Author Topic: Scared to do my own taxes?  (Read 25608 times)

Longwaytogo

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Scared to do my own taxes?
« on: January 09, 2015, 06:32:13 AM »
So from 1995 until 2005 my fathers accountant did my taxes cheap (like $50 I think). Then I found a new (better I thought) guy when I opened my own business and he did my taxes for 3-4 years. Since shutting down business in 2010 I have stayed with him for just my personal taxes. Since then his rates have increased like $50 a year it seems. Paid $445 last year.

So my taxes are pretty freaking simple. 2 w-2's, mortgage interest, child tax credit etc. Did not sell any investments or do any retirement stuff this year (in serious debt pay down mode right now). Of course I could go back to my Dad's guy or use H & R block at walmart or something. But I have heard/read that doing your own (the old fashioned by hand way; not Turbo tax) was a pretty good way to learn about tax laws and strategy.

Looking at the packet they just sent me from last year combined with my 1040 from last year it looks like all I would have to do is just plug in the new #'s ?

Do a lot of you do your own? Where would I even start, the IRS website? Do you still fill out and mail/fax a paper form or can you just fill it all out electronically now or what?

Thanks all, I also need enough confidence to convince my wife I can do it.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2015, 06:50:58 AM »
I'm not a fan of doing it by hand. I've been using TaxAct for a long time and like it a lot. My taxes are similar and I'm usually done in less than an hour. Costs about $20 including filing the state return.

themagicman

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2015, 06:53:53 AM »
I'm not a fan of doing it by hand. I've been using TaxAct for a long time and like it a lot. My taxes are similar and I'm usually done in less than an hour. Costs about $20 including filing the state return.

+1 for TaxAct! It is cheap and easy to use.

lr

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2015, 06:56:17 AM »
Unless you desperately want to learn, just go with a tax website and avoid any up selling unless you really need it.

You can do the entire return online for free and not pay unless you decide to file with them. Most competitors offer the same deal, and I think the IRS has their own program, although I haven't tried it.

It's super easy.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2015, 07:13:27 AM »
I use the IRS e-file website for my taxes (http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free), which has been pretty idiot-proof for me :)   If you have capital gains or losses (Schedule D) with various purchase dates, you can't e-file, but can still print out the forms and mail in.

Le0

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2015, 07:15:16 AM »
If you are Canadian - https://simpletax.ca/

Hands down the absolute best do your own tax site ever. Its free, simple and enjoyable to do. 2014 tax forums are available now. They even netfile it for you.

Zaga

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2015, 07:15:43 AM »
The IRS has a website with free fillable forms, which is good I think though I haven't used them.  I always use one of the free online programs, usually H&R Block, for federal taxes, then go the the PA website for the state filing, and finally we have a local company that does our local taxes online.  All of these websites are free, it just takes a little time to enter all of the numbers.

If you do go this route, I would recommend that you fill everything out and save it, then go back the next day and double check yourself.  You'll feel more confident in the result that way.

Longwaytogo

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2015, 07:33:01 AM »
Wow! Thanks for all the responses.

taxact looks cool in that it looks like I can tackle Federal and state at the same time.

@ LeO - I am in US

@ step-in-time - No capital gains/losses this year. Very simplistic this time

@Zaga - Local taxes? I don't think I have those other than property tax (or I guess I have them but maybe my state pays them for me?) I have never had a third filing to my knowledge.

Do I actually mail / scan  or submit any hard copies of my w-2's or forms from my mortgage companies and stuff or do I just plug in numbers and keep them all on file?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2015, 07:40:03 AM »
Wow! Thanks for all the responses.

taxact looks cool in that it looks like I can tackle Federal and state at the same time.

@ LeO - I am in US

@ step-in-time - No capital gains/losses this year. Very simplistic this time

@Zaga - Local taxes? I don't think I have those other than property tax (or I guess I have them but maybe my state pays them for me?) I have never had a third filing to my knowledge.

Do I actually mail / scan  or submit any hard copies of my w-2's or forms from my mortgage companies and stuff or do I just plug in numbers and keep them all on file?

