It’s that time of the year….at least, in the U.S.
Let’s face it – no one likes filing their taxes, not even accountants; they just have a knack for it. But there are other ways of filing your taxes than availing your local tax accountant of his or her often costly services. Sure, you could handle it yourself, crunching numbers and filling in the tiny squares on the various tax documents. But the tax code is increasingly complex, and it’s easy to unwittingly pay too much in taxes or deny yourself of the largest tax refund possible.
A far better choice for most people these days is a combination of those two approaches: doing it yourself with the aid of tax software. That’s the 10! way. In fact, tax software may well be the easiest, most affordable, lowest stress, and most effective method available for filing your taxes.
You don’t need to be an accountant or even mathematically inclined to prepare your taxes when you use tax software. All you need are your relevant tax forms. Your choice of tax software then takes you step-by-step through the process with a series of Yes or No questions and fields to fill in by copying the corresponding fields from your tax forms.
You can upload all your tax forms from your employer and investments, like your W2 and 1099 forms, into your tax software for easy, fast, and convenient integration, not to mention record-keeping. Those eligible to file a 1040-EZ will find that most tax software makes this available as well. Whether you own a business, hold multiple jobs, or are self-employed, by answering a few simple questions at the start of a session, your tax software will automatically direct you to, and walk you through, all the relevant sections.
Once you answer all the questions and fill in all the fields it asks of you, the tax software then fills out all the necessary forms to submit to the IRS or the equivalent tax agency in your country. It will even check for accidental errors or omissions first. Then, once your taxes are all complete, the software can file them for you with the press of a button.
One of the primary ways different tax software companies compete is by trying to offer their customers the biggest tax refund possible. Whichever tax software you choose, odds are great that it will find you an even bigger refund than you might find on your own. That’s because these tax software packages are updated annually with all the latest deductions, and walk you through eligibility considerations for every single one.
The advantages of using tax software over preparing your taxes on your own should be apparent by now. But there are even advantages of using tax software over hiring an accountant to prepare your taxes for you. For one, tax software tends to cost much less than a tax professional. For the most
part, it is pretty easy to find a completely free efile program for your tax return. More than that, however, if you purchase your tax software online, many companies will even let you deduct the cost of the tax software from your refund.
That means it costs you nothing up front to use, and you don’t have to worry about paying later because your tax refund will just be that much smaller. What’s more, for many filers the refund won’t even be smaller because using the tax software is free. More and more tax software companies are offering their technology for free to filers who qualify, making their use of the software even more cost-effective.
Professional Tax Guidance & Support
Most online tools have self-help and education features–like tutorials, FAQs, and Knowledge bases–aim to empower you to understand nuances of tax law and tax preparation that affects you. If any information pertaining to your particular tax situation is lacking, you can then always reach a tax professional for guidance and support. Support professionals are often available for immediate, direct contact during business hours via phone or even live video chat.
Safe and Secure
Tax software is designed to be as secure as software gets, for obvious reasons. Your financial data and personal information is precious and vital. When you use tax software you can have a peace of mind over the security of your data that you can’t always get when this information is printed on papers lying around your home, car, and office.
Tracking & Protection Features
Most tax software includes various features to track the status of your tax filing and refund distribution as well as protect you from possible audit. The former of these features usually comes free with purchase of most tax software. The latter is usually offered as an add-on for an extra fee. Other common add-ons include rush delivery for last-minute tax preparers and direct deposit of refunds into your bank account. Just be aware that filing taxes late is an easy way to give identity thieves an opportunity to try and steal your refund. Protect yourself, most of all, by making sure to make any payments for taxes you owe by April 18th.
If you’re looking for more information on the tax software options out there, the team at Reviews.com spent six weeks researching and testing 21 top choices on the market. They consulted with tax professionals, scoured IRS data, and personally test-drove the finalists, and determined three options that take the headache out of filing and maximize deductions. They also compiled a guide that caters to anyone, from the self-employed to regular W-2 workers and those with multiple sources of income, and you can check out their resource here.
I use TaxAct for my filing – happy to see it ranked as “Best Bargain” by Reviews.com. Have a painless tax filing experience!