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Monday, February 11, 2008

How to get TurboTax to handle your Oregon "kicker"

Last week, we complained that it was hard to get the 2007 edition of TurboTax to process our Oregon income tax rebate, known as the "kicker," which we received in December. In direct response to that post, TurboTax VP Bob Meighan wrote up a set of instructions showing how you're supposed to do it. We posted it on our website on Friday night, and now we're pleased to report that it's part of the official TurboTax website.

We'll let you click on either of those links, and be the judge of how "easy" the procedure is, but at least it's now explained somewhere. To us, the remaining flaw is this:

At this point, TurboTax still does not know about your Kicker Refund. Therefore, in response to "Is this information correct?," answer No.
Why doesn't TurboTax "know" about the "kicker"? Doesn't TurboTax read the papers? The existence and amount of the rebates have been well known since the fall.

Anyway, the instructions show you how to walk through entering the "kicker" if you are in the "Interview" mode of TurboTax. For us old hands who prefer the "Forms" mode of TurboTax, Meighan also sent along an e-mail message with instructions about how to enter the "kicker" there. As we wrote, when we tried to enter our state tax refund in Form 1099-G on TurboTax, it bumped us over to a "Federal Carryover Worksheet" that had no apparent place to put the "kicker." Meighan sends this screenshot to show us where it's supposed to go:

He writes:

if you decide to use forms mode, you would enter the state refund + Kicker Refund in one cell on the Federal Carryover Worksheet. The amount that defaults in this cell is the amount reported on the return as originally filed. Therefore, you would have to enter the total amount here. In the example that I sent earlier, you would enter $1020 in place of the $145 that would normally show in the cell below. Similarly to my Alternative in the example, you could also add another line to the worksheet that would include another separate entry for OR with the Kicker Refund amount of $875. Same result. You should not have to do anything with regards to deduction limitations and AMT [alternative minimum tax] complications.
And indeed, I didn't. Using Meighan's instructions, TurboTax did in fact do all the dirty work, including the messy complications arising out of the AMT. Good work... if you know how to get the program to do it. And now we do. And so do you.

Comments (3)

Thanks for doing this. TurboTax should pay you a consulting fee.

To clarify jack's comment about TurboTax not knowing about your Kicker Refund, let me restate my comment. TurboTax does not know the AMOUNT of your Kicker Refund. We know all about the specifics of the Kicker Refund, it's just the dollar amount that we don't know. Additionally, regardless of what it's called, if you just enter your state refund amount from the 1099-G received from OR you get the right result without worrying about what any one of the 50 states may call their refund.

Rob K... I'm not sure on what basis jack earned a consulting fee.

Bob Meighan
VP, TurboTax

We know all about the specifics of the Kicker Refund, it's just the dollar amount that we don't know.

And why is that? The state has had a calculator for the exact amount posted on the internet for several months now. Anyone could have calculated their kicker to the penny way back in November.

As for your repeatedly mouthing off about me, Bob, is that what you get paid to do? I don't think that your shareholders would be too pleased.

The facts are:

1. The Oregon Department of Revenue has refunded 400 kicker refunds that electronic tax return programs, including TurboTax, said should have been donated to the state school fund. That necessarily implies, rightly or wrongly, that there were bugs in the programs. Either that, or the ODOR is allowing people to revoke their elections, which is against the law.

2. TurboTax Oregon return screens are not WYSIWYG, and they should be.

3. Until you were goaded into creating them, specifically by this blog, TurboTax 2007 had no instructions for Oregon taxpayers on how to handle the kicker.

4. TurboTax could have (and probably should have) been programmed to calculate each taxpayer's Oregon kicker and anticipate it in the suggested entries for state income tax refunds received.

without worrying about what any one of the 50 states may call their refund.

That's the whole point, Bob. TurboTax does need to start worrying about the terminology that its customers use. That's a pain in the neck across 50 states, but that's why Intuit makes the big bucks.

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