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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 5, 2012 / 14 Nissan, 5772

Tax prep: time to get serious, dudes

By Mark Kellner



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Procrastinators of the United States are a little lucky this year: for 2012, tax-filing day is April 17. Normally it's the 15th, but this year that's a Sunday, and the next day is Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia and Patriots' Day in Massachusetts. So, we all get 48 more hours to sweat over our returns.

Or not -- if you're using online tax preparation services such as Intuit's TurboTax or H&R Block At Home. Boxed versions of each firm's tax software are also available at office supply stores and many warehouse club stores, but I'm told that doing this online is far more popular.

While there's a number of providers out there, this year I've returned to two favorites: the Block firm and TurboTax. Arguably, these two are the industry leaders, and with good reason. Each has a long history in the field, each is a respected brand name, and each has such a large user base that the providers can (and do) put in a lot of research and development each year to make things work well.

Both companies will charge equal amounts for your returns: $49.95 for their "deluxe" products - aimed at users who need more than just a simplified 1040 form, but don't have rental properties or are solely self-employed, and an extra $39.95 to prepare and file a state tax return. I wish the latter price were lower at either TurboTax or Block, since almost all of the data and information used in a state return is entered in the preparation process for the federal return. But even at a total of $90, that's generally less than you'd pay walking into an accountant's office, and, whatever you spend is deductible - on next year's return.

The big advance this year, however, is for those with very simple tax needs: both Block and TurboTax will give you an app for your smartphone that'll allow you to take a picture of your W-2 form, enter some additional data, and - presto! - have a federal tax return ready to electronically file - and all for free. (The state returns are extra, usually around $30.) Now, this is for people who would normally file a "1040-EZ," which omits most of us earning above a certain level, or who have children, or are homeowners, or take other, usually itemized, deductions. That group is in the "you get to pay for all of this" category.

Both TurboTax and Block, online, work in an interview format: you fill in information, answer questions - did you buy a home last year? - add numbers and come up with an expected refund (or payment). Both firms' systems are easy to follow and are difficult to mess up; besides, up until the moment you click to file, both systems are rather forgiving and let you retrace your steps to change things and correct mistakes.

Both will also examine your return for potential audit problems, and offer a degree of advice on how to handle things. H&R Block offers a "live" service where you and a preparer can work together online; TurboTax has people online to help, too.

With both services rather equally matched, what's a user to do? In this case, I really believe it boils down to which firm you're most comfortable with, and if you've had prior, positive experiences with one, you're likely to return. I'm leaning towards TurboTax this year, because they've given me good service in most of the years gone by. But H&R Block's offering is also very appealing, and is certainly worth investigating, especially if you're new to the online tax-prep scene.

One word of advice, no matter who you use: be sure to password protect your files as much as possible. Income tax returns contain enough data for an identity thief to practically clean you out, and before you even know it. If there's any situation where safeguarding data is crucial, this is it.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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© 2012, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com

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