Archive for January, 2006

High-Tech Workers Telecommute to Avoid Urban Sprawl

Here’s another article repeating what we already know: More and more people are getting more work done by doing it from home.

This article cites several benefits to the employee such as flexible hours, self-controlled environment, and the much shorter commute.

The author of the article is in Florida and writes the article with the purpose of encouraging local business and government to adopt telecommuter friendly policies so that more high tech workers and businesses will come to Florida.

A lot of telecommuters are high tech workers who are generally paid more and without the commute have a smaller impact on the local resources. It really makes sense for localities to encourage this type of behavior. The formula is really quite simple: More Tax Revenue + Less Impact to Roads and Environment = Great Deal!

Tax Software! It’s that time again

We are fast approaching tax season and I begain making plans to pick up my usual copy of TurboTax so I could get a jump on things.

I have been using some version of TurboTax since the early 1990’s and it never occurred to me to consider another product… until this year.

Why the change of heart? Part of it is the increasing arrogance of Intuit. When I upgraded to Quicken 2004, I found that they had added advertising in the software. Now I can’t balance my checkbook without looking at an advertisement for a Quicken MasterCard or bill paying service. Didn’t I already pay for the product? Why should I have to pay to look at advertising?

In addition, in recent years they have added the Premeir version to the TurboTax line and moved some of the features I used to get in Deluxe to the more expensive version. I am just an average Joe, why should I need to shell out an extra 30 bucks on tax return software because I cashed in a few stock options?

This year, Intuit began including a state product in some versions of their software without the need for a rebate – which is good – but they stopped offering a rebate for free electronic filing of federal returns.

It was upon noticing these little details that I also happened to notice that the competing product, TaxCut, was about $20 cheaper, included the state product for free and still offered a rebate for free electronic filing of federal returns. Hmmm.

Now I am a creature of habit and I don’t like change, but an extra 20 bucks could get me a case of beer. Should I make the leap? I have always liked the TurboTax interface, does TaxCut compare in terms of ease of use? Does H&R Block, the makers of TaxCut, have to charge $20 less because their product is not as good?

I have questions. Who has answers? Leave some comments if you have experience with either or both products. This may be the year I buy both products and do a head to head comparison. Who wants to see that?

References:
TurboTax Total Tax Solution Deluxe 2005 with State Win/Mac
TurboTax Total Tax Solution Premier 2005 with State Win/Mac
TaxCut 2005 Deluxe + State
TaxCut 2005 Premium + State

Happy New Year!

Happy 2006! Okay, so it’s been 2006 for a couple weeks now. I have been trying to finish out 2005. It just took a little longer than I expected.

I predict that this the year that Home Office Blues will take off. Why? For three reasons:

  1. I have pulled out of some projects that were taking up time and going nowhere.
  2. I can think of a lot of good important material that will fit in this space.
  3. There are a lot more people working at home and telecommuting.

Check out this article: http://www.wtopnews.com/index.php?nid=30&sid=668907.

Fairfax County, Virginia reached its goal of converting 20% of its eligible governmental workforce to telecommuters. This is signicant for several reasons. First, commuting in Northern Virginia sucks. (I know it sucks everywhere, but it really sucks in Northern Virginia). Second, this is a governmental organization restructuring work requirements to save taxpayer money and the environment (just look at the statistics on road usage and pollutants). Third it is a good example of how things can work in the private sector.

I think 2006 will be the year of the telecommuter and I am excited about it.