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Pointless tax prep

Skip this program and file electronically.

Tax Assistant for Excel is a set of Excel worksheets that assist users in completing their income taxes using forms 1040 or 1040A. We're not sure why a user would want to use Excel for taxes when there are so many programs and Web sites that are better-suited to the job, and functional problems in Tax Assistant for Excel make it even less attractive.

The workbook presents users with Excel versions of IRS forms and workbooks with an introductory page that's supposed to provide instructions. Unfortunately, we kept receiving error messages about macros (although we had enabled macros in Excel), and clicking the arrows to expand the instructions resulted in a message about protected sheets. Although we suppose it would be possible to complete our taxes using the workbook anyway--it does come with PDFs of the official IRS instructions--in the end, we just didn't see the point. There are plenty of programs and Web sites that will walk users through the tax preparation process, make sure that users maximize their refunds (or minimize their liabilities), and then file the tax return electronically. Excel is a comparatively low-tech way to prepare one's taxes, and though this program may have been a good idea in the days before electronic filing was available, it's all but obsolete now.

Tax Assistant has a 10-day trial period. It installs and uninstalls without issues. We do not recommend this program; there are many more-efficient ways to do your taxes.

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