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Desktop vs. Online Tax Preparation

Desktop tax preparation offers some distinct advantages over online tax preparation as discussed on our home page. However, depending on your needs, online tax filing may be the proper choice for you.

Their is no doubt that the convenience of online tax preparation continues to draw more taxpayers every year. It is the dominant format used every tax season now.

The simplicity of online tax filing eliminates a lot of possible headaches that desktop tax software users are required to deal with. Some of these issues include.

  • Updating your software version
    • With the tax laws ever changing, it's a necessity to update your tax program to insure your using the latest tax laws needed to compute the proper figures on your return.
  • Software conflict with cumbersome programs
    • As you know, not all computer programs jell well with other software installed on your computer. Computer software conflicts often end up causing your computer to run slow or even lock-up causing that well known technology frustration to make the hair stand up on your neck.
  • Congestion of the hard drive
    • Depending on the size of your hard drive and the available capacity, you may be leaning toward maxing out your space and causing programs to fight for sectors which will end up fragmenting your hard drive.

Nevertheless, there are some distinct advantages to preparing your taxes with desktop tax software you install on your computers hard drive.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block

Online tax preparation offers some advantages over preparing them with desktop installation software. For starters you don't have to wait around for the installation and update procedures to play out. However, for taxpayers like myself, there are credible rewards to computer based tax filing programs like H&R Block (review) and TurboTax (review). You can review this years tax programs from these manufacturers by selecting the hyperlinks above to compare H&R Block and TurboTax product lines, as well as the benefits of preparing your taxes online versus with desktop software.

Fortunately the reusable nature of desktop tax software programs make them more affordable when you can split the cost and file multiple returns. It's a far better deal for households filing two or more federal tax returns.

However, single or married taxpayers who are filing jointly and only need to file a single federal and single state return can benefit from the lower cost of online tax preparation programs.

This is simplified with the quick process of e-filing your tax return for instant submission to the IRS which will save the time, effort, and cost of mailing it in. On top of that, you can expect to receive your refund much quicker with electronic tax return submission.

Compare Tax Filing Formats

At first glance, what you notice is that desktop tax filing programs appear to cost more than the online versions, but the list prices for online tax preparation typically only include federal tax returns. Once you add in the price of a state return which is usually represented in the price of desktop tax filing programs, along with the value of being able to prepare and file multiple tax returns, you may find the boxed tax software to be a better bargain for your family.

Both TurboTax and H&R Block offer software for preparing multiple returns. The difference between online and desktop apps is that you get five free federal e-files with the desktop versions, and one federal and one state e-file with the online versions.

Choosing Your Brand

With either tax software brand, households can get greater value from desktop software when you account for the advantage of getting five free federal e-files included in both TurboTax and H&R Block desktop software versions. With online versions you must pay for each federal and state tax return before you can file your documents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

With desktop versions, you can prepare multiple federal and state returns right away with a single software purchase, saving money and allowing you to split the cost among several tax filers.

Get it all done for less, Grandma needs to file to claim her Social Security income, Mom and Dad need to prepare and file their joint tax return, and Jr. needs to report his earnings from an after-school job. This is all made easy with one desktop application purchase.

The family can file their tax returns electronically all from the same program.

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