Author Topic: Doing taxes  (Read 4720 times)

MgoSam

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Doing taxes
« on: February 02, 2014, 01:29:45 AM »
Hey,

My taxes are incredibly simple, it will be my income from work and income from Vanguard investments and Schwab. What should I use for filing them? I live in MN and would prefer to not pay anything, but haven't done my taxes on my own before. Last year I used Turbotax. In the past though I was spoiled and had my uncle, a CPA, do them for me as a favor.

Thanks for your time!

Ohio Teacher

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2014, 06:39:30 AM »
I have used taxact.com for several years.  It is free to file your federal taxes, although they ask you several times to upgrade.  It is very thorough, so it may ask you a lot of questions that don't apply to you, and it then decides the appropriate forms to file. 

If you don't like that, you could always go here: http://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp?ck and pick one on the list.  Before I started using TaxAct in about 2006, I used H&R block's free file for a couple years and found it to be less user friendly.  TaxAct is just really helpful throughout the program.

Then, if you don't want to pay anything, you decline TaxAct's offer to file your MN taxes for a fee and just file a paper MN 1040.  I can use Ohio's free file at tax.ohio.gov but it doesn't look like Minnesota has an equivalent. 

aj_yooper

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2014, 07:02:30 AM »
I also like TaxAct.  Some here recommend doing the paper forms so you get a direct feel of the tax deductions and brackets.  That could also be helpful to you too.

MgoSam

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 02:25:58 PM »
Any advice for doing it by hand? I am toying with doing it this way as it will help me learn more about the process. I figure that since I don't own property or have any dependents that I mind as well do it this way.

curler

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2014, 02:42:59 PM »
Any advice for doing it by hand? I am toying with doing it this way as it will help me learn more about the process. I figure that since I don't own property or have any dependents that I mind as well do it this way.

It may sound obvious, but I'd recommend the instructions.  If you are good with rules, they IRS publications are actually not terrible.  Figure out which form you will need to file with (1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040) and get a copy of the instructions for that form http://apps.irs.gov/app/picklist/list/priorFormPublication.html?resultsPerPage=200&sortColumn=sortOrder&indexOfFirstRow=0&criteria=formNumber&value=1040&isDescending=false.  Just start at the beginning and do everything it tells you to do.  (You can also then do them on turbo tax or the like and see how the results match up).

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2014, 03:23:01 PM »
Why make the process take any longer than it needs to?

I used TaxAct and it took me all of 30 minutes. Plus, e-file means your refund gets issued within 2 weeks typically. A paper check will take 6-8 weeks. I do my budget with pen and paper but I've never, ever wanted to punish myself by doing taxes manually after trying it once.

aj_yooper

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2014, 03:28:37 PM »
Why make the process take any longer than it needs to?

I used TaxAct and it took me all of 30 minutes. Plus, e-file means your refund gets issued within 2 weeks typically. A paper check will take 6-8 weeks. I do my budget with pen and paper but I've never, ever wanted to punish myself by doing taxes manually after trying it once.

The paper method helps one understand the IRS process better and it sounded like the OP wanted to get into it more.  OP can still do electronic filing.

catccc

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2014, 05:50:18 PM »
+1 for paper filing a simple return, if you want to understand your taxes better. I personally use taxact.com, but I'm a CPA and understand my taxes well.  I file my state taxes with paper because most software charge for this.  (They do the federal for free, then charge for the state.)

jawisco

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2014, 05:58:57 PM »
I agree that doing it by hand is really instructive IF you are interested in tax efficiency and are not doing it to save money.  Time spent studying taxes usually pays off well as you can plan toward the future.

I would start with regular 1040 and work your way through it.  You might be able to use a shortened version of that form, but the 1040 also gives you an idea what is taken into account.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Doing taxes
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2014, 06:53:38 PM »
I agree that doing it by hand is really instructive IF you are interested in tax efficiency and are not doing it to save money.  Time spent studying taxes usually pays off well as you can plan toward the future.

I would start with regular 1040 and work your way through it.  You might be able to use a shortened version of that form, but the 1040 also gives you an idea what is taken into account.

I agree with this.  When I started doing my own taxes years ago, by hand was all there was.  I really, really understand how everything fits together because of doing it manually with my trusty 1040 and the associated paper instruction booklet (hat tip to the local library!) 

Once you get it all filled out (in pencil), fire up TaxAct and work through the program.  If everything comes out the same, congrats!  If not, print out the taxact forms and find your discrepancies.  After you've done this for a couple of years, you can just do them online and you'll be a tax-badass!