WSAW - Blogs - Mikel Lauber

Tech @ 10: Tech, and Taxes

With less than a week until tax day, many of you may be scrambling to get those taxes done.  And while it may be easiest to take yours to the nearest professional, there are more and more impressive websites out there to help you do it yourself, for cheaper!

I’ve always done my own taxes, and have always used web sites to get them done.  I played around with a few I had never used before for this story, and here’s what I found:

If you have a very simple, straight forward return – you’re not going to itemize, you didn’t move to a new State, you don’t have a lot of unique deductions – it’s really hard to go wrong.  In this case, you should look for the cheapest options available to you.

I’ve found that a great, affordable option that will help you make sure you don’t miss the common deductions is Taxact.  Its cheapest edition (you need to make less than $56,000 a year and not have many deductions) is free for your Federal filing, with a $14 dollar charge for State.  For just a few dollars more, about $17, you can use their ‘deluxe’ version that will help you with more deductions.  It’s straightforward and effectively fills out the forms for you – making tax prep much less confusing.

If you think you may have some unusual deductions, if you’re itemizing, have several jobs, several properties, or just want reassurance that you’re not missing anything – I recommend Turbotax.  In order to get some of the most needed features, you’ll probably end up spending at least $60 to file both Federal and State returns.

But here’s an IMPORTANT TIP if you’re going to use Turbotax   -  Start with the FREE edition.  If you run into a good reason to upgrade, the program will let you know, and you can do so on-the-fly.  However, if you start with a more expensive edition, the program WON’T let you downgrade to save money.

You can find a more online tax options at the IRS Website.

And no matter which program you use, you probably won’t be charged until after your taxes are prepared and you’re ready to file.  So here’s another tip I’ve learned over the years:  Prepare your taxes on at least 2 websites, and if one finds you more deductions, resulting in a larger refund or less tax owed, file with that one!

Happy Easter, and happy tax day!

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