Yeah, in Pennsylvania every municipality and school district has its own small income tax. It's very annoying to deal with, as you can imagine.

GoldenStache

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2015, 07:45:27 AM »
I like the HR Block online better than Tax Act.  Very easy and you can use the cheap one. (right now they have a bonus if you put your refund on a gift card.. Do your own DD though, haven't read about the fees and they probably charge for the instant refund)

HR block is usually about $18 basic+ $9 for the state..

I usually play with it for hours (has a real time calculation) to see how income and deductions can change my return.
Not sure if Taxact does it now but it shows your likely hood of being audited.  I had a year that it showed very likely because of a lot of things so I was sure to have all of my paperwork handy if it came to that (it didn't).


 

Spork

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2015, 08:03:54 AM »
I've used Turbotax for > 15 years (desktop version) and I'm sure Taxact is similar.  I wouldn't say my taxes are hard... but I do have to deal with selling equities.  In the turbotax, that implies buying their "Premiere" product -- but I've always done it with "Deluxe" and never had a problem.

You have the advantage here of having several years of a pro doing your taxes.  Just do it with TurboTax/TaxAct/etc.... and compare it to last years' taxes.  Sure, things change... but they mostly are the same year to year.

oldmannickels

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2015, 08:19:39 AM »
just do it on your own using the irs free file. No need to attached W-2 if you e-file Fed.

dandarc

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2015, 08:27:10 AM »
No reason to be afraid - it is pretty simple, particularly from what you've described.

Also, the lower-end tax preparers often aren't that good - a while back my wife got a letter from the IRS about a problem with her 2009 return (this was in 2011, I think - was actually the first piece of mail she got after moving in with me).  The guy at H&R block had signed her up for the 'plug-in hybrid' tax credit.  Had she done her own taxes, no way this would have happened - the car she bought in 2009 was not a plug-in hybrid (Prius doesn't plug in).

Longwaytogo

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2015, 08:33:14 AM »
Tubotax looks like they have an "absolute zero" but recommend their $35 for homeowners? I would think the free one would still handle a mortgage deduction; that seems pretty basic. H & R block says same type thing, Free recommended for simple first time tax filers and deluxe for homeowners

 I will have to explore the options between taxact, tubotax, and h&r block. Maybe this weekend I will have a bit more time online to compare; but hopefully you have armed me with enough courage to convince DW that we can go it alone and save around $400.

@ oldmanbutters - If I use the IRS one I assume I would still need to use another site for my state return right?

@ GoldenStache- Expecting way too big of a refund to consider any gift card oiprion

FLBiker

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2015, 08:38:36 AM »
I like the HR Block online better than Tax Act.  Very easy and you can use the cheap one. (right now they have a bonus if you put your refund on a gift card.. Do your own DD though, haven't read about the fees and they probably charge for the instant refund)

I like the HR Block one, too.  We get it at a discount through our union (I'm a teacher).  I used TurboTax before, and it was also fine.  Before that, I always did it by hand.  I couldn't e-file becase we have 1099s.  We have 2 W2s, a few 1099s, and a mortgage (but we don't deduct -- the interest is too low so we still do the standard).  It's very straightforward.

Jack

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2015, 08:40:04 AM »
I read this (and any other publications that apply), construct a spreadsheet that does all the math (input = boxes from W-2s and whatnot; output = lines on 1040), then transfer the numbers to Free File Fillable Forms.

Before I e-file, I also put the numbers in something like H&R Block online to double-check. I'd have to double-check to be sure, but I think I may have also actually filed with H&R Block for my state taxes... (either that, or I physically mailed them because GA stupidly doesn't have a first-party e-file service as far as I know).

I like using the "read the document; make a spreadsheet" method even though third-party e-filing services are available because the spreadsheet allows me to easily compare different options (e.g. "should I use a traditional or Roth IRA this year?").

GardenFun

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2015, 08:48:11 AM »
I originally did taxes by hand and found it valuable to read how certain deductions and credits work.  Looking back at your last two taxes, you can find which deductions/credits were used and do additional reading about them on the IRS website - mostly to find the phase out limits.

