Friday, December 28, 2001

I want the fat guy in the cheap suit back.

I used to do our taxes by hand, working from handwritten ledgers and boxes of receipts. Then eventually I started using a spreadsheet — PC-Calc, to be exact — to keep track of stuff. Finally, early in 1997 I broke down and got tax software, specifically Parsons Personal Tax Edge, for the 1996 tax year.

I liked it a lot, to my surprise, and one of its charms, as far as I was concerned, was that it included video of a “tax accountant” who went through the whole “interview,” collecting the information you typed in and inserting it into the forms. The tax accountant was a fat guy in a cheap suit who darn well LOOKED like a tax accountant.

I liked him. I found him reassuring. And his script was well-written, being clear, informal, and informative. I advance-ordered PTE for ’97.

And then Parsons sold out to Intuit, and I got TurboTax instead of PTE. I’ve been using TurboTax ever since, and it’s a pretty good program…

But I miss the fat guy in the cheap suit. The tax experts in the TurboTax video don’t have anything like his low-budget charm.

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