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Turbo Tax discount and weekend in review

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Turbo Tax Federal discount

It’s tax season again. Here is the Turbo Tax Federal discount available to me. In most cases I think it will also work for others ūüôā

Bank of America: 35% off link
Citicards: 35% off link
Scottrade: 30% off
Vanguard (regular customers): 25% off

Weekend review
Signed up the 360iDev iPhone conference in Denver (Sept 11-14 this year).

A few weeks ago I found this article Embed a navigation controller inside a tab bar controller, and it’s very helpful.

Does Apple just become an ordinary company/store? One sign: using “holiday promotion” tactics A LOT.

It seems to me most people are counter-clock wired: I mean, most drive ways, tracks are designed that way so that the traffic goes in counter-clock direction. But occasionally people break the rule: I did this couple times, and I remember once another driver got really mad (honked at me). And yesterday morning I saw people do this in Panera Bread parking lot.

Airplane mode on iPhone: it becomes handy at night (so that I don’t wake up and read the twitter); it saves battery too.

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More tips for 2009 income tax filing

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I received both the federal and state tax refund last week.

Besides using the Turbo Tax from Bank of America site (get 35% off). For State (show me state) filing, I used paper filing, because state filing is usually simply enough, and also the Turbo Tax already gave me the estimate refund amount (so that I can compare my own calculation with it).

One thing to keep in mind, is to use the “fill/calculate” versions of the tax forms, when filling the forms using Adobe Acrobat Reader. That way, when you print, you will have a bar code, which will expedite things according to MO Department of Revenue. One can certainly use Turbo Tax state version too, but I felt it’s just unnecessary. I did used the state version once or twice, and at one time I screwed up (put negative number in income), and the online software did not warn me. Later I had to make amended return. So my lesson there is never trust the computer blindly.

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Tax tips 2010: double check ESPP income

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ESPP stands for Employee Stock Purchase Plan. My former employer is a public company, and it offers a good ESPP plan: 15% discount of stock market price at the beginning or the end of plan period (pick the lower of the two prices, then apply 15% discount), the plan period is usually 6 months. I took advantage of that. I was nervous about the market crash in Jan 2010, so I locked in my gains in late 2009. But I found a catch until today when I finalize the federal income tax using Turbo Tax (got 35% off referral from Bank of America here).

Basically I found my W2 form already included the ESPP gain (as my ordinary income). And I already put those in the investment section before today. That’s double counting my income! I am glad I caught this when I double checked my W2 form ūüėÄ

Opened traditional IRA
To correct the mistake I made about selling ESPP stocks too earlier, also combined with my new employment situation, I opened an IRA account to reduce the taxable income for year 2009.

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See’s Candies, Balance Transfer and Turbo Tax

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A Chinese version of the story can be read here (thanks to Shanzi for translation). You can read story (in English) from Buffett’s 2007 annual shareholder letter.

See's Candies

Why do I emphasize this story? Too many times I fall into some growth stories (hint: next Microsoft or Google), value traps (hint: Heelys and maybe Crocs), etc. This story serves as a reminder to myself: business is about making money. Less capital, more earings (not paper earning but the free cash flow), means great business. I think this story also implies not to take unnecessary risks or leverage: the recent down fall of financial firms exactly confirmed that.

Balance transfer
Also, I found this balance transfer (0% for 12 months, no fees) to be attactive.

The Turbo Tax online versions
I have used it since year 2001 (tax filing for year 2000), and I liked the product. One feature I like is TurboTax kept all the filings for previous years. A minor thing: I am going to save some money without using the State filing from Turbo Tax, because the calculation of State tax is fairly straightforward in my case (once the federal is done).

Continue reading See’s Candies, Balance Transfer and Turbo Tax

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Turbo Tax Online E-filing

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I have used Turbo Tax  online version for years and here are some of the tips.

1) Started early. It’s obvious if you are expecting refund. The eariler you file, the earlier you will get the refund. But even if you are expecting paying more, you can start early and mail the check on April 15 (or whatever the deadline is). Starting earlier means¬†fewer surprises; and it allows rooms¬†for adjustment¬†(such as additional contribution to 401K, IRA to avoid¬†the higher tax bracket).

2) Use the Federal version if you are thrifty. I did use the State filing service couple times. But at one time I was screwed by a mistake and a year later, the state sent a letter saying I need to pay more. This is a mistake I could avoid if I file by paper. In my case the State tax form is fairly straightward. One reason we want to use the Turbo Tax Federal is to let the computer do the add/subtraction, analyze the potential deduction and help planning the future. All these are not as important for the State tax because the tax rate is lower, the tax code is simpler, etc. 

3) Use the E-filing. After filling the¬†forms in the computer, you¬†will have the options to file by mail or by¬†E-filing. E-filing is better because it saves work for us and the goverment, saves the tree, saves the time¬†to¬†get¬†refund…

Last but not least, here is a discount I found for Turbo Tax Online.   

turbo tax picture 

(Update 06Feb07) Here is an interesting article about “whether do tax by yourself or hire an accountant” (from My Money Blog).