We have successfully used TurboTax for the last 5 years, but at $50 a year it gets a little pricey.  Some of the other options out there look interesting.  Time to investigate! 

madage

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2015, 10:06:39 AM »
I've used Turbotax for > 15 years (desktop version) and I'm sure Taxact is similar.  I wouldn't say my taxes are hard... but I do have to deal with selling equities.  In the turbotax, that implies buying their "Premiere" product -- but I've always done it with "Deluxe" and never had a problem.


You probably can't get by with Deluxe this year. Intuit removed Schedule D from the Deluxe product and it is now only available in Premier and higher.

Eric

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2015, 10:16:03 AM »
@ oldmanbutters - If I use the IRS one I assume I would still need to use another site for my state return right?

I also use the IRS free file.  Then I go to my state's (CA) website and input the information there for free as well.  It takes a little extra time than using a specific company, but it's all free.  I've only lived in three states, but all of them have had this capability, so check with yours.  At the very least, they should have the forms that you fill out online and then just print them out and mail them in.

TerriM

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2015, 10:19:51 AM »
I use HR Block's software. I used to do it on paper, but once I started using the software I never looked back.  It takes getting used to where everything is located in the program (that goes for Turbotax as well), but it'll start off asking you lots of questions and when you're done, you have a tax return.

Pretty easy!  Totally worth the money, and you'll be saving a bundle.

Spork

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2015, 10:20:30 AM »
I've used Turbotax for > 15 years (desktop version) and I'm sure Taxact is similar.  I wouldn't say my taxes are hard... but I do have to deal with selling equities.  In the turbotax, that implies buying their "Premiere" product -- but I've always done it with "Deluxe" and never had a problem.


You probably can't get by with Deluxe this year. Intuit removed Schedule D from the Deluxe product and it is now only available in Premier and higher.

That blows.  In previous years -- as long as you can figure your basis, you were golden.

James

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2015, 10:22:33 AM »
I have used TurboTax for about 16 years, works fine for me. IRS online program or any other online program is also fine.

I would stay away from buying a program you install on your computer, better to do it online. Then you don't have that stuff on your computer and someone else is responsible for backing it up while you work on it. Just print a copy for your records.

Definitely don't pay $400+ anymore... :D

GoldenStache

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2015, 10:27:53 AM »
@ GoldenStache- Expecting way too big of a refund to consider any gift card oiprion

@Longwaytogo
If you are expecting a very large tax refund you are doing something wrong.  Don't give the MAN an interest free loan.

Spork

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2015, 10:28:07 AM »
I have used TurboTax for about 16 years, works fine for me. IRS online program or any other online program is also fine.

I would stay away from buying a program you install on your computer, better to do it online. Then you don't have that stuff on your computer and someone else is responsible for backing it up while you work on it. Just print a copy for your records.

Definitely don't pay $400+ anymore... :D

I hold exactly the opposite opinion.
* it is *always* your responsibility to back it up... even if it's somewhere else.  If you think they won't lose it, you might just be surprised.
* turbotax has had a few years where they got their entire database hacked.  (It hasn't happened recently... but it still sticks in my craw.)  One year was super stupid and you could read anyone else's files by just tweaking the arguments in the URL.

source: I've been a network security guy for about 25 years.

Greg

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2015, 10:33:23 AM »
I use turbotax online, it's very easy.  I have 2 businesses, a mortgage and dependant.  Soon may have 2 more adult dependents.  I used to do my own taxes on paper but with 2 schedule c's and all the associated math I prefer to let turbotax do it.

geekette

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2015, 10:44:49 AM »
I've used Turbotax for > 15 years (desktop version) and I'm sure Taxact is similar.  I wouldn't say my taxes are hard... but I do have to deal with selling equities.  In the turbotax, that implies buying their "Premiere" product -- but I've always done it with "Deluxe" and never had a problem.


You probably can't get by with Deluxe this year. Intuit removed Schedule D from the Deluxe product and it is now only available in Premier and higher.

That blows.  In previous years -- as long as you can figure your basis, you were golden.
Seriously?  Seriously?  You need Premier to file if you sell stock???

