Author Topic: Good Resources for doing your own taxes  (Read 6652 times)

FastStache

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Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« on: January 03, 2014, 07:59:45 AM »
It's that time of year and I was wondering if anyone had a good website for doing your own taxes.

My taxes are fairly simple
W-2
School reimbursement
Mortgage - did a refinance too
Dividends
Interest Income
Dependents
Donations

I'm looking for anything that may help with some simple deductions as well.

Nancy

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 08:11:25 AM »
I've used HR Block online since 07, but last year it was glitchy as hell. Dividend and distribution information didn't calculate correctly unless you went to the previous page and then came back to the page with the dividend info.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 08:14:28 AM »
I've done my taxes through TurboTax online for several years now. I even had to itemize and had a few not so simple things to add in, and as long as you're doing the basic and file online, it's free. I don't have a state tax, so not sure if that part is also free...

Dee18

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 08:24:03 AM »
I started using TacAct two years ago (when I first had to file in two states) and really like it.  Before that, I just did it with the paper forms, for free, and never had a problem.

smalllife

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 08:39:52 AM »
I've done basic to medium taxes by hand (using the free form e-file) and verified using TurboTax since I qualify for the free file through them.  I've been right - or better since Turbo Tax doesn't look for the small things - every time.  This year I'll still do it by hand.  The IRS documentation is pretty easy to follow if you have the time and desire.

fodder69

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 09:10:19 AM »
+1 to TaxAct. Free for Federal and I think like 15 for state. I prefer using a computer to spare me writing on forms but I do use the irs website to look at deductions to take as well. I have a son with special needs so medical is a big one for me.

ljp555

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 10:34:06 AM »
I was happy with Tax Slayer for 2009-2011. Last year I had a much more complicated tax situation, and I used Turbo Tax (with a lot of cross-checking the IRS website) after Tax Slayer and the accountant I hired failed to get it right.

FastStache

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2014, 11:11:37 AM »
I have used turbotax in the past and will use them this year since I have my charitable contributions with them too.

Any sites that list some common pitfalls and missed savings oppotunities?

Joel

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2014, 11:26:42 AM »
I use FreeTaxUSA.com for my federal return, and my state website for my state return. Both free.

geekette

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 11:32:44 AM »
We've used TurboTax for years, and since 5 federal filings are included, we split the cost among family.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 04:11:15 PM by geekette »

clutchy

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2014, 03:00:02 PM »
turbo tax.  I'm a CPA and most people don't need what I offer. 

If I didn't have advanced software at work I'd use turbo tax also.

teen persuasion

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2014, 09:39:09 PM »
I've done my taxes through TurboTax online for several years now. I even had to itemize and had a few not so simple things to add in, and as long as you're doing the basic and file online, it's free. I don't have a state tax, so not sure if that part is also free...

I've been eligible to use TurboTax to file free for a few years.  I found out (the hard way) that for the state return to be free to file, I have to start on my state's tax website link to TurboTax, not the IRS link.  It may be different for other states, though.

the fixer

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2014, 10:01:14 PM »
I second the suggestion for doing the IRS taxes by hand with the fillable PDFs. Download or read through the paper version of the IRS 1040 booklet. All the basics are presented pretty well in the IRS instructions, which in turn will reference publications with more details on some topics. If you have records of tax forms from previous years (you should!), even if you didn't prepare them yourself, you can learn a lot about the process by reverse-engineering them. What income/deductions/credits you have had in the past will tell you where to pay the most attention on the instructions.

To make sure I do all the math right, I started using this to double-check everything: http://www.excel1040.com/ Theoretically you should be able to print out that spreadsheet and send it to the IRS, but I don't do that.

Eventually things can get complex and you'll need more advanced guidance, such as with small business deductions. At that point there are plenty of books that can help.

twbird18

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2014, 05:16:42 AM »
Turbo Tax - its free if your taxes are simple - with the exception of state taxes as already mentioned you may need to go through your state website for that & offers enough flexibility if your taxes are more complicated. I have visited a CPA in the past, but he told me my knowledge of how things worked was good enough that there was no point in paying him to do my taxes. I have a small business & rental property which Turbo Tax makes pretty simple to file for. Plus it pulls your previous years info so you don't have to continually enter your old information in like your address, depreciation basis, etc.

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 05:40:55 AM »
We have a more complicated situation than yours. We had a CPA when we first got married (inherited from DH's single days). After the second year of marriage, I fired him due to his lack of questions and verification of a few things. This will be the second year doing it via TurboTax.

When I was 16 or 17, I started doing my own taxes free form and with your situation, you could easily do it with the manual forms and just cross reference to TurboTax (you avoid paying the filing fee with TurboTax). TT walks you through everything that you would need in your situation.

