Software Still Beats Out Web Sites for Preparing Returns
Barron's Online (02/12/01) Vol. 105, No. 4 p.D1; Carey, Theresa W.; Yakal, Kathy

It is tax-return season, and there are a multitude of products available to assist in preparation. Simple returns can be handled on the Web through preparation sites at H.D. Vest, Intuit, 2nd Story Software, and H&R Block. They can all handle the simple returns and some of the complicated ones, and they all check for errors and omissions and offer the chance to fix them. All allow either printing or electronic filing, and no fees are charged until the filing decision is made. But most sites are thinner versions of desktop products--users cannot see the form itself, and software offers much more help and guidance. Online products do not offer much help, and they are slow for those with dial-up connections. However, 2nd Story's TaxACT Online is much like its software counterpart and includes preparation for the next tax year and more help than most. The software market essentially includes just two products: TaxCut and Intuit's TurboTax. Both products offer lots of help and this year are weighted toward frequent traders. TaxCut brings in all data from sister financial programs at once, while TurboTax imports it as needed. Both deal with Section 1256 contracts and straddle accounting, and both can handle business-use-of-home accounting. Overall, software is a better bet than online sites.

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