I was going to say I've been reasonably happy with TTax for years, but seriously?  Totally pissed I've already bought it.

projekt

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2015, 11:11:35 AM »
It's pretty easy to do a full 1040 if you need it. I use the Free File forms and this Excel Spreadsheet. Note that these resources won't be available for another couple weeks. Of course, neither are your W2s and 1099s, necessarily. The spreadsheet caculates everything and then you just enter the numbers into FreeFile.

Read through the instructions for the 1040 to see if there's anything on that form that you need. If not, read the 1040EZ instructions and see if you can fill that out. If you can't, do a 1040A and it'll take less than 1 evening.

Spork

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2015, 12:00:11 PM »
I've used Turbotax for > 15 years (desktop version) and I'm sure Taxact is similar.  I wouldn't say my taxes are hard... but I do have to deal with selling equities.  In the turbotax, that implies buying their "Premiere" product -- but I've always done it with "Deluxe" and never had a problem.


You probably can't get by with Deluxe this year. Intuit removed Schedule D from the Deluxe product and it is now only available in Premier and higher.

That blows.  In previous years -- as long as you can figure your basis, you were golden.
Seriously?  Seriously?  You need Premier to file if you sell stock???

I was going to say I've been reasonably happy with TTax for years, but seriously?  Totally pissed I've already bought it.

I bought mine already, too.  We'll see if that's true.  If so, you can usually (or at least you used to be able to) upgrade as you go.   ... but if it is true, I'll probably stop using it after this year.

The reporting laws are such that your trading statements now are required to have the basis (unless you transferred the stock in and they don't know what it is).  I guess I see what they're doing...   The whole point of premiere was they'd do the (simple) math.  Now there isn't even simple math.  It's "what is on your statement?".

Exflyboy

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2015, 12:07:24 PM »
Part of this is depending on how complex your taxes are.

I have 2 rentals, a farm business, my Wife did a little self employed working last Summer for the first time, I rebuilt a deck on one of my Rentals etc, sold some stock, got a severence package etc.

Its not the math that scares me, more like I am unaware of some sublety of the rules.

The other thing is I know its been done correctly and the IRS sees the stamp from my CPA.

I spend about $350 and I think I am buying audit protection insurance.

One day I will do them myself.. when its simpler and out income is not jumping around perhaps.


geekette

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2015, 12:31:11 PM »
I've used Turbotax for > 15 years (desktop version) and I'm sure Taxact is similar.  I wouldn't say my taxes are hard... but I do have to deal with selling equities.  In the turbotax, that implies buying their "Premiere" product -- but I've always done it with "Deluxe" and never had a problem.


You probably can't get by with Deluxe this year. Intuit removed Schedule D from the Deluxe product and it is now only available in Premier and higher.

That blows.  In previous years -- as long as you can figure your basis, you were golden.
Seriously?  Seriously?  You need Premier to file if you sell stock???

I was going to say I've been reasonably happy with TTax for years, but seriously?  Totally pissed I've already bought it.

I bought mine already, too.  We'll see if that's true.  If so, you can usually (or at least you used to be able to) upgrade as you go.   ... but if it is true, I'll probably stop using it after this year.

The reporting laws are such that your trading statements now are required to have the basis (unless you transferred the stock in and they don't know what it is).  I guess I see what they're doing...   The whole point of premiere was they'd do the (simple) math.  Now there isn't even simple math.  It's "what is on your statement?".
I'm in an online chat with TTax now. They are upgrading me to Premier.  I think they will be doing a LOT of that this tax season.  Get in line early.

Spork

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #30 on: January 09, 2015, 12:39:58 PM »

I'm in an online chat with TTax now. They are upgrading me to Premier.  I think they will be doing a LOT of that this tax season.  Get in line early.

(Sorry I am such a threadjacker.)

Are they upgrading you free?  Or charging the difference?

eil

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2015, 01:10:20 PM »
Unless your taxes are ridiculously complex, $445 is an outright rip-off. $50-$200 is the norm, depending on location.

Lots of good responses so far, but I'll add my own.

