Are there any tax preparation services that actually provide useful services? I’ve used five, and none of them import more than my name and address from my previous tax filings. It seems like all they do is provide a user interface on top of the IRS tax forms that’s marginally better than filling them out myself. I think I might be better off making my own Excel or Google spreadsheets for the tax forms I use, so that I can just copy and update them each year.

I will continue to use the tax prep services because of their audit protection insurance. But come on, can’t they pre-fill some of my tax return?

Features I’d like to see

Asset Depreciation History

The most useful and easy to implement feature that I’d like to see from any of the tax services, is importing my depreciating assets from previous tax returns. I have to enter their depreciation history each year, so it’s a simply a clone of previous years, plus what I’m going to depreciate this year. And the tax service can suggest the expected depreciation for this year while giving me the option to modify it.

Automatic Imports

Most of the info we fill in on our taxes, is available online on various websites. I’ve seen some progress on this front from TurboTax, but it’s pretty minimal. Last time I checked, they only imported a W2 from ADP. And that process was more complicated than just entering the info from the W2 I was sent in the mail.

Services they could import data from:

  • Investment and retirement account providers
    • Services: Fidelity, Vanguard, Prudential
    • Tax related accounts: 401k, IRA, Roth IRA, Realized gains/losses from personal investments
  • Banks
    • Basically all banks have online account access, and many provide expense classifications. So they could import all my charitable donations and deductible expenses and depreciable asset purchases.
    • They could also run some analyses to determine if I’m forgetting to include misc income or if I missed classifying an expense as tax deductible.
  • W2 from ADP and Workplace
  • Sales
    • Income from Etsy, RedBubble, Threaded, etc

Services I’ve Used

  • Credit Karma taxes / CashApp Taxes
    are free, and have a pretty good interface. But they don’t provide as much help and extra services as the two paid service I’ve tried. I do like their interface better than TaxACT though.
  • TaxACT
  • TurboTax
    has the best features, but they’re also the most expensive by a large amount; they also use deceptive, almost scam like marketing tactics, and they’re a major reason why the IRS doesn’t just send us a bill.