Macworld guide to 2011 tax software

Though you have plenty of time right now, sooner or later, you’ll need to do your taxes before the April 17 deadline. (Taxes are usually due on April 15, but that date this year falls on a Sunday, and April 16 is a holiday in Washington D.C. So the government set April 17 as the tax deadline.) Fortunately, tax software on the Mac, for iOS, and online makes the process a lot easier.

But now that you have three platforms to choose from, which one should you use? If your taxes are simple (you’re using a 1040EZ form, or you don’t have a lot of deductions), you can go with one of the online services, or use your iPad or iPhone. For folks with complicated taxes (multiple forms, lots of deductions), you’re probably better off using a program for your Mac or one of the bigger online tax software packages—you could use your iPad, but you might find it frustrating to input data after a prolonged period of time.

Most of the tax programs available let you complete your tax return before you have to actually pay for the software. This allows you to try a program out to see if you like it. You pay for the software when you file your taxes. Each program charges a different fee for filing federal taxes, and they all charge a separate fee for filing state taxes.

Of course, you can also read our reviews to see which tax program is right for you. We have reviews of the top program listed below. Click on the links to read our reviews.

Online tax prep software

Using online software for your taxes is convenient and easy. There’s no need to download any software. Just launch your web browser, go to the tax software website, pick a plan, and you’ll be taken step-by-step through your taxes.

In our roundup of five different online tax programs, we found that Intuit’s TurboTax ( ) is the best of the bunch, with a friendly interface and great data import features. It’s not perfect, but it could be right for you. The other programs we reviewed are CCH CompleteTax Premium ( ), H&R Block At Home Premium ( ), Petz TaxBrain 1040 Premium ( ), and TaxAct Online Ultimate Bundle ( ).

Read our roundup of online tax prep software programs

iPad and iPhone tax apps

In this post-PC era, perhaps you’ve decided that you want to do you taxes on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Fortunately, there are a few apps for that. We have reviews of tax apps from Intuit and H&R Block, and we found that data input—especially with apps that rely on OCR of photographed W-2 forms—needs to be checked and double-checked.

Find the best mobile tax filing app for iOS

Mac tax software

Using a dedicated Mac tax application is a tried and true way to do your taxes. You can finish your tax return without an Internet connection (you’ll need a connection when it comes time to file). On the Mac, H&R Block At Home and Intuit TurboTax are the two big players. While both are great applications, we preferred TurboTax’s interface and clear instructions.

H&R Block At Home Premium 2011 review ( )

Intuit TurboTax Premiere 2011 review ( )

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