Fast file, fast return

Tax filing software a growing business

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It's that time of year when Uncle Sam wants his piece of your pie. For a growing number of people that means filing taxes online, a practice which is becoming more commonplace among Americans every year.

One of the fastest growing trends in Web-based tax filing is TurboTax, tax-preparation software put out by Intuit, Inc.

According to company statistics, sales of the Web-based tax-preparation software are up 15 percent over last year as of earlier this month.

In late January, sales of the online version were up 33 percent to 162,000 users, compared to 122,000 a year ago. The Mountain View, Calif., company said it has sold more than 3.1 million copies of its federal and web-based versions of TurboTax software.

Dereck Zuver, manager at the Kmart in Craig, said the software has been in high demand recently among store customers.

"We've had at least 50 requests," he said.

But the store doesn't carry the software because it's not profitable, he said.

The tax-preparation software is selling fast at the Steamboat Springs Wal-Mart, said sales associate Mike Tallo.

He fields about 20 to 30 questions a day about different versions of the TurboTax software.

Different versions of the software range between $9.95 to $49.95. A basic package offers assistance on 1040EZ tax forms while more expensive versions help individuals with more complicated home and business income tax returns.

The idea that filing tax returns via a computer program will save money and time isn't always the case, said Missy Bonaker of Bonaker and Associates CPAs PC.

"(The programs) allow for mistakes if you don't know what you're doing," she said. "It's easy to plug numbers into a computer but if you don't know what your bottom line is going to be, you don't know if your going to be off or not."

One of the Bonaker's customers recently approached her after filling out a TurboTax form. Fortunately she recognized two huge mistakes before it was sent off.

"The numbers didn't add up," Bonaker said. "There are a lot of things that people don't know about like certain credits that people can use to their advantage."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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