Archive | April, 2013

T-Minus 10 days. Haven’t Started Your Taxes? No Problem

Who doesn’t love Taxes?

A lot of folks think that taxes are this big, scary monster. They aren’t.

Here’s why: Unless you have a lot of complex investments and run your own small holding company which holds businesses that you also own shares of, but not 100% of…then there are many easy to use tools.

You could do this all by hand, and technically it would be cheaper, but for the amount of time it would take (seriously, have you ever actually tried to do taxes by hand? It sucks), I’d rather just pay the $55 to use a tool to make it easier for me.

My personal recommendation is: TurboTax

There are really just two major players in the market that is tax software: TurboTax, and H&R Block.

TurboTax is proven, and it is easy. You import your documents (you do still have your W-2, don’t you?) and then answer some simple questions. If you transact online, you can actually provide your login information, and TurboTax will import all of your documents. If you use Mint.com, you can link up and they will import from all of your accounts. Most W-2’s can be imported as well. It’s very smooth.

With my fairly complex Taxes, it took me just one hour from start to finish to complete my taxes.

How much does it cost? Well, if you are in a no-income tax state, like Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota (do people live there?), Texas, Washington, or Wyoming, then you are looking at a $0.00 cost to file your taxes, if they are simple.

If you have to file state taxes, then you are looking at a cost of $39.99 if you use the online version. Ouch!

However, if you use SnapTax (the TurboTax App) then you’ll pay just $24.99.

Okay, is your head spinning yet?

How to finish your taxes, in 168 words

State Taxes:

If you made under $57,000 this year, then use http://www.myfreetaxes.com/. Not quite as simple as TurboTax, though, so if you value simplicity, see the next option.
If you made over $57,000 this year, or you value simplicity, use TurboTax. It’ll be $24.99 if you had simple taxes, or $39.99 if you have complex taxes. If you made over $57,000, you can afford $40.

Federal Taxes:

If you had super basic taxes – a W-2, maybe a 1099-INT (Interest Form) – Then download Snap Tax
Cost: $24.99
If you are active duty military, are in the military reserves, own a home, have lots of deductions, or have education expenses, use TurboTax Deluxe
Cost: $34.99
If you sold stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, or you own a rental property, use TurboTax Premier
Cost: $74.99
If you own a small business, or have a lot of business deductions, you’ll want to use TurboTax Home & Business, (or, more realistically, it may be time to get an accountant)
Cost: $99.99

Save Money on your Taxes

Now, you don’t honestly think I’d have you paying full price to do your taxes, do you? That would be silly.