Software organizes tax-time strategies

March 12, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

It's that dreadful time of year that accountants happily call tax season. Microsoft offers an excellent scheme that bundles H&R Block's Kiplinger Tax Cut software with the new version of Microsoft's Money product for keeping home accounts and plotting saving/investing strategies.

It would take a tax accountant to explain the skein of rebates in the offer, but you buy Money in either Standard ($35) or Deluxe ($65) editions and then you get a rebate of up to $35 if you buy Tax Cut ($10 or $20) at the same time. Figure it will set you back $80 roughly and be done with it. Your budget is far larger, and Money continues to be superb.

The software handles the whole family budget, tracking everybody's income and their bills down to the penny as you pay them. It then integrates with federal income tax forms to prepare your taxes and beam them to Washington for a refund/penalty or whatever Uncle IRS wants.

New features include a Quicken Wizard that lets customers of the also superb Quicken home finance product import their data into Money, a process that isn't completely effortless but that can be done by following some simple instructions.

The tax features in Money Deluxe will appeal to many because they include ways to analyze expenditures and cash flow to spot potential deduction strategies, and also flag which receipts must be kept for verification of deductions. It also plots best strategies about withholding taxes from paychecks.

Other additions are Internet links that let users use central real estate listings to estimate the value of their homes and a frequent-flier mileage tracker.

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