It's that time of year again... The time when gray hairs turn a couple shades grayer and occasionally multiply, wrinkles gain just a bit of definition, and the corners of our mouths generally droop a few extra millimeters, along with our greater countenance. Tax time.
Filing taxes is never fun, but it can be less stressful if you enlist the right support, be it in the form of a tax professional or tax software. Here's what you need to know about income tax software.
- What is income tax? The Federal government collects income tax on an individual's earnings, which begs the second question: what are earnings? The answer is not always clear; depending on where you live, you may be expected to pay tax on "earnings" as varied as stock sales, gambling and bank interest. That's right - income tax varies from state to state. On top of that, if you're not a full-time employee, you probably haven't experienced the pay-as-you-go income tax taken out of your paychecks. Luckily, there are tax software programs that can conveniently and assuredly guide you through your personal income tax questions, ensuring that you don't get audited for them.
- TurboTax. Choose from several tax-filing packages, ranging in price from about $75 to absolutely free (only applicable for the most simplistic return). Your choice of package will depend on priorities - getting the most deductions (personal or business), managing your investments, or all of the above. State tax help is additional for each package, but if you aren't familiar with your state's income tax requirements, then you should spring for it to ensure that you pay your full income taxes.
- TaxCut. H&R Block's tax software offering is a gem. Like TurboTax, you can either file your taxes online on your own or do it with the help of live staff for an extra fee. Prices range from around $10 to about $80, but for income tax purposes, best to go with at least the $40 "TaxCut Premium + State" package.
- TaxACT. Low price is one of the main selling points of the TaxACT software options; prices range from absolutely nothing (to e-file a very simple return) to roughly $15. Once again, you will pay an additional fee to add state tax assistance to any of the packages, but for those of us with a feeble grasp of state income tax, it's worth every penny.
- Free File Home. The IRS offers a free service through its website - nice of them, isn't it?! It's not their software you'll be using, however, but rather the software of any one of a large group of tax software companies. There's one catch: your adjusted gross income has to be no more than $52,000. You might be slapped with some minor state tax fees as well (I suppose that makes two catches).
- Amazon.com. You can compare tax software programs and even save some money on them! If the user comments are filled with complaints, you can judge the complaints to determine whether you might share them after using the program. You won't find this kind of user feedback posted on the tax software websites themselves, so it pays to visit Amazon.
There are numerous tax software programs that can help you file your income tax this year. Don't hesitate to research and learn more about the fine tax software mentioned above or other programs of merit. Good luck!