A stalwart in the tax software arena, TaxCalc has a heritage that stretches back as far as consumer PC’s, with its origins back to the 1980’s. Originally from the Which? brand, TaxCalc got sold to Intuit in the early 2000’s. Then in 2005, Acorah software acquired the program TaxChecker, bought back the TaxCalc name from Intuit, married the two together, and the modern version of TaxCalc was born.
Today, it boasts quite a bit of popularity with more than 60,000 individual, business and accountancy practice customers that are submitting nearly 1 million returns annually.
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TaxCalc offers a variety products both for individual and corporate UK tax filing needs. Most consumers will use TaxCalc 2019 Individual to complete their return.
There is a single tier of TaxCalc’s Self Assessment tax software that has a cost of £31 inc. VAT. This allows the user to complete up to six SA100 Individual tax returns, making this ideal for a family that needs to file multiple tax returns in a single year. It is a comprehensive package that includes all the needed forms, including all non-resident and supplementary pages for the 2018-2019 tax year, except for the extras noted below. Another plus is in the category of ‘Just in case,’ and in the less common scenario that it is needed, there is prior year TaxCalc software available back to the year 2013.
While there is a single tier, there are a few optional add-ons that are available. The first is a Single SA900 Trust tax return that adds a SA900 Trust and Estate for the tax year suitable for a single return, at a cost of £40 inc. VAT. The next add-on is more affordable, the Dividend Database, that is for those tax filers with stocks, and it provides a “Database of dividends of FTSE350 and AIM listed companies for the 2018-19 tax year,” that is released in June each year. The final add-on is the What If? Planner, which is only used for individual returns, and can calculate upcoming tax liability for the next year by creating tax planning scenarios. The What If? Planner is also released in June of each year to incorporate the latest changes for the next tax year.
A major shortcoming is that there is no free tier, nor free trial.
TaxCalc shows is 1980’s origins, as it is available for all the desktop platforms, including Windows 7 and higher, Macintosh (MacOS 10.11 and higher), and even Linux (64 bit kernel 3.10 (or higher), Debian (e.g. Ubuntu) or Redhat distributions). However, there is no mobile app support so don’t plan on doing your taxes on your smartphone with this software.Also, the software is downloaded and installed to the computer, and not cloud based. This has the potential advantage of a higher level of security, assuming your desktop is indeed secure.
Just about every tax software uses an interview process, akin to going to an accountant, the data gets entered via the questions, and the software then enters it into the appropriate forms. The frustrating part is that unlike an accountant, many competitor tax software programs can take a while as the user has to proceed through many screens that do not apply, just to get to the few that actually do. Streamlining the process, data can be imported into TaxCalc from prior years. Then, TaxCalc incorporates their SimpleStep feature that has the user fast forward to the parts of a return that need completion. Through this innovative approach, many users can complete a return in under 30 minutes.
Another problem in doing your own taxes relates to erroneous data entry, and nobody wishes to get contacted by the tax authorities to explain a simple case of misentry. Thankfully, TaxCalc works extra hard to avoid this with their Check and Finish feature. This will go through the tax return, inform you if a needed entry is either missing, or if the result does not tally up. This gives the user the opportunity to fix these errors, and make it right before uploading the return to the HRMC.
While TaxCalc uses a simple interface, it can still handle a variety of more complicated tax situations. These cover the gamut, and include capital gains tax, income from trusts, pension and benefit income, foreign income tax relief, and multiple sources of income. It even covers some less common tax situations such as ministers of religion, non-UK tax residence, and being a Lloyd’s member. Along the way, TaxCalc keeps a running total of the potential refund, or tax payment to show it on-the-fly as entries are made, and what the impact on the tax burden is.
Importantly, there is help available to users. It takes the form of either email, or telephone support, and it is unlimited.
TaxCalc is a solid choice for completing a UK based tax return. We appreciate the streamlined interview process that focuses the questions on the relevant tax situation, and not peppering the user with endless inquiries into tax situations that do not apply to them.
We find the cost affordable, and the single tier makes this an easy purchase, although we would like to see a free tier for simpler filings, or at least to be able to take TaxCalc out for a test drive via a time limited free trial, but neither is available.
However, as long as you plan to use a desktop or laptop computer to do your taxes, and are okay with forgoing doing this on a mobile device, TaxCalc will get the job done, and more speedily than the competition.
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