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Converting & Printing

So what’s left? The numbers that you enter into your tax forms come from a number of different sources, and MacInTax doesn’t help a great deal here, although it will let you import data from other applications (the manual doesn’t say which ones are supported) and from text files. If you import a text file, you merely have to select the bit of data to import and then click on the appropriate field in MacInTax. It is no different from copying and pasting, but is significantly faster. I personally use MacMoney from Survivor Software, which doesn’t appear to be one of the supported applications. That didn’t matter much in the end though, because I had to run a bunch of reports in MacMoney to get the appropriate data out. Then I just typed it into MacInTax manually, which wasn’t difficult. If you plan on doing much of anything fancy on your taxes, I highly recommend a program like MacMoney (I believe similar ones are Quicken and Managing Your Money), because such a program turns the yearly chore of tabulating all your receipts and pay stubs and that sort of thing into child’s play. The only trick is that you must keep your financial management program up to date, which isn’t hard, but can take some getting used to.

The other option for getting data into MacInTax is to use the included Convertor application, which can do a number of things. It can convert 1989 data to 1990 data, or at least all that it makes sense to convert (which isn’t much). If you’ve been trying to estimate taxes all year by entering data into the 1989 version, the Convertor will allow you to save the result of all that work by converting the 1989 file format to the 1990 format. If you suddenly realize that you’ve started working in the wrong form 1040 (1040A instead of 1040, for instance), the Convertor will convert the file to a different form, preventing you from having to enter all your data again. Finally the Convertor can convert a Softview Tax Data (STD) file from another program (apparently other programs do support this format, but it would be nice if Softview mentioned which ones specifically) into a MacInTax file.

When you’re done with everything, MacInTax gives you the option of printing the entire tax return with forms and data, just the data (if you are printing on pre-printed forms, I assume, or individual forms. MacInTax’s printing abilities are underrated in my opinion because you don’t have to go out and find any strange forms that you may need for one reason or another. Since all the forms are IRS approved, you just ask your ImageWriter or LaserWriter (I suspect that the new printers and the DeskWriter work equally well) to spit out the form, complete with nicely printed data.

Of course, in this technologically advanced age, you don’t even have to print out your tax return. You can file electronically through a company called SPEED>S, but it will cost you $29.95. As far as I can tell, you have be expecting a large refund for this to be all that financially worthwhile. It also looks like it would as much of a hassle as the normal method of filing, because you have to fill out a couple of extra forms and mail them, unfolded (remember the "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate!" warnings?) in an 8.5" x 11" envelope to SPEED>S. The rest of your forms can be mailed in paper form, sent via fax, or mailed in disk format. Blech. If they’re going to do this right, they should have an 800 number that you can call with your modem as well. There are two advantages to electronic filing – faster refunds and more accurate returns (the latter because SPEED>S checks for accuracy before giving the return to the IRS). SPEED>S can speed up the refund even more, by giving you a Refund Anticipation Loan for the amount you expect to get back from IRS eventually. The loan costs another $39.95, so you’ll be spending an extra $70 to file electronically and get a quick refund. I’d definitely figure out the amount of money you can earn in interest if you opt for that route, because it very well may not be worth it.

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