TurboTax charges a fee to file in my state, but my state's taxes are really simple. So after I complete our federal filing, I hope on over to my state Dept of Revenue and enter in a few numbers. It matches exactly what TT says, yet it is free. Saves us $30 or so (whatever TT charges to file a state).

Another bonus that folks don't talk about it the more you understand how your taxes work...the better you can plan and manage it. Our state and federal taxes are combined MORE THAN our annual living expenses, so learning something new about taxes can save us a lot of money. With our CPA, I felt like he was ok tactically, but terrible strategically (for example, I asked him about a back door Roth IRA in 2010 and his response was "I never thought of that"). With a CPA, I felt like I was providing the paperwork and waiting for the magic black box to tell me the answer of how much we owed. Now, I much more in charge and have been able to shave more money off our taxes by better thinking about things and planning (and thanks to all of you fine folks too).

You could also try reading Casey Murdock's book series on  "Tax Insight". It has helped me with understanding AGI, deductions, credits, phase outs.

twbird18

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2014, 08:18:35 AM »

Another bonus that folks don't talk about it the more you understand how your taxes work...the better you can plan and manage it. Our state and federal taxes are combined MORE THAN our annual living expenses, so learning something new about taxes can save us a lot of money. With our CPA, I felt like he was ok tactically, but terrible strategically (for example, I asked him about a back door Roth IRA in 2010 and his response was "I never thought of that"). With a CPA, I felt like I was providing the paperwork and waiting for the magic black box to tell me the answer of how much we owed. Now, I much more in charge and have been able to shave more money off our taxes by better thinking about things and planning (and thanks to all of you fine folks too).


Yeah, I met with the CPA when we started our business and felt like he just didn't know the best things to do. He could handle our books & keep us out of trouble, but I didn't feel like he was going to make the best strategic recommendations like when I asked him about different forms of retirement accounts for the business, he was just like with your income investing more money would be a good idea, but was unwilling to make a recommendations about what would be best tax wise for us & told us it would cost $20/week for him to do payroll, etc. I think it must be difficult to find someone who is both good with Taxes/accounting and good with future planning because they aren't you and don't always understand what your goals are. I don't want to just minimize my taxes for 1 year, I wanted to do what was best for all future years.

Also, I agree that you are able to plan better when you understand the tax code yourself instead of listening to someone else. I find myself getting more money back every year due to better understanding potential deductions/credits. Of course I try to minimize the amount of overpayment throughout the year.

FastStache

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2014, 12:44:32 PM »
We have a more complicated situation than yours. We had a CPA when we first got married (inherited from DH's single days). After the second year of marriage, I fired him due to his lack of questions and verification of a few things. This will be the second year doing it via TurboTax.

When I was 16 or 17, I started doing my own taxes free form and with your situation, you could easily do it with the manual forms and just cross reference to TurboTax (you avoid paying the filing fee with TurboTax). TT walks you through everything that you would need in your situation.

TurboTax charges a fee to file in my state, but my state's taxes are really simple. So after I complete our federal filing, I hope on over to my state Dept of Revenue and enter in a few numbers. It matches exactly what TT says, yet it is free. Saves us $30 or so (whatever TT charges to file a state).

Another bonus that folks don't talk about it the more you understand how your taxes work...the better you can plan and manage it. Our state and federal taxes are combined MORE THAN our annual living expenses, so learning something new about taxes can save us a lot of money. With our CPA, I felt like he was ok tactically, but terrible strategically (for example, I asked him about a back door Roth IRA in 2010 and his response was "I never thought of that"). With a CPA, I felt like I was providing the paperwork and waiting for the magic black box to tell me the answer of how much we owed. Now, I much more in charge and have been able to shave more money off our taxes by better thinking about things and planning (and thanks to all of you fine folks too).

You could also try reading Casey Murdock's book series on  "Tax Insight". It has helped me with understanding AGI, deductions, credits, phase outs.

Thanks for the book suggestion. I saw this book is new on Amazon, and have been in a request for my local library to carry this book. Any other ways of obraining this book as a loan from somewhere?

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2014, 11:55:38 AM »
Sorry, I don't.

I own the 2012 Tax Insight book. Reference it quite a bit for insight on different topics, otherwise I would lend it to you.

The author has made a few guest appearances on the YNAB podcast (free on ITunes or whatever you use, I'm sure). He talks about taxes and different ways to think of it. Casey was recently on twice in December 2013. It might help get you jump started, if nothing else.

FastStache

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Re: Good Resources for doing your own taxes
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2014, 11:19:07 AM »
For anyone with a safari account, it is on there. It is a great resource at breaking down taxes!!! Highly recommended.