Do you hate to file your taxes? Do you put it off filing your taxes to the last minute? Is there a less expensive way to file your taxes?
Every accountant in the country is super busy this week—many of us are rushing to complete tax returns before the deadline of April 17th. Unless you “know a guy” getting taxes done can be a daunting and laborious process.
Let me first say that how you file your taxes depends really on how complicated they are. If you have multiple businesses, own property, investments, have employees, a farm, and whatever else that can add an extra form or two to the mix then it pays to have it done professionally. If you have simple taxes, which means you are an employee and basically have one (or two or three) W-2 forms for your income, then it is way more cost effective to use a do-it-yourself option like Taxact, Turbotax, or HR Block. I’ve used Taxact, and it has been fairly straightforward. You answer questions and it fills out the forms for you. At the end you only pay them about twenty bucks (or less) which means it is probably one of the least expensive ways. When I say twenty bucks, this includes federal AND state fees as well as free phone help, if needed, from a tax expert.
If you go to an accountant, you can be sure they are done right, but at $150 per hour, it can be around five or six hundred dollars to get it done, which could be way more than you care to spend.
I’ve never done the math on what you save if you have kids or own your own house, but when I look at one of these octomom people with lots of children, I wonder if they pay any taxes at all. They were just interviewing the octomom on TV and it was a natural question in my mind as I am writing this.
One thing you can do if you are not wanting to have an accountant do your taxes but you question your own ability when you try to do it yourself is to do it yourself but then go to an accountant and have him or her go over the software with you to check for errors or if there could be more deductions. Yes you may be shelling out a hundred bucks for that, but it is cheaper than going the full route of having the accountant spend hours on it.
These days, software has taken a previously notoriously confusing act and turned it into a plug-n-chug event which is one of the top reasons we can be thankful we live in this computer age and that technology is in the state that it is. Can you imagine trying to fill out the forms by hand and going through all the pages of IRS instructions and then mailing the forms? Good lord that sounds like a wasted day of frustration. I will gladly pay the software company twenty or whatever bucks in exchange for simplifying my life and saving me large amounts of time.
If you are one of those that “knows a guy” which usually is the best way to go, you might want to go over it yourself or get a second opinion just to make sure nobody is missing anything that could save you money. It costs nothing to enter in your info into a program like Taxact and find out their refund calculation, you only pay when you file the forms. So, you might put your info into the program just to double check the numbers and see if it comes up with something different.
So whether you an employee with simple returns or a self-employed chap with more complicated forms, consider your options to get the least expensive and highest quality tax preparation to get the job done. I have learned, for my own situation, that there are loopholes to the system that can help you save thousands, but you just have to know where to look or who to ask. After talking to an accountant about my situation, the accountant suggested I do things differently and set things up in a way I would have otherwise never known.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and look into other ways of filling out the forms, it could be worth your time to investigate.
Other than death, doing taxes is just one of those things we can’t avoid. Like dying, there are at least ways in which to make it less painful to file your taxes YOURSELF.