Tax Preparation Software Improves

Tax Preparation Software photo
Photo by citizens4taxjustice

By now, most people have received their tax forms and financial documents. This means that taxpayers are ready to get their tax returns completed and filed. The final step for most people involves choosing a tax preparation software, like Turbo Tax or H&R Block. For this year, that decision is a little bit more difficult. Companies have added new features this time around.

For instance, Turbo Tax now offers a mobile experience that’s identical to its desktop version. Users on iOS and Android devices will use exactly what desktop users do. Taxpayers can seamlessly switch from one version to another. Plus, all tax documents can be uploaded from a smartphone’s camera with ease.

H&R Block, TaxAct, and Turbo Tax are offering their software for free once again. Unlike previous years, users can access more features through free versions. Most companies are going to charge extra for state returns, but Turbo Tax is offering the service free of charge to simple return users.

Also, it’s important to note that CD versions of tax prep software are mostly gone. Users will have to access the software over the Internet. This won’t affect too many users, although some taxpayers prefer the disk versions of their favorite software. For most companies, the install CD is still available, but that won’t be true in a couple of years.

More and more features have been added to Turbo Tax and other tax preparation software. As soon as users pass the Turbo Tax login, they will notice some of these changes!

An Important Guide On Filing Taxes Online

An agreement between a group of private companies that produce tax filing software,the Free File Alliance, and the IRS has made it very easy to file your taxes. Even filing taxes online. The companies have availed their software to be used at absolutely no charge. This has resulted in over 40 million people turning to filing taxes electronically because of the ease and safety associated with this method. When you file your returns electronically, you also benefit from being able to receive your refund faster than those who have to go through a lot of paperwork.

Filing Taxes Online
FILE Rubber Stamp (Photo credit: Enokson)

In order to use the Free File software, you need to visit the IRS website (www.IRS.gov). Here, you will have to choose the preferred program for preparation, printing and filing of your taxes returns.

The free File software employ numerous techniques to help you accomplish the task. The use of questions and answers is a very common technique used in order for the software to determine the tax forms to be use before it goes ahead and computes the required calculations. This way, you can also identify tax breaks and tax credits that can be claimed.

In case your revenue for the previous year was less than $58,000, you can use TurboTax 2014 or Free File forms for anything above that.

When you use Free File, you can easily and freely request for an extension of up to six months in case you are unable to file your taxes by April 15th deadline. Check IRS Publication 17 for details. However, it is advisable to file your taxes by April 15 to avoid penalties and accumulation of interest. You can eliminate the headache and stress associated with filing taxes by choosing to use Free File. It is not only easy but quick. To find out which brand you are eligible for and any other pertinent information, visit IRS.gov/freefile.

The IRS Publication 17 And You

IRS Publication 17

IRS publication 17 deals with general instructions and guidance for people using form 1040. Paying income tax can be daunting but reading this publication will aid you in this process. The materials contained in this publication are the interpretation of the Internal Revenue Service of court decisions, treasury regulations, tax laws, and additions to the tax code. It also deals with general rules and reminders to help you file your return.

Paying taxes is required for both citizens and...
Paying taxes is required for both citizens and non-citizens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IRS publication 17 can be extremely helpful for filing your tax returns.  If you are new to the workforce, it can tell you whether you have to file a return and if you do which form to use. It also gives you guidelines as to which records to keep, information on dependents, what is a filing status, and what exactly income is. E filing, how to check the status of a refund, and what to do if you make a mistake are also covered in this publication.

There are many flowcharts, everyday illustrations, and various scenarios of how the tax laws apply to real-life situations. For example IRS publication 17 illustrates tax questions; such as can you claim medical expenses you paid for a deceased spouse if you remarry and file jointly with your new spouse.  The answer is yes; you may claim these expenses. It also clarifies charitable donations with an example of a donated coat that originally cost $300 but the charity thrift store sold the coat for $50; the fair market value of the coat would be $50, which could be shown as a charitable contribution. However, if you are self-employed IRS publication 17 is useful but not all-inclusive; there are other publications that will give you further information on various tax laws and forms for business tax filing.

