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Turbo Tax through online banking – a review

I’ve used Turbo Tax for the annual tax filing ritual for the last several years. Typically I purchase a CD from Costco each January because they have a nice coupon and it’s cheaper than buying directly from Intuit. This year, I decided to explore the option for Turbo Tax online as a link from within online banking at my credit union. My overall experience was very good, but there was one glitch that provides a valuable lesson for support organizations.

Determine the cost.

My first step was to compare the total cost of using the online version through the credit union to purchasing the disks at Costco. Total cost includes federal version (I use Deluxe Version), federal filing fee, state version, and state filing fee. When I compared the two, the Costco route was about $2 cheaper. But I would eat that in tax and gas money getting over there, so I considered the expense a wash and decided to go with the Turbo Tax route.

Pay when you complete.

One of the first things I noticed about the online version is that you don’t pay until you complete the tax preparation process and are satisfied. Great feature Intuit!  With that said, it was also where I created a problem for myself.

I thought I would explore the online experience quickly to see if matched the CD version so I followed the link from within online banking. It asked me if I had an existing Turbo Tax online account. I answered no, so it created one. On the opening page, it asked me if I had 2009 tax data to import whether online or from a file on my computer. I did have a 2009 file, but I wasn’t ready for that yet so I just moved ahead in the steps without it.  I quickly saw that the online interface was similar, if not the same, as what I experienced when I used the disc version.

Finding a bug.

When I returned the next week to complete the taxes, I initiated a session and navigated to the home screen to start the process again. I indicated that I wanted to load my 2009 data from a file. Unfortunately, it would never prompt me for the location of the file. Instead, it continued to automatically load my name and data as I had entered it during my trial run. Automatically loading my data is a feature of the integration with online banking. However, the ability to load a 2009 file was not working now. It was skipping the step to prompt me for location and automatically assuming information from my account.

Turbo Tax support line was clueless.

I will say that Turbo Tax support in general is very good. I found an abundance of help articles through simple search in their online help panel. That’s an efficient process and it’s well done. However for this issue I had clearly found a bug. I needed to ask a live person if there was a work-around. The first gentlemen I spoke with said he didn’t know there was a Turbo Tax version that worked through online banking. He documented the problem and sent me to another department. After several tries, I finally explained to the next lady what was happening. I’m not sure she fully understood, but she did tell me that I had multiple accounts registered. Two of three account names were entirely numeric. One of those must have been from the automatic account creation on my first entry. The other account was something I had registered directly with Turbo Tax to test loading a 2009 tax file (which worked perfectly). She was not able to solve the problem though, and could only recommend to type everything again or use the account I had created manually.

Getting a reset.

Being the stubborn guy that I am, I had one more thing to try. I called my credit union and asked if they could reset my integration to Turbo Tax so that it didn’t auto-supply the account name that was created on my first entry. They did that.

On the next login, when prompted for an existing account with Turbo Tax online, I supplied the account I had created directly and it hooked my session to it.  Bingo. Now I had access to the 2009 tax data without having to rekey information that carries forward each year.

What is the business lesson here?

The support group at Intuit, while courteous and patient with me, didn’t understand how the integrated product worked from online banking. This is a key feature to understand because Intuit partners with many organizations to provide this service. It’s a convenience for the customer because it auto-loads certain information and typically contains a discount off list price from purchasing the service direct from Intuit. I don’t think my incident will make the bug list for Turbo Tax online because the two agents I spoke with never really acknowledged that what I was trying to do was supported.

Another year of taxes completed.

I did complete the process online this year and submitted my tax returns for federal and state. The process was almost identical to using the disc version. One nice thing was I didn’t have to wait for it to download updates.  So it looks like I’ll stick with the online version again next year.   Oh by the way. My total cost was about $62. That sounded pretty good when I found out how much a few of my friends payed to take their tax documents in to a tax preparation service shop.

 

 

Turning your thoughts into action

We’ve all been there. You’re consuming some type of media (blog, book, video, podcast, lecture, etc.) and you’re thinking about how you can apply this new knowledge to your life. In your mind, you can conquer problems, move mountains, improve processes, help others, etc. But then you finish your meal of information and thought all that knowledge is often forgotten and lost. Why does this happen? Do we decide that we’ll never be able to make those improvements? Do we think the ideas are nice to think about but not yet ready for prime time life? It’s nice to think about using a new method for time management, business improvement, or relationship building. But when you finish the material and life happens, then the idea is lost. You move on to the next think crying out for your attention.

The biggest contributor to forgetting the information is that we don’t have a system or process for documenting and following-up with the learnings. This information must be captured just like other actionable items. Record the thought in a place that you can access later, or better yet, record the thought in a place that you will access later.

It’s not difficult. It takes a little discipline and forethought. Here are some ways you can turn your thoughts into action:

One

Record your thoughts in your ‘to-do’ or task list. You have one of these right? It could be the task tracker in your email program such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Lotus Notes, or Google Mail. Your list should include some type of designator so that you can record your thought as an idea or specific task with a priority. This way, you’ll be reminded of the thought periodically. If the item becomes aged without any progress, as with tasks, you should ask yourself if its really worth doing.

Two

Write a review on sites such as Plaxo, Amazon, BookReview.com, or even Facebook. This idea is slightly different because you are recording your thoughts for others to consume. If you use this type of process make sure to list out what you consider to be key learnings or the main ideas for what you are reviewing. Make sure that your reviews are searchable so that when you want to recall a key learning sometime later that you can easily find it.

Three

Record your thoughts into a journal, blog entry, electronic notebook, or other organizer such as Microsoft One Note. Think of these tools as a filing system. Tag the content with adequate keywords so that you can retrieve the information later. You may even choose to keep a to-do list in this format.

What about you?

How do you organize your learnings for follow-up and implementation? Do you have a different system than mentioned above?