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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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Jason @ Phroogal

Tuesday 17th of February 2015

I've used TurboTax for years and started looking at some alternative methods and Tax Act was one of them. What I like about TurboTax is the ease of use as you mentioned.

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Wednesday 18th of February 2015

TurboTax is super user friendly! I'm curious, did you end up sticking with TurboTax?!

Abigail @ipickuppennies

Monday 16th of February 2015

Yes and no. I have an S-corp because my company can only hire me as a contract worker. I tried to do my own taxes one year, based on the ones I'd paid for the year before. I think I got it right, but it was a huge headache and nerve-wracking.

So I found a reasonably priced CPA. I organize all my numbers clearly, and I try to categorize them based on the various categories in the forms. Not including filing fees, I generally pay around $100-150.

But our taxes? I can deal with that. We even have some rental income from the in-laws in the guest house, but there are depreciation calculators online. And places like TaxAct will do federal forms for free. Just plug in the numbers and voila!

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Monday 16th of February 2015

It's great to hear how easy it is to do your own taxes with a rental! I would be a little intimidated with the S-Corp but it sounds like you found a great deal! I love hearing your perspective. Thank you for stopping by!

Lauren

Monday 16th of February 2015

We did our taxes with H&R Block software. It was a breeze, however I think the software costs $50 for the version we use. We bought it when they were running a special so we ended up not having to pay the full amount. Well worth it, as we were done in a few hours and had our refund a week later! Maybe we'll check out a new program next year and see where the best deal is.

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Monday 16th of February 2015

Okay, so trying to figure out the difference between purchasing software and doing taxes online. That may sound really silly but I'm new to all of this and I've been seeing TurboTax and TaxACT in stores for $40 - $50. You can file free online so I'm wondering what the advantage is.

Sounds like you had a super quick turn around! That's awesome!

kay ~ lifestylevoices.com

Saturday 14th of February 2015

We've always used the H&R Block software, but I'm willing to try something new. 2014 taxes. Let us pray. :)

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Sunday 15th of February 2015

Lol! Good luck with those taxes Kay! I have never tried H&R Block. Maybe I should triple check myself next year;0)

1MansMoney

Friday 13th of February 2015

We've been using a tax accountant the past 3 years and, for us, it's worth the $300. He explains all of the write offs for my wife's job to help us minimize the taxes we owe. We also appreciate the tax advise that he gives us for the upcoming year. It helps us get ahead of the curve.

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Friday 13th of February 2015

Those sound like great reasons to shell out the $300! If our finances were to get more complicated, we would probably go back to an accountant too. For now, we are super streamlined!

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