Author Topic: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...  (Read 372 times)

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Offline Nan D.

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Been on H&R Block and Turbo Tax. Both let me get all the way through inputting info for Fed and State taxes, then popped up with "oh, you clicked the box saying you have a foreign bank account" so you'll have to use the paid version ($39+ for the Fed and more for the State). After all sorts of "file with us, we're free!" hype.

The Calif FTB is touting a service by Credit Karma for free taxes. I've done credit monitoring with them, but don't want my personal info out where the foreign address could end up in my credit report or anything like that. Does anyone actually use another online service that claims to be free that actually is - and is not selling your info to anyone?

I'm to the point of just printing out the forms and mailing them in, since my taxes are pretty simple. The "bait and switch" is just soooo annoying! >:(

Offline Anchor

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2018, 09:14:17 PM »
Been on H&R Block and Turbo Tax. Both let me get all the way through inputting info for Fed and State taxes, then popped up with "oh, you clicked the box saying you have a foreign bank account" so you'll have to use the paid version ($39+ for the Fed and more for the State). After all sorts of "file with us, we're free!" hype.

The Calif FTB is touting a service by Credit Karma for free taxes. I've done credit monitoring with them, but don't want my personal info out where the foreign address could end up in my credit report or anything like that. Does anyone actually use another online service that claims to be free that actually is - and is not selling your info to anyone?

I'm to the point of just printing out the forms and mailing them in, since my taxes are pretty simple. The "bait and switch" is just soooo annoying! >:(

You obviously missed it, but all the various versions of these products give details of what they will or will not cover. I am not aware of any free version that will handle foreign bank accounts.

I use H&R Block DeLuxe download and that covers my foreign bank account requirements (including Form 8938).

Offline Nan D.

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2018, 10:15:22 PM »
Well obviously, but I haven't seen anything indicating that on their websites.  Since I've never had more than $5,000 in a foreign bank account, there's nothing for them to do with it, actually. Other than report that I have one - there is nothing I need to actually report.

I have found three that say they treat returns for citizens living abroad in exactly the same way as they treat residents. Nothing whatsoever about the bank reporting, which they ask about up at the start of the process, being an extra fee until just before you are going to submit the return - then they hit you up for the upgrade.

I just spent four hours and am finished with both my IRS and my California taxes using paper forms. So I'll be mailing them in. Interestingly, there is nothing on the 1040A form that asks if you have a foreign bank account... but apparently there is "Schedule B" that needs to go in with it.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 01:38:29 AM by Nan D. »

Offline guya

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2018, 09:49:47 AM »
Both the IRS and the FTB provide all forms for free on their websites. It is not compulsory to use software.  HMRC equally accept paper returns if filed by the (earlier) October paper return deadline. FinCEN provide FBARs for free on their website as well.

Offline Nan D.

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2018, 10:22:52 AM »
Yes,  that is where I downloaded the forms that I filled out from, thanks.  :)   Yes, I can mail the paper and probably will be doing so.

I believe I should be able to file a 1040A (I assume) as I have only typical income (a W-2 and two 1099R), no deductions other than the standard ones (not itemizing), some student loan interest, and the need to include the Schedule B form (to note the overseas checking account). There is nothing complicated there - I don't think? Or am I mistaken in thinking I can do a 1040A?

My gripe is with the "free" software advertising that I can use their services to do a 1040A (and that they support schedule B), and then, after all the data entry, popping up with "oh, you'll have to pay after all"  at the very, very end of the process, because I have a foreign checking account that has no reporting requirements other than a Schedule B form. (it's a checking account with a low balance.) TurboTax keeps insisting I need to file a 1040, not a 1040A, because of that  foreign bank account. It doesn't give me any options, just selects that as "best" for me and giving me the "cough up the fee now" message. There apparently is also no way to reach a live body there unless I have already paid the fee.  ???

[My bad on H&R Block. I misread their free offer - it is only for people ~below~ a certain age, and I do not qualify.]
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 10:24:25 AM by Nan D. »

Offline Weller

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2018, 12:31:25 PM »
Sometimes you can fill in fake information in these online forms to avoid having to pay. You continue to the point it creates a complete set of forms that you can save. Now download the empty forms from the IRS site and print them out. Fill these forms in by hand using the online forms as a guide. Remember to enter the correct information in place of the fakes.

For example, you can fill in a false name and SSID in the online forms to avoid the loss of privacy and security. Just be careful that the actual forms you mail in are the truth! 

Offline Nan D.

