My computer uses Windows ME. It came that way. It works OK. Not always great, but good enough for me right now.
But some people don't think I should be OK with it. Bill Gates is one of them. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows ME several months ago. That's OK, I don't need their support and there's no good reason why I need to spend money to upgrade just now.
I went to install TurboTax this week. Intuit has been sending me a CD every year. I didn't ask for it, it just came every year. I liked the product so I installed it, entered my payment information, and away we go to taxland.
Not this time.
This time when I put in the CD it said I needed to upgrade to Windows XP or Vista.
Not now, I can't afford it. Its not worth spending a hundred bucks to put XP on an older machine, nor am I about to put up $700-800 on a new computer to get Vista. Not right now. I just want to get my taxes done!
I have no intention of upgrading my computer just because two software companies tell me to. I'll do it when I need more power and not before.
So TurboTax lost a customer. Probably for good.
It turns out that H&R Block's Tax Cut also shut out users of pre-XP versions of Windows.
Tax Act to the rescue! I'd seen an ad for Tax Act in the paper. I as skeptical of it, because they were offering free tax software. I figured there was a catch. There was a little one. Free was for a bare bones federal tax program. The state program cost extra.
But the deluxe Tax Act combines state and federal taxes and free federal filing for just twenty bucks. That's $25 cheaper than TurboTax, not including their charges for e-filing.
But is it any good? I checked out several reviews. It doesn't have all of the extra bells and whistles that TurboTax has, such as financial planners or the ability to download a 1099 DIV form from our broker, but I don't need those anyway. Everything I read said Tax Act was a solid and legitimate tax preparation software company, but without the frills.
Its also the underdog company. Underdog is looking out for the little guy. Tax Act works on ANY version of Windows except the long gone 3.1. Got Windows 95? You can use it. Got Vista? You can use it too!
So I bought it.
I'm about half way through our federal return. The process is barely distinguishable from TurboTax or Tax Cut.
So I guess I should thank TurboTax for forcing me to go to their competitor so I could save $25 bucks!
Make that a savings of $125 for also not having to go out and buy the Windows XP upgrade.