Tuesday, January 10, 2012

QuickBooks 1099 eFile: Don't Bother

I've been blogging about my experiences with QuickBooks 2012 and the myriad bugs and problems I've had.  Today I had a fruitful call with Betsy from Intuit's Outbound Team, which interfaces with the Office of the President.  Betsey was able to solve one major problem and get me to a place where I could actually sign up for and technically print and eFile my 1099s.  My advice to the average user is, unless you have the 250 or more so that the IRS requires you to eFile, don't bother.  Why?  Because the service simply isn't that well thought-out or practical.

Weeks ago, I tried to find an example of what a 1099 printed via this service would look like.  I couldn't find one, but I was told by someone in the Office of the President that it would look like the preview looks when you print your 1099s, i.e., two to a page.  This worked for me, since I have a good supply of perforated, two-to-a-page blank paper on hand (I use it with Stamps.com Customs forms).  However, the information I was given was incorrect.  It prints one to a page, as you can see below.

Additionally, the PDF QuickBooks produces for you to print the 1099s includes instructions that would appear on the back of Copy B (For Recipient), but none on the back of Copy 2 (To Be Filed...).  Thus, you will print three pages for each recipient, which you will then have to fold and insert in an envelope which will then have to be addressed.  Or you could use a 9 x 12 envelope and not fold them, but you will still have to use address labels and you will pay extra postage to mail them.  You cannot use the windowed 1099 envelopes you have probably been using for years.  You could just fold them once and use a smaller 6 x 9 envelope and still pay regular postage, but you're still folding, stuffing, and labeling, rather than just dropping them into a 1099 envelope.

I did consider printing half of them, then flipping the paper around and printing the other half, so as not to waste half a sheet of paper on each.  I considered trying to print them thus and double-sided, so as to eliminate a sheet of paper.  But this doesn't quite work since the layout is three pages per recipient and no blank in between, so if you tried double-sided printing your Copy B for recipient #2 would end up on the back of the Copy 2 for recipient #1 (I bet this would be an easy fix for Intuit, but did they really need me to tell them about it?).  And I realized, in the end, what a horrible waste of time this would all be.  To me, this is another Intuit failure.  And they charge you $25 for the privilege of using it.  (Betsy was kind enough to inform me she was refunding me the $25 fee, which seems fair since I am not going to use the service after all.)

If I had 250 recipients, I would probably use the service to eFile, since the IRS requires it, but I would not use the service to print my own 1099s.  I'd still buy the forms and print them on the forms.  Why?  Because (1) the forms use less paper in the long run and (2) they fit into the 1099 envelopes and mail quite nicely.  When I did a test print using the PDF produced by QuickBooks, I found the 1099 does fit fine into a 1099 envelope (not purchased from Intuit), but sits low, so that the city, state and Zip Code are not completely visible.  Not a good way to ensure that your 1099s get to their recipients.

I have also considered—since I have the right Adobe software—that I could break up the seventy-five page Adobe output and simply email the 1099s to the recipients as attachments.  But, again, that seems like a lot of work to avoid buying the forms, envelopes and about $11 in postage.  If you value your time even modestly, it's simply not worth it to use this service unless IRS regs force you to.  And even then, you're probably better off buying the 1099 forms and envelopes through Costco and mailing them.

Now, if Intuit really wanted to knock their users' socks off, they could simply have created a system to email the 1099s to recipients.  After all, the program already emails invoices, sales receipts, statements, and the like.  Would it be that hard to email 1099 forms?  No.  But it would cut into the lucrative business of selling people 1099 forms and envelopes.  I'm sure a lot of agonizing went into the decision to offer the eFile service and the print-your-own 1099 forms.  And the pricing at $25 (before 1/15) or $39 (after 1/15) was probably designed to make up for that.

So unless you have to eFile your 1099s with the IRS, don't waste your money on Intuit QuickBooks 1099 eFile service.  It's simply going to be more work than it is worth.


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