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2018, 12:46:00 PM »
Yeah, my Daughter does that when she has enough income to not file a 1040EZ. ;)

Tomorrow I'll print out a fresh set of forms, double-check my math, fill them in, and off they go.

Offline vadio

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2018, 01:24:13 PM »
I've been using the IRS-linked 'free fillable forms' for the past few years. You need to know what to put where, but it's neater and essentially all forms are available/supported.

It will be open for business in another 2 days. https://www.irs.gov/e-file-providers/before-starting-free-file-fillable-forms. I've also e-filed this way for free.

The Schedule B is required if you have a foreign bank account, regardless of whether you need to file the Fin-Cen 116 (old FBAR).
Married December 1992 (my 'old flame' whom I first met in the mid-70s)
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Offline TravelingFrog

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2018, 01:42:09 PM »
My first year here, I went through the same thing as you - I'd filled out everything online and only at the end did it tell me it couldn't finished.

Now, I download the forms directly from the IRS website, fill them out on the computer, print them out and send them off in the normal post. Besides postage, it's all free.

I always save the finished form and print out a copy for myself so I can use it as a cheat sheet for next year's taxes (all that changes year to year for me is my income and address if we've moved). Saving a copy on your taxes for your own records will make your life so much easier when you can use it as a guide next year.

I also have a sheet with step-by-step notes for filling out my taxes (which forms, how the IRS wants GBP converted to dollars, where to send the forms, etc).

That first year is such a pain. Just know it gets easier.

My first year here, DH and I took a full weekend figuring out which forms I needed, then going through them and trying to decode each part. I was totally overwhelmed and put it off until late May.

This year it only took me about an hour to fill them out (with DH double checking against last year's return) and I sent them off two weeks ago. 8)
July 2012 - Fiancée Visa | Nov 2012 - Married
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Offline Nan D.

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2018, 03:36:47 PM »
I've been using the IRS-linked 'free fillable forms' for the past few years. You need to know what to put where, but it's neater and essentially all forms are available/supported.

It will be open for business in another 2 days. https://www.irs.gov/e-file-providers/before-starting-free-file-fillable-forms. I've also e-filed this way for free.

The Schedule B is required if you have a foreign bank account, regardless of whether you need to file the Fin-Cen 116 (old FBAR).

So how does that work? You fill out the forms online, and you can e-file them as well? I looked (quickly) at the site and it seems to be for tax pros? (At least I could fill the forms in and then print them off, as suggested.)

Offline guya

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2018, 04:52:19 PM »
My first year here, I went through the same thing as you - I'd filled out everything online and only at the end did it tell me it couldn't finished.

Now, I download the forms directly from the IRS website, fill them out on the computer, print them out and send them off in the normal post. Besides postage, it's all free.

I always save the finished form and print out a copy for myself so I can use it as a cheat sheet for next year's taxes (all that changes year to year for me is my income and address if we've moved). Saving a copy on your taxes for your own records will make your life so much easier when you can use it as a guide next year.

I also have a sheet with step-by-step notes for filling out my taxes (which forms, how the IRS wants GBP converted to dollars, where to send the forms, etc).

That first year is such a pain. Just know it gets easier.

My first year here, DH and I took a full weekend figuring out which forms I needed, then going through them and trying to decode each part. I was totally overwhelmed and put it off until late May.

This year it only took me about an hour to fill them out (with DH double checking against last year's return) and I sent them off two weeks ago. 8)
Just curious how did you manage to do this 2 week ago when the IRS had not yet even published their unofficial exchange rates?

Offline vadio

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Re: Oh, so annoying! Prep your taxes for free - until the last pages...
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2018, 02:18:16 PM »
So how does that work? You fill out the forms online, and you can e-file them as well? I looked (quickly) at the site and it seems to be for tax pros? (At least I could fill the forms in and then print them off, as suggested.)

It's not just for Tax Pros, though it looks that way....unless of course its changed from prior years. I don't have all my 1099 forms yet, so will be a couple more weeks before I delve into it.
Married December 1992 (my 'old flame' whom I first met in the mid-70s)
1st move to UK - 1993 (Letter of Consent granted at British Embassy in Washington DC)
ILR - 1994 (1 year later - no fee way back then!)
Back to US in 2000
Returned to UK July 2011 (Spousal Visa/KOL endorsement)
ILR - September 2011
Application for naturalization submitted July 2014
Approval received 15-10-14; ceremony scheduled for 10 November!
Passport arrived 25 November 2014. Finally done!