Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

January 1999

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Tax Software in Review.

It's that time of year again for americans to pay their dues to Uncle Sam. Since the demise of Tax Dollars there is no native OS/2 U.S. Income Tax preparation program, so we have to look at the alternatives.

One option, for everyone is to use the entirely web based Secure Tax - You can enter your tax information online and send your finalized return to the IRS electronically. There is also State Income Tax return processing available. I personally don't trust that kind of information to a web site, even a secure one, so I haven't tried it. If anyone has used SecureTax please let me know what you think - I do think this is the future, especially for those of us who refuse to be assimilated.

This month we have reviews on 3 DOS/Windows Tax preparation packages -

Kipliger's TaxCut 98 for Windows
AmTax 98 for DOS
Intuit's Turbo Tax Deluxe Complete for 1998

I had also hoped to review another DOS/windows package I have used in the past ExcelTax, but alas I didn't receive it in time for this issue. If possible I will try to have a review for February, Information on ExcelTax is available at

Kiplinger's Tax Cut 98

By: Mark Dodel -

For the past couple of years I have used Intuit's Turbo Tax to do my Federal Income Taxes. This year there was no separate windows 3.1 version of Turbo Tax and when I called to enquire if it would run under OS/2, I was met with the usual "We only support windows" routine. So this year I thought I'd check out some other options. On the mail lists some folks mentioned that they had happily used Kiplinger's Tax Cut previously, and their web site - actually mentions win-OS/2 in their FAQ. Though like most other companies they don't actually admit to or support anything other then Microsoft operating systems.

You can download Tax Cut from their web site via a secure purchase server for $19.95 for the Federal version. I found the basic Tax Cut version at my local Office max store for just $9.95 on sale. State versions are also available from the same site. I have no need for a state version since Pennsylvania has a flat tax with practically no deductions, and accepts Federal forms so I have not tried any of these.


The installation is fairly straightforward using the windows Install program setup.exe. I installed it in a full screen win-OS/2 session. Then I created a program object with the path/file x:\...\TAXCUT98\TCWIN.EXE to run it in a seamless win-OS/2 window. For something that is just used for one task, once a year, this sure takes up a lot of hard drive space. TaxCut uses about 16 Meg in the taxcut98 directory and another 5 meg spread among a "system" and two BMP directories.

How it runs:

When you first start a new return, TaxCut gives you the opportunity to import data from last years return if you used TaxCut or Turbo Tax. Since I used Turbo Tax last year, it imported a great deal of information. It also asks if you would like to import data from a financial program like Quicken, managing Your Money, Microsoft Money or a TXF file.

TaxCut gives you several options as to how to complete your return. There is a Full Interview process, which fills out the required forms as you answer questions. There is a "Navigator" button that allows you to jump to specific interview topics if you wish to skip some. There is an 'All Forms' selection which allows you to choose to enter directly into a specific form. Switching back and forth between the Interview and forms is easily accomplished by selecting the button on the right hand side of the screen.

While entering data during the interview, the appropriate form is displayed in a bottom window and that scrolls as you enter new information down the form. There are points in the interview where you can elect to speed things up by skipping sections. This is called the Fast Lane Interview.

There is a fairly useful help system called Help Central. Click on the Help button and it brings up a new window where you can choose from several sources of assistance - Program help Which gives help on using the program; Kiplinger tax tips, IRS Instructions, which give you the official IRS instructions for a form; Explain This Form, Interview Help and a TAX FAQ.

Once you are done entering your data you move on to the next phase which is reviewing the return. This section reviews all the data you entered previously and shows you all the warnings and allows you to fix them from that window. They warn about things which are missing as well as things which may flag an IRS audit.

Finally once you are satisfied that you have done as well as you can you move on to the File phase. Every copy of TaxCut includes a free Electronic filing rebate coupon. You can also print out IRS approved forms or use the 1040PC printed return which saves on paper. The forms printed out quite nicely on my Epson 1520 Inkjet printer.

In addition to the above tax preparation for 1998, you can do planning for the coming year, compare your data with the U.S. averages, calculate estimated tax payments and withholding and compare different outcomes for your current taxes by changing .


Having used Turbo Tax last year, I was wondering how Tax Cut would compare. I have not as yet completed my tax return since it is still early January and I don't have all the information I need but I have to say so far I am reasonably impressed. It installed under win-OS/2 with out a problem, runs in a seamless window (though it seems to run slowly at times on my Pentium Pro 200 and has locked up on occasion). For a windows program this isn't half-bad. If you are looking for something to not just get the job done, but also help you with added tax tips and planning, then Taxcut is a good choice.

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