You’re Taxing Yourself

I know that many of you aren’t even thinking about your taxes, yet. Many of you will be waiting until the very last moment to file. That’s not a judgement, just an observation. Because I can claim no superiority for being an early filer- we’ve been filing as soon as possible for years only because most of our marriage my husband has worked a seasonal job and we need the tax refund to supplement our Winter income.

But anyway. I’m posting this public service announcement early to each my early filing peeps.

Stop paying a tax preparer to file your taxes!

Stop it now!

Today! This year!

You can do your own taxes for 1/8th to 1/10th what a tax preparer would charge.

I’m not saying, “Make this the last year you pay someone to file your taxes for you.” I’m saying, “File your taxes yourself this year! You can do it! I believe in you!”

Please, hear me out. I have a few fancy letters behind my name but I’m no genius. If you follow me for any length of time, no doubt you’ve seen grammar and spelling errors and probably you’ve had some serious, “I’m smarter than her,” moments.

Yet, I’ve been doing our taxes since we were freshmen in college.

…and we’ve NEVER been audited.

One year, we were applying for a home loan and the loan officer noticed a mistake on our taxes. They said in order to close on our house we had to correct the mistake.

I went back and re-did our taxes, did the walk of shame to the local tax office, refiled and went on with my life. That was over 10 years ago so we’re FREE from that error with no fear of recompense.

Taxes aren’t as scary as we’ve been conditioned to believe they are.

I rarely think the annoying inspirational, “Look at her. If she can do it, surely you can” is applicable. But this is one of those times.

I have absolutely nothing to gain if you listen to me. I am not plugging a particular software and I’m not getting compensated to tell you to do your own taxes.

There is not Society For Those Who Convince People To File Their Own Taxes Award.

Talking to you about filing your own taxes will not get me to the UN to speak about this great humanitarian effort.

Seriously Though

You pay some company HUNDREDS of dollars to file for you. Why?

Do you think they can get your money faster?

Do you think you are “covered” if you make a mistake?

Are you worried that you don’t understand the tax process enough to do it yourself?

Do all of the different “schedules” scare you?

What is your hold up?

Let me say this: If you think your taxes are super-complicated because you have multiple properties or you run your own business, dude. No, they are not too complicated to do them yourself.

I’m not suggesting you go to the post office and get a paper 1040 and sit in the corner with a beer and a pizza and suffer.

Do they still keep the tax papers at the post office? I don’t know.

This is what I do

If I currently own a slow computer and/ or I have slow internet, I go to the store, to the tax software aisle and I find the program that is most applicable to me. If I have quick download ability, I simply go to the company’s website and download my copy.

In order to determine which version of the tax software I need, there are huge, green checkmarks next to each version telling you which “schedules” that software has. If you have more complicated taxes; own a home, run a business, have rental property, etc, the software is more expensive but it is still about 1/8th to 1/10th what a tax preparer would charge.

Be prepared to pay a filing fee of about $20 in addition to the software cost for the filing fee. You can avoid this by printing out all the forms and mailing them instead.*

I want my money fast and the fastest way is e-filing.

And here’s why

If we file in January or February, we usually have our money back within a week or so. The only hitch in this had been a few years back the government did some weird thing where they held the refunds of people with dependents until the end of February. I was HOT but we still got our money quickly.

The later you file, the more people are filing.

When you prepare your taxes with a program, you don’t see the tax forms the program is filling out for you. It asks you a series of questions much like filling out an online application

The software updates itself with the newest tax information available the date you start and finish your taxes. Just like those preparers get.

The software checks for errors and it will tell you exactly what to change and will not let you proceed until you fix it. No. it doesn’t find every error, like the time I made a mistake on our income but it’s pretty thorough.

*When you file electronically, some IRS program or person at the IRS somewhere will accept or reject your taxes within 24-48 hours. This is the other reason I like filing electronically. If I use the software then print and mail to file, I don’t know how this is handled and if they do give me the opportunity to correct my taxes, the process could take weeks instead of hours.

You will have access to your tax information on a hard drive all year. This has proved very helpful to me through the years. My kids have needed tax information for FAFSA and we have needed it for other reasons. Doing this makes finding the information super-easy.

I no longer print out all those pages of tax forms. I only print past taxes if someone requests it.

Another benefit is the the tax preparation software uses your tax file from the year before to start your taxes each year. This saves you time filling out information like names, social security numbers, addresses, etc. -The program auto-fills a lot. You only have to change whatever information changed that year.

Once, my computer died and I lost my copy of my electronic file. In order to load tax information from the previous year, you need the software from the previous year on your computer and access to your tax file that software made. Don’t ask me why it needs the software. I don’t understand. I contacted the company and they sent me a copy of the software so that I could load the info I needed. Easy peasy. It was like a 12 hour delay. That’s it.

Tax prep software companies usually send returning customers coupon codes for reduced cost on the program. I like saving money.

Bonus: The program I use allows us to use the filing code 5 times. In the past, I have let my parent file with the software I bought. And as my kids get jobs and need to file taxes, I teach them how to use the program to file their taxes using my 5 free codes. LEGACY SELF FILERS!


You’re welcome.

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