Filing your taxes is serious business. But you don’t have to be an accountant or financial expert to do it yourself, nor do you have to spend a ton of money to have one of these kinds of professionals do it for you, although it does feel like that sometimes, doesn’t it? All you really need is to choose the best tax software, and you can get the job done yourself without any pain and suffering.
Assess Your Situation
You can start by looking at your overall tax situation. Do you have a job where you receive a W-2 from your employer? Have you chosen to participate in your employer’s health insurance and retirement programs? Are you taking the standard deduction for your tax status? If you answer yes to all of these questions, you have a pretty clear-cut tax situation. That means you only need to look for the most basic version of tax software that’s offered. There are some that are absolutely free. If you have a simple tax scenario like this, you probably don’t need to pay for your software program, and you’ll come out just fine.
If your tax situation is a bit more complicated than that, there are still tax software programs that can help you get your taxes filed correctly and with confidence. You just want to pick an upgraded version that comes with add-ons you will need and other features. You’ll have to pay for these, but it will be worth it and likely still cost less than what you would have to pay a tax specialist to prepare your return for you.
Compare Filing Fees
Just about everything these days comes in versions. Obviously, the more upgrades a version has, the more it’s probably going to cost. But fees can be different across the board from one software package to another. If you find a tax software package that interests you, take a minute to compare the price of the filing fees to the cost for competitors’ filing fees. Make sure you look at the fees for both federal and state taxes where they’re both applicable.
Some Are Easier to Use Than Others
The whole point of using tax preparation software is to make your tax filing experience easier and less stressful. So it makes sense that you should look into how easy it is to use the different software packages you are considering. A good way to do that is by checking out what others have to say about which is the best tax software package and why. Users are usually looking for a smooth and easy tax preparation experience, so what other tax filers have to say about the different options for tax software available should be relevant for you too.
Amount of Guidance Differs Among Software Programs
One of the biggest factors that makes people choose one tax software over another, other than price of course, is if there is good guidance and instructions to follow. The tax preparation software packages that rate the highest are usually priced moderately and have really good guidance that takes users through the process of filling in the forms correctly and quickly. Good instructions are important, especially if you’re not that familiar with preparing your taxes. It also helps people understand any big changes that have occurred for the tax year in years like this one.
Methods of Getting Your Refund (For Those Who Are)
Not all of the tax preparation software packages will give you the same options for the methods you can choose to get your return. Direct deposit is an option under all of them, and so is receiving a check. Other methods though, like Visa cards or Amazon gift cards will only be available through specific software packages. Make sure you choose a tax preparation software package that offers the method you want for receiving your refund if you prefer a specific option.
Look For the Type of Help You Might Need
There are different types of help that come with the various software packages for tax preparation and filing. And some of the help will depend on what version of the software you have chosen. The types of help vary from forums, to online tutorials, to screen sharing with a professional and live chat. The type of help you need will be based on your confidence level for preparing your taxes on your own and how complicated, or not, your tax situation is.
You can also find help online with some of your questions about taxes. There are resources all over the Internet. Just make sure you are looking to a reputable source for the answers you seek.
This Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive or Difficult
If you dread doing your taxes, that’s ok, you’re just like the majority of us. But know that it doesn’t have to be something that is exceedingly hard or that costs you a bunch of money. There are great, inexpensive tax software packages that will make your tax filing experience a much more pleasant undertaking.