough to bypass major sections of the questions that are not relevant to you, enabling you to go through the procedure with speed and accuracy.

If you’re a first-timer, the whole thing takes about an hour, as long as you have all your W-2s and other necessary paperwork in order. If you’re a returning TurboTax user, it will remember your information from the previous year(s), which makes it even more efficient. Being a returning user, it took me only about half an hour to do both my federal and state taxes this year. TurboTax for the Web (www.turbotax.com) is $9.95 for federal and state each for the 1040EZ option, Basic is $19.95 (federal) and $24.95 (state), and Premier is $39.95 (federal) and $24.95 (state). You can also try www.statetaxfreedom.com (powered by TurboTax) to see if you qualify for a free return.

Other options out there include TaxAct (www.taxact.com), TaxNet (www.taxnet.com) and H&R Block’s online service (www.hrblock.com). If you have a simple return, TaxAct and TaxNet are the best free deals for both federal and state with a printed version (or paying a small $8 or $10 fee to e-file). H&R Block’s program gets the job done, but it’s a bit lengthy, often asking duplicate questions. Prices are $34.95 (federal) and $24.95 (state) for the Standard option and Premium is $49.95 (federal) and $34.95 (state).


BlackBerry — The Ultimate All-in-One Phone Organizer

I have a friend who’s constantly on the road, and I suggested to her that she should really get BlackBerry to help her get organized and check e-mail while traveling. Not being a techsavvy girl, she really didn’t know what I was talking about, and I had to explain to her that I wasn’t referring to the fruit.

BlackBerry is all the buzz, but a lot of folks still don’t know what it is. It’s basically a wireless connectivity solution that gives you access to a wide range of applications on a variety of wireless devices around the world. It combines devices, software and services to keep you connected to the people, data and resources that drive your day. With an integrated phone that includes a browser, organizer, SMS (Short Message Service) and applications, you can organize all information and communications with one single integrated BlackBerry device.

People often get BlackBerry confused with WiFi and Bluetooth. In a nutshell, think of it this way:WiFi is wireless ethernet. It has identical application and uses, but without the wires. Bluetooth is similar to Infrared (IR), but without the necessity of line of sight, and it has better distance reach. BlackBerry is like a two-way pager that has a directory connector to an Exchange server, thus enabling you to constantly check your e-mail.


T-Mobile BlackBerry 7100t

This BlackBerry technology brings you the freedom to stay in touch with work and home, using existing company or personal e-mail accounts. The devices available to you are dependent upon what service you have, or want to have. TMobile offers the BlackBerry 7100t, Nextel, the BlackBerry 7520, and Cingular Wireless, the BlackBerry 7290.

T-Mobile’s BlackBerry 7100t is a full-featured mobile phone with integrated Bluetooth connectivity, speakerphone, and downloadable ringtones. Plus you can surf the Internet with an ultra-large, high-resolution color screen. This phone allows you to stay connected anytime with up to 10 e-mail accounts, delivered to the palm of your hand. You can also use its easy-to-use keyboard to instant message your buddies via Yahoo, AIM or ICQ. This one appeals to me the most with its relatively compact size. The retail price is $299.99 on www.tmobile.com.


Nextel BlackBerry 7520

The Nextel BlackBerry 7520 is the only BlackBerry handheld that combines Bluetooth, Direct connect and speakerphone. It features a personal organizer and web browser, supports Nextel Online® Wireless Web and Direct Connect. Other features include Java software applications and enhanced attachment viewing. The retail price is $249.99 on www.nextel.com.


Cingular Wireless BlackBerry 7290

The BlackBerry 7290 from Cingular Wireless includes a quad-band phone, e-mail, SMS, browser and organizer applications and Bluetooth. Retails for $399.99 on www.cingular.com. BlackBerry devices are available at your nearest GCI Wireless store. Call for availability (www.gciwireless.com).

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