Our taxes were never terribly interesting but we paid a friend of the family $100 to do our taxes simply because I was too afraid of tackling it myself. But then he decided to retire from doing personal taxes and I couldn't find anyone around here who would do them. I was stuck between the fly-by-night tax preparation places who hire temp workers with no actual tax law knowledge and CPAs who either wouldn't touch individual tax preparation or wanted to charge insane moniez to do so.

So with time running out that year, I decided to try the software approach and bought the H&R Block software. Figuring if it didn't work out, I could always stop by one of their offices and get things sorted, even if it meant paying for tax preparation twice. It actually went pretty well. The software "interviews" you to ask about all of the things that can affect your taxes.

I used the H&R Block software for another year after that until I ran into a bug that prevented me from actually being able to enter some investment information. Called up the company and told them about it and after about an hour of back-and-forth with the person on the other end, they finally acknowledged that it was a bug, that there was no work-around, and that they don't issue refunds as a matter of policy. Since I bought it from Amazon, I appealed to Amazon and they refunded the cost of the software.

That year, I decided to give TaxAct a try and found that it was even better than H&R Block anyway, and the price is lower to boot. And best of all, it's all done through a web browser which means I don't have to switch over to Windows or hijack my wife's Mac every evening for a week just to do the taxes. I'm not terribly fond of the idea of my personal and financial information being stored on someone else's servers, but I figure they're at least as safe there as in the IRS's computer system.

geekette

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2015, 01:13:11 PM »

I'm in an online chat with TTax now. They are upgrading me to Premier.  I think they will be doing a LOT of that this tax season.  Get in line early.

(Sorry I am such a threadjacker.)

Are they upgrading you free?  Or charging the difference?
After a LONG online chat, they are supposed to be snail mailing me the upgraded version free.  They balked for a bit because I bought it from Amazon (in combination with Quicken 2015, another Intuit product)rather than directly through Intuit (who does that?)

If I do get it, I'll be happy for this year, but definitely looking elsewhere next year.

Longwaytogo

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2015, 01:15:16 PM »
Part of this is depending on how complex your taxes are.

I have 2 rentals, a farm business, my Wife did a little self employed working last Summer for the first time, I rebuilt a deck on one of my Rentals etc, sold some stock, got a severence package etc.

Its not the math that scares me, more like I am unaware of some sublety of the rules.

The other thing is I know its been done correctly and the IRS sees the stamp from my CPA.

I spend about $350 and I think I am buying audit protection insurance.

One day I will do them myself.. when its simpler and out income is not jumping around perhaps.

Yeah I hear you, Would not have considered it when I was self employed. Even when I was deducting mileage and selling off some of my wife's stocks and stuff would have been harder. This year is just so basic I'm tempted to save the money.

gimp

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2015, 01:19:53 PM »
I pay for tax software.

This year, I have to file for 3 states and 3 jobs, as well as relocation, as well as some other shit. Fuuuuck doing that by hand. Kind of expensive since software packages tend to only include one state by default.

I am hoping that for the 2015 tax year, 1 state / 1 job / no relocation won't be terribly difficult. Itemized, yes. Some investment stuff, yes. But that should be straightforward. I will likely still pay for the software for convenience / error checking, but I will have already run my numbers previously by hand to make sure.

For most people, even the software is not necessary. One form is all that is needed. It would take about two hours at most to do it by hand; many people could do it in a half hour if they weren't so nervous.

Longwaytogo

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2015, 01:21:54 PM »
@ GoldenStache- Expecting way too big of a refund to consider any gift card oiprion

@Longwaytogo
If you are expecting a very large tax refund you are doing something wrong.  Don't give the MAN an interest free loan.

I have my wife at 4 dependents (her, me, 2 kids). I'm mostly a stay at home dad now. Should I have her claim even more dependents;  or is there a way to just tell payroll how much you want deducted? How else can I get more out of her paycheck?

Also she is a teacher, so we have been sort of using tax return as part of our summer funding since she only gets paid 10 months a year.

