File your 1999 taxes online
December 16, 1998
by Mike Hogan,
(IDG) -- If you're in the lower tax brackets and your tax situation is not too complicated, you can prepare your taxes on the Web this year and file electronically.
A new online-only tax service vendor and the two long-time tax software leaders offer these capabilities for prices that range from free to about $20, depending on your income level and the complexity of the return.
Thomson Investors Network will launch OneTax.com on December 22, offering Internet-based income-tax form preparation and electronic filing of both federal and state tax forms for individuals for $9.95.
OneTax.com relies on the same computation engine that Thomson has been using for Fortune 500 corporations. It uses a split screen and a folder metaphor that closely resembles those found in TurboTax and TaxCut. It doesn't duplicate real tax forms as these programs do, and it's limited to the federal 1040 and the main schedules of all 45 taxing states. It lacks schedules for business, farming, depreciation, and other complex tax situations.
You don't pay OneTax.com by credit card until you file your return electronically or print it out, so you are free to enter your tax information and "what if" different filing scenarios for free. You can even do this anonymously.
OneTax.com also promises to help with next year's return by storing personal and other information likely to be reused from year to year. Of course, that promise is only good as long as OneTax.com remains in business.
By comparison, list prices for the leading tax programs range from $19.95 for Kiplinger TaxCut Basic to $49.95 for TurboTax Deluxe, while business versions of the software can run as high as $90. However, price-cutting in tax software is such that the basic versions of these programs could sell for under $15.
Filing for free
Intuit and Block Financial offer tax preparation to low-income filers for free through their Web sites.
Block Financial announced on Tuesday the January 15 launch of its TaxCut 1040EZ Online project, whereby those who qualify to use the federal 1040EZ form can fill it out on the TaxCut site and file for free. The IRS estimates that some 24 million Americans qualify: those who earn less than $50,000 per year, do not itemize deductions, and have no dependents.
"We are targeting younger people without kids or a house, but they could be a couple filing jointly," says Block vice president Gene Goldenberg. "Most of the people using this product will not always file a 1040EZ, and we hope to capture them as customers for our deluxe product one day."
Block's Web edition of TaxCut Deluxe, minus the multimedia videos and supporting tax publications, is already available on the site for $19.95. That includes electronic filing but not state forms, which cost another $19.95.
Also around January 15, Intuit will launch the Quicken Tax Freedom Project as part of the release of its Web TurboTax edition. QTFP offers tax preparation for both federal and state taxes and electronic filing for individuals and couples with an adjusted gross income of $20,000 or less. For all others, filing both federal and state forms on Intuit's TurboTax Web site will cost between $9.95 and $19.95, depending on the number of forms used.
As with OneTax.com, you can try the Web versions of TurboTax and TaxCut before you buy. No one pays until it's time to file electronically, print out a return, or download the data to a hard drive.
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