If you have questions about how to file, where to file, or how to determine income or expenses for IRS form 1040, IRS publication 17 should be the first place you look for information.

Electronic Version Of Pub 17: Getting Cozy With The IRS

Electronic Version Of Pub 17

The electronic version of pub 17 is in PDF format. It contains valuable information about filing your federal tax return. The precise link from which to download the PDF is http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p17.pdf. The easiest way to work with it is to save the document on your computer hard drive. That way, you won’t need Internet access if you have to refer to the file again in the future.

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...
Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service. The design is the same as the Treasury seal with an IRS inscription. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most likely, you’ll need to look into it more than once, especially at crunch time, when the tax deadline is near. If you have enough time, you may want to familiarize yourself with the document so you know everything important. Doing this will help you compute your federal tax return accurately and avoid mistakes that can cost you come tax assessment time.

Be careful out there, you can fall prey to a joke complicated tax return if you end up in a phishing site. To avoid this from happening, look closely at the URL to make sure that you are going to the authentic IRS website. Becoming a victim of a joke complicated tax return can make the process of filing your income tax difficult when it should be rather easy and straightforward.

The best way to really learn to do it is to do it by hand, that is, without depending on tax software that automate the process of computing your taxes. The idea is simple, you just need to ascertain your true income, declare your deductions and claim you tax credits.

There’s an App for That: Taxes from Your Phone

We do pretty much everything from our phones these days, turns out, taxes are no different. Accountants and techies are combining forces as new ways develop for those who choose to file from their phone. From an easier way to track and report expenses to hand-held glossaries and customer service, exploring ways to file from your phone will change the way taxes get done.

Tracking Expenses

Deducting expenses is essential for businesses owners or the self-employed. Keeping track of those expenses however can be incredibly cumbersome. Travel, meals, supplies, and mileage really add up and the ability to immediately input related data and transfer that information to taxes can keep things clear and easy when the time comes to report.

  • iXpenseIt offers password protected expense tracking which can be programmed and stored in customizable categories.
  • ShoeBoxed integrates snap technology and expense reporting into one package. The app allows users to snap photos of receipts and upload them into an organizationally customizable online platform.
  • TripCubby provides the ability to track and record mileage and other travel data. The data collected can be exported into Excel using email or automatically added into deduction categories in the app itself.

Estimates

Mobile devices are especially handy for retrieving pertinent information for those who need an estimated income tax return but lack the actual W-2. Tax Caster by TurboTax doesn’t require exact figures to calculate return estimates which enable users to fulfill tax-based qualifications or anticipate amounts of returns without having to retrieve the actual tax information this includes more in-depth tax issues such as deductions related to family size, properties, alimony, and vehicles.

Much like expense reporting for businesses, keeping track of personal donations and other charitable activities is essential. A group of accountants created the iDonatedIt app which generates an itemized list of donated items, values and the date and location at which they were dropped off. Additionally, the app supports snapped photos of the donations which can be uploaded via email.

Questions and Support

Taxes can get confusing, particularly for those with more tax materials than the basic W-2. H&R Block has created the Tax Answers app which allows for a chat-based Q&A with their representatives. The app also provides FAQ categories and checklists as well as a handy glossary.

  • Internal Revenue Code (IRC) app by LawToGo.net is aimed at professionals or filers with complex returns and contains a searchable database of the various codes determined by the IRS.
  • TaxMama is an app which generates a costume tax calendar to suit various filing needs for those with different tax forms which carry different deadlines.
  • IRS2Go, produced by the IRS allows users to check the status of their filed tax return and refund while also providing information on pertinent updates.
  • MyTaxRefund by TurboTax can also track tax refund status, determine whether the return was accepted or rejected by the IRS and produce the expected date of refund arrival.

Filing

Phones have turned actual filing into a snap. Particularly with SnapTax which fills out the 1040EZ form using a snapped photo of a W-2. The information is filled automatically and can be filed after review. However, SnapTax is currently available only for Californian 1040EZ filers.

Katei Cranford is a freelance writer and tech lover who insists on filing taxes properly and helping others do the same.

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