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Do You Do Your Own Taxes?

For many years we used a tax accountant to do our taxes. We would get our paperwork together, make an appointment, and meet up at the accountant’s office. I never enjoyed paying  $300 to have our taxes done and decided I could do it myself! After all, our taxes were pretty straight forward.

 

Tax Preparation

Before tackling this tax job, I got all my ducks in a row.

  • I added all of our medical, dental and prescription receipts (separately).
  • Printed off last year’s google calendar and figured mileage, for volunteer and medical trips.
  • Added sales tax from each and every receipt from the year.
  • Pulled out our tax folder. This is where anything related to tax goes, throughout the year. Things like vehicle tab renewals, W-2’s, 1098’s, etc.

Sounds like a lot of work? It is, and it may not be necessary to do it all. If your medical (paid out of pocket) is not 10% of your adjusted gross income, skip it! The sales tax thing wasn’t worth the time, as we didn’t have any huge purchases but I am always curious how much we spend on sales tax each year.

Jumping In To Tax Software

I logged in to TaxACT and downloaded our file from last year. I went through the process step by step but, somehow, I had entered a number wrong and the calculator didn’t move from the, you owe $15,000 mark, the entire time. I kept thinking it would move but it didn’t. There’s just no way that was right. I was ready to make an appointment with the tax accountant.

Before I made the phone call, I decided to check out TurboTax and entered my numbers there. Right away, I knew the 12bDD number had been entered wrong, on the other site. I continued through the process, on TurboTax, before correcting my mistake on TaxAct.

Here’s what I learned from using the two sites:

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TaxACT

Pros

  • Gave me the option to enter miles, for volunteer work.
  • Allowed me to use a table, for sales tax.
  • Deluxe Version was $12.99.

Cons

  • Small print was hard to read and there were lots of words. Lots and lots of words.
  • Kept logging me out.
  • The place to enter the 12bDD amount was confusing and went to the wrong code, without me realizing it. It went to ‘tips’, or something like that, which is why it showed we owed $15,000.

TurboTax

Pros

  • After squinting, with TaxACT (yes, my eyes are not what they used to be), TurboTax was a breath of fresh air and changed my attitude, pronto. The screens were super user friendly and easy to navigate.
  • It was very clear, what to put where.

Cons

  • It was $34.99 for what we needed.
  • I did not see a spot to input miles, for volunteer work.
  • I did not see a table for sales tax. (It’s not to say these spots were not there. I would have needed to dig further to figure out where to put these numbers.)
  • Medical was broken down, into categories, instead of lumped together. Lab fees, facility fees, professional fees, etc. I had taken the time to add what we actually paid for medical and broke it down between medical, prescriptions, dental and eye. Much more than that would have been a huge headache and I’m not sure it’s necessary.

My Takeaway

If I wasn’t itemizing, I would have paid the extra, for the experience of TurboTax. TurboTax actually makes it a very simple and happy experience, to do your own taxes.

I ended up going with TaxACT, simply because of the extra deductions I was able to take. The fact that I had already paid the $12.99 factored in as well.

The difference in refund between the two was $247. I will squint for that.

Because we actually had to pay taxes one year, many moons ago, we are okay giving the government a loan and receiving a refund. This year our refund will wipe out one of our credit card’s debt and make a dent in the other.

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