@ eil-  I agree that $445 is a rip off which is what prompted me to consider doing it myself. Should have done it last year but I sold some stock, did some energy efficient upgrades,... and was a lazy wimp. Got to fix that this year

madage

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2015, 02:04:30 PM »

After a LONG online chat, they are supposed to be snail mailing me the upgraded version free.  They balked for a bit because I bought it from Amazon (in combination with Quicken 2015, another Intuit product)rather than directly through Intuit (who does that?)

If I do get it, I'll be happy for this year, but definitely looking elsewhere next year.

After more research, you can access the form version of Schedule D in TT Deluxe, but you will need to upgrade to Premier to e-file. I believe you should be able to enter the appropriate numbers on the Schedule D form and print your return for mailing without Premier. Anyone with Deluxe want to confirm?
« Last Edit: January 09, 2015, 04:58:31 PM by madage »

TerriM

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2015, 02:25:16 PM »
@ GoldenStache- Expecting way too big of a refund to consider any gift card oiprion

@Longwaytogo
If you are expecting a very large tax refund you are doing something wrong.  Don't give the MAN an interest free loan.

I have my wife at 4 dependents (her, me, 2 kids). I'm mostly a stay at home dad now. Should I have her claim even more dependents;  or is there a way to just tell payroll how much you want deducted? How else can I get more out of her paycheck?

Also she is a teacher, so we have been sort of using tax return as part of our summer funding since she only gets paid 10 months a year.

@ eil-  I agree that $445 is a rip off which is what prompted me to consider doing it myself. Should have done it last year but I sold some stock, did some energy efficient upgrades,... and was a lazy wimp. Got to fix that this year

Yes--definitely have your wife's work set the amount to be taken out to what you need to break even.  You don't want to owe taxes either because you could end up paying a penalty.  Probably worse than the US gov't holding onto it for a while.

Stock, energy upgrades, etc. are all covered by HRBlock and probably all of the other programs.   Try it.  Save yourself the $400.

Wile E. Coyote

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #38 on: January 09, 2015, 02:52:43 PM »
@ GoldenStache- Expecting way too big of a refund to consider any gift card oiprion

@Longwaytogo
If you are expecting a very large tax refund you are doing something wrong.  Don't give the MAN an interest free loan.

I have my wife at 4 dependents (her, me, 2 kids). I'm mostly a stay at home dad now. Should I have her claim even more dependents;  or is there a way to just tell payroll how much you want deducted? How else can I get more out of her paycheck?

Also she is a teacher, so we have been sort of using tax return as part of our summer funding since she only gets paid 10 months a year.

@ eil-  I agree that $445 is a rip off which is what prompted me to consider doing it myself. Should have done it last year but I sold some stock, did some energy efficient upgrades,... and was a lazy wimp. Got to fix that this year

The IRS has a withholding calculator that you can use to adjsut your withholdings.  Run through it and then just file a new W-4 with her employer.

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator

CAtoTX

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #39 on: January 09, 2015, 03:14:26 PM »
IMHO, doing your taxes using online software isn't going to teach you about tax law.  It's basically a Q&A "interview" format where they collect your information in a non-threatening manner and then the "magic" of the software creates a return for you.  You may learn a few things based on what questions are asked, but that is about it. 
Your tax person is probably raising his fee because the software he uses is raising prices each year as well.  It does cost about $75 minimum just in software fees, to file a minimal return for Federal and one state.  Adding Schedule D is really adding 3 to 6 more forms thanks to the non-covered and covered stock sale worksheets. 
There is also the new ACA medical insurance reporting form for 2014, and the calculations for premium credits and possible tax increase if you have claimed a subsidy on the exchange. 
Also, not that this applies to you, but if you own business or rental property, you most probably need to file at least one Form 3115 for 2014 due to the changes in repair regulations.  I don't think the do-it-yourself software will have that form.

geekette

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #40 on: January 09, 2015, 03:33:56 PM »


After a LONG online chat, they are supposed to be snail mailing me the upgraded version free.  They balked for a bit because I bought it from Amazon (in combination with Quicken 2015, another Intuit product)rather than directly through Intuit (who does that?)

If I do get it, I'll be happy for this year, but definitely looking elsewhere next year.

After more research, you can access the form version of Schedule D in TT Deluxe, but you will need to upgrade to Premier to e-file. I believe you should be able to enter the appropriate numbers on the Schedule D form and print your return for mailing without Premier. Anyone want with Deluxe want to confirm?

In the Amazon reviews, there was mention that you could fill out the form, print all your tax forms, and mail them in, so it looks like yes.  It's a workaround. 

marty998

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #41 on: January 09, 2015, 04:01:14 PM »
I fid this thread fascinating. You guys actually have to pay private companies to provide tax software for you to then have to do your own taxes?

TurboTax, HR Block, TaxAct?

You should take to the streets and protest to demand your government/IRS provide a free downloadable program!

We have one. The Australian Tax Office provides a free download software called eTax. Covers everything from work income to trust income, capital gains, employee share schemes, all deductions, tax offsets, rebates. It even works out your HECS (student loan) repayments, private health rebates and medicare levies. You can do rental schedules, business income (for unincorporated businesses) and and the end of it all gives you a tax payable refundable estimate with quick and easy online lodgement to the ATO.

2 weeks later you get funds credited to your bank account or a notice to pay your tax liability by cheque or EFT. It's so simple and has hundreds of help pages covering all situations.

I hope you guys can at least claim the cost of the software as a deduction. Down here we can claim all "costs of managing tax affairs". Usually this is accountants fees but you can also claim costs incurred in getting tax law advice.

belgiandude

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #42 on: January 09, 2015, 04:20:15 PM »
Hmm, seems complicated.

In Belgium, I just log in to the government tax website with my identity card with chip. I click next, next, finish; as it is pre-filled (government knows already how much I earned, how much was deducted from my salary, etc.)

Roots&Wings

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #43 on: January 09, 2015, 04:28:25 PM »
I fid this thread fascinating. You guys actually have to pay private companies to provide tax software for you to then have to do your own taxes?

TurboTax, HR Block, TaxAct?

You should take to the streets and protest to demand your government/IRS provide a free downloadable program!

We have one. The Australian Tax Office provides a free download software called eTax. Covers everything from work income to trust income, capital gains, employee share schemes, all deductions, tax offsets, rebates. It even works out your HECS (student loan) repayments, private health rebates and medicare levies. You can do rental schedules, business income (for unincorporated businesses) and and the end of it all gives you a tax payable refundable estimate with quick and easy online lodgement to the ATO.

2 weeks later you get funds credited to your bank account or a notice to pay your tax liability by cheque or EFT. It's so simple and has hundreds of help pages covering all situations.

I hope you guys can at least claim the cost of the software as a deduction. Down here we can claim all "costs of managing tax affairs". Usually this is accountants fees but you can also claim costs incurred in getting tax law advice.

Of course Americans don't have to pay private companies to do our taxes.  That's a personal choice.  The IRS has free tax programs (http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free), which apparently aren't marketed as well as the for-profit tax software programs.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2015, 04:35:21 PM »
You should take to the streets and protest to demand your government/IRS provide a free downloadable program!
Some have tried pushing for legislation in that sense but the tax software lobbyists have yet to lose this battle.

Doing your taxes by hand isn't really hard for most people. The first year it took me maybe 4 hours total, but the following were much easier once you wrap your head around the concepts involved. Believe it or not but there's some logic behind it all.

lexie2000

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #45 on: January 09, 2015, 05:20:19 PM »
I usually do ours and without software, but ours is pretty straight forward even though we itemize and file a Sched D.

teen persuasion

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #46 on: January 09, 2015, 05:35:02 PM »
@ GoldenStache- Expecting way too big of a refund to consider any gift card oiprion

@Longwaytogo
If you are expecting a very large tax refund you are doing something wrong.  Don't give the MAN an interest free loan.

I have my wife at 4 dependents (her, me, 2 kids). I'm mostly a stay at home dad now. Should I have her claim even more dependents;  or is there a way to just tell payroll how much you want deducted? How else can I get more out of her paycheck?

Also she is a teacher, so we have been sort of using tax return as part of our summer funding since she only gets paid 10 months a year.

@ eil-  I agree that $445 is a rip off which is what prompted me to consider doing it myself. Should have done it last year but I sold some stock, did some energy efficient upgrades,... and was a lazy wimp. Got to fix that this year

If you are getting the Child Tax Credit for both kids, that is probably part of your overpayment.  We get that plus EITC, so I have DH claim 14 to get his withholding as close to zero as possible.  Not quite enough for our state withholding, but they won't let you go to 15.

I've been doing our taxes myself forever.  I did them on paper for years, until we got the option to use TurboTax for free to efile.  I actually dislike the Q & A format, it takes me longer than just putting the numbers in the spots on the forms.  You can download a copy of the 1040 or 1040A or EZ, and the appropriate instruction book from IRS.gov, or get a paper copy from your library (once they get them, things are delayed again this year).  Pull out last years copy, look at this year's form, follow along in the instructions (they go line by line), add other forms as you need them, most are shorter and often have sections that don't apply to you.  This is where you will learn how the details affect your taxes.  If you want to efile, run it thru TurboTax or Tax Act or whichever, and see if the bottom line agrees with what you calculated.  Look at the finished 1040 from the software to find differences - did you forget something, or did they not include something you did, and why?

I always do at least a quick calculation on paper, even if I use TurboTax, just to make sure they didn't miss something.  Our taxes are pretty simple (no itemizing, no stock sales, etc), but we've got kids in college, EITC, additional CTC, HSA, so there are a bunch of forms.  I walk the kids thru doing their taxes, too.  DS2 has been doing them since he was 15.

Oh, and I hear you about the no pay in summer thing - DH taught 12 years and his school did the same thing.  Don't forget the teacher supply deduction! 

Spork

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #47 on: January 09, 2015, 08:24:23 PM »

I'm in an online chat with TTax now. They are upgrading me to Premier.  I think they will be doing a LOT of that this tax season.  Get in line early.

(Sorry I am such a threadjacker.)

Are they upgrading you free?  Or charging the difference?
After a LONG online chat, they are supposed to be snail mailing me the upgraded version free.  They balked for a bit because I bought it from Amazon (in combination with Quicken 2015, another Intuit product)rather than directly through Intuit (who does that?)

If I do get it, I'll be happy for this year, but definitely looking elsewhere next year.

Thanks Geekette!  Just got my upgrade (and will try something else next year.)

My attack plan was:
* ask for a refund
* know they'll say no because I didn't buy it online
* quote them this:
Quote
If you bought or downloaded TurboTax from a retailer:
Try TurboTax software. If you're not satisfied, return it to Intuit within 60 days of purchase with your dated receipt for a full refund.
from here: https://turbotax.intuit.com/corp/guarantees.jsp
* bam.  Immediate upgrade offer.

edit to add:
I've also emailed SwitchToBlock@hrblock.com -- they are reportedly giving a free replacement copy of their software if you provide proof of purchase of TT.  This is genius marketing!

I plan to use both of them this year:  TT premiere and HRB and see what the differences are.   
« Last Edit: January 10, 2015, 09:21:23 AM by Spork »

TerriM

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #48 on: January 09, 2015, 09:24:09 PM »
I fid this thread fascinating. You guys actually have to pay private companies to provide tax software for you to then have to do your own taxes?

TurboTax, HR Block, TaxAct?

You should take to the streets and protest to demand your government/IRS provide a free downloadable program!

Be careful what you ask for.  If the government provided it, it would be delivered late, cost taxpayers 100x what it costs private industry to make, not work half the time, and you'd still be legally responsible for any mistakes on your return.

I'm ok paying for the software.

Miss Prim

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Re: Scared to do my own taxes?
« Reply #49 on: January 10, 2015, 07:51:23 AM »
I use taxactonline.com.  It costs under $20.00 to e-file state and fed.  We have a rental property and business, sometimes need a schedule D and I can do all that easily and it doesn't cost any more.  And it fills in your information from year to year, including w-2's.  You just have to put in the dollar numbers.  It is an awesome program.

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