Learning from TaxACT 4 – I’d Rather be Consistent than Correct

This is my fifth posts in a series “Learning from TaxACT”. In my previous posts I discussed the problems with the usability of their software and I analyzed my email exchange with TaxACT:

Learning from TaxACT 1 – Step by Step Learning from TaxACT 2 – Find the Unasked Questions Learning from TaxACT 3 – The Dangerous Assumption Learning from TaxACT 4 – Leading Away From the Answer

After reading my previous posts you might understand why I got snippy here:

“The information you supplied is not specific enough to resolve my issue and it appears to me that you had enough information to know that before you sent the email if you had taken the time to check your answers.

Issue 1: Getting state tax witholding from royalities on 1099 to appear on the Oklahoma tax form

If you look at my account you can see that I aleady know all of the steps you supplied below. I ave filled out 4 “Federal Supplemental Income and Loss” forms in your system. My specific question is where do I enter the tax withheld from the 1099 Misc so that it will appear as withheld tax on the Oklahoma form. It is definitely royalty income so it should go under that section and not the miscilaneous income. The first item in my account has a royalty income of $20. I entered $10 in the taxes field on the screen “Royalty Income – Expenses – Insurance, Taxes, Utilities” yet this $10 does not appear on the Oklahoma form as witholding.  Please supply the exact steps to get to the screen and the field label for the location where I should enter this $10 that was withheld from my royalities so that that witholding appears on my Oklahoma tax form.

I did try the Misc income and that does have a specific state witholding field and I entered $7 and this does not appear on the Oklahoma form.  There is only 1 field and I need to fill this out for 4 royality companies. I have 4 1099s that I need to enter. So this option does not appear to work either.

Since you said below that I can do it specifically under roaylities section I would like to know how to do that specifically.

Issue 2: You still did not answer my question. The piece you failed to answer is specifically “prior to completing the billing process” I believe I can not view the document until i have paid. How can I report a problem with your service for a refund prior to printing if I can not see the problem until I have to initiate the printing to see if it is correct?”

My Mistakes

Ok, there is no excuse or benefit when you get this snippy. I again left the typos in so you can see what TaxACT had to deal with. In general though this email contains the relevant information. In issue 2 I neglected to mention that they assumed that all issues could be corrected after the printing. That point will have to be addressed later. Let’s see what they were able to do with this flawed email. I also said I entered $7 in a field where I probably entered $5. I also said that that $5 does not appear on the Oklahoma form when I meant to say that it did. Each inaccuracy can cause confusion which increases costs and frustration. It make it hoarded for the customer service person to quickly and accurately provide value. I do expect good customer service people to compensate for the lack of accuracy from customers. They are the professionals in this situation.

The Response

“It appears that you did not follow the instruction completely.  You would enter the total amount of OK withholding in this step.  You entered only $5 and that amount is showing on the OK return on line 42.

To enter state withholding: 1. Log into your TaxACT Online return or start your TaxACT Desktop program 2. Click on the ‘Federal Q&A’ tab 3. Click ‘Form 1099-MISC’ to expand the section and then Click ‘3-Other Income’ 4. Select ‘Form 1040’ and click ‘Continue’ 3 times

The state withholding will transfer to your state return, and this will not prevent you from electronically filing either the federal or state return.

***********************************************************************************************************

Following are instructions for printing the complete return in the TaxACT Online program:

COMPLETE RETURN (and instructions): 1. Click on the Print link at the top right side of the screen. 2. Click on ‘Print Return & Instructions’ 3. Click on ‘Print your Federal Return’ (or ‘Print your State Return)’ 4. Click on ‘Your Federal Return’ (or ‘Your State Return’) to view and/or print the return note: If you see the message “You will need to complete the filing step first” in Step 3 above, then you will need to return to the Filing tab and complete that process far enough to print the return (you do not need to go to the end of the filing steps and submit the return at this time) and then can return here if you need to print the return again. Alternatively you can Click on ‘Preview Federal 1040 (Non-Printable version)’.

Thank you for using TaxACT. Please let us know if you have any further questions.”

Issue #1: Getting state tax withholding from royalties on 1099 to appear on the Oklahoma tax form

They start off with “It appears that you did not follow the instruction completely”. I stated that I wouldn’t follow their instructions because “It is definitely royalty income so it should go under that section and not the miscellaneous income”. It appears to the customer that they are not reading the emails effectively. A better response would be to say “Even though you enter the state witholding under the royalties section which goes on form E, you also need to enter the state withholding under the 1099 Misc section under form 1040 under so it will transfer to the Oklahoma form correctly. Even better they could say “ We will request that this process be reviewed to see if it can be made easier for our customers in the future.” Then they can implement the changes suggested in my first post.

The importance of Consistency

When entering the 1099 information I received under royalties I was directed to add one document online for each form. In other areas where multiple sources exist they provide a button to add up the different sources. Both of these are different conventions to support the same basic need but implemented differently. They taught me these conventions while using their software. The customer service group now expects me to ignore those lessons by assuming that if I have multiple sources that it is obvious that I should add up all the number and put them in that field. If the field that I wan supposed to be entering that data into was under the correctly labeled Royalties section I might have been able to comfortable temporarily ignoring the conventions they taught me. Since the field was on the more generically named Misc form, I now was unsure of my understanding of a complex process and felt I needed direct confirmation. For a business who’s profitability is based on self service consistency is extremely important.  inconsistency increases the likelihood that people will desire costly personal assistance.

Issue #2: Making sure I will gain value before forfeiting the opportunity to get a refund

“Following are instructions for printing the complete return in the TaxACT Online program:” Really? I can not think of a reason why this representative would think I needed to have instructions on how to print a return unless they failed to thoroughly read my email. They had in a previous email told me that I already printer it so it is quit apparent that I have this information already.

They did say “Alternatively you can Click on ‘Preview Federal 1040 (Non-Printable version)” Which is interesting because the point is that I can not view the Oklahoma form. There is no way to view the Oklahoma form in a  non-Printable version. This appears to be another inconsistency without providing value. What are they teaching me about their company?

 

If you can see any other lessons we can learn from this exchange, please put them in the comments of this Blog.