Most people cringe at the thought of doing their own taxes, and believe me, I feel your pain. I once tried to do taxes on my own by following the publications published by the IRS. Not only were the instructions very long, they were also quite difficult to follow. In the end, I did manage to get my taxes done, but it took an entire day.
I’ve long thought that there should be shorter, cheat-sheet versions of IRS instructions, so everyone, including people who don’t have accounting degrees, can do their own taxes. Some politicians have advocated simplifying the tax code. However, it probably comes as no surprise that this has just been talk, and nothing has been done for years.
The next best thing to simple instructions, however, is tax preparations software such as Turbotax. Unfortunately, Turbotax if pretty much the only tax preparation program worth mentioning. Just about all other programs are vastly inferior and not much better than doing taxes on your own.
What makes Turbotax stand out, in my opinion, is that it uses a simple interview format for completing your taxes. This basically just means that you complete and “interview” where you answer a series of questions as the program completes your forms for you.
The downside, however, is that I find it very difficult to jump between different sections of the interview. In most cases, you can skip to a certain section easily, but then you are forced to answer all the questions in that section all over again. This is a serious flaw in the program that I hope will be fixed in future versions.
One great development with regards to Turbotax is that in recent years, it has become unnecessary to purchase a boxed edition of the software. Instead, you can complete all your taxes online for free. This is highly convenient, and saves you a trip to a software outlet. To get started using the free version of Turbotax, simply get the Turbotax Federal Free Edition available from FreeTrialSpot.com.
Once the software is done with your taxes and you are ready to file, you will need to purchase the program to proceed any further. The price you pay depends on how complex your returns are. That said, most consumers can expect to pay between $39 – $79.
Don’t forget to complete your state taxes as well. Turbotax offers software to complete your state taxes as well. For the most part, information from your federal form is copied over, and completing your state taxes therefore takes a lot less time.
Get more information about the turbotax free edition.