I finally bit the bullet and decided it was time to do my taxes. TaxAct seemed tempting -- free to try, pay when you file. So, I entered all the info into TaxAct. Mostly, I skipped the interview questions and filled out the forms directly -- my tax return mostly consists of entering information from various 1099s, so it's not all that complicated.
Initially, therefore, I didn't see much of a difference between TaxAct and its costlier brethren. Towards the end, though, the surprises started. First, it said I owed the Alternate Minimum Tax (AMT). Well, that is possible, I suppose. And a rather stiff tax underpayment penalty. However, I went and added quarter-by-quarter income and got the Federal penalty nearly waived. Still, TaxAct was of no help in this process. Whatever money you'd have saved by using tax software, you'd have lost if you didn't realize that breaking out your income by quarter could get rid of the underpayment penalty.
The Oklahoma return experience was incomparably worse. Nearly to the finish line, I get this:
Now trying to decide if I should go to an accountant, or should do what I did in previous years and use Turbo Tax. What do you think?
UPDATE: I repeated the whole exercise on Turbo Tax. When it comes to the AMT and figuring out underpayment penalties, Turbo Tax also sucks. I went back and looked at TaxAct's final numbers and they were $115 lower. I could not figure out what the difference was: I think it just comes down to how the two programs interpret the tax laws. Anyway, I filed using TaxAct.