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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2011 / 2 Shevat, 5771

Online, handheld tax prep may be more taxing this (new) year

By Mark Kellner



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | What was one of the great technology marriages of the past 25 years - the merging of personal computing and personal tax return preparation - may show some signs of fraying this new year.

The December 23, 2010 announcement by the Internal Revenue Service that "taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A will need to wait until mid- to late February [2011] to file" brought little joy to the estimated 50 million taxpayers who do itemize. Moreover, those hoping to claim three types of tax deductions reinstated by the late-2010 tax bill, which the IRS labeled as a "state and local sales tax deduction, [a] higher education tuition and fees deduction and [an] educator expenses deduction," would also have to wait six weeks longer than usual to begin filing returns.

For some of us, this writer included, the extra six weeks will offer additional time to check and re-check everything, to make sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed. That's not a bad thing, per se, even if many of us were itching to pull the filing trigger sooner, in order to get the money we effectively "loaned" Uncle Sam back into our bank accounts faster.

More potentially frustrating, however, will be negotiating the maze of tax-related applications, boxed software and online services, as well as "refund calculators" available free for your handheld phone or via a computer link on your Internet-connected desktop or notebook computer.

It pains me a bit to warn folks away from the TurboTax iPhone refund calculator app, since it's free, seemingly well done, and not difficult to use. That said, unless your tax situation is about as "plain vanilla" as they come, don't expect to find anything resembling a decent guess at your refund.

Yes, you can enter your salary, federal and state withholding and mortgage interest deductions, as well as donations to charity. But did you pay a big legal or tax prep bill this year? Did you move? Do you have a home office deduction? Don't expect to find any of these options in the handheld app. And, therefore, don't expect to get a reliable estimate of, well, your refund.

Online, the TurboTax estimating situation isn't much better. You don't have the user-specific options I mentioned above there, either. H&R Block's online tax refund calculator is a bit better, but it's still a rather confusing process, and lacks as many deduction "inputs" as I'd like to see. (Ironically, TaxAct.com, which Block purchased last year, doesn't have a refund calculator at their site, but rather wants you to begin filling in an online return in order to estimate your refund.)

To me, what's painful about this is that none of these problems should exist, technologically. If TurboTax can come up with boxed and online programs for filers from simple to complex, its handheld refund estimating application and, most especially, its Website, should oblige with similar options. Ditto for Block and TaxAct.com.

Last year's winner (in my view) for online tax preparation, CompleteTax.com, is back this year with a new site and new pricing (including free return prep if you owe money, the firm figuring you shouldn't pay to find that out). But I didn't find a refund calculator there, which I'd like to see.

Subject to the cooperation of TurboTax, which is part of Intuit, and H&R Block, I'll compare these firms' full online preparation services with CompleteTax.com and will let you know which one delivered the highest, verifiable refund.

Meanwhile, the idea of either a national sales tax (FairTax) or a flat tax rate, is rather appealing. In the case of the latter, as proponent Steve Forbes once said, you could fill out your return "on the back of a post card." That would be a blessing for taxpayers, I believe, and allow all those software programmers to do something important, like develop the next killer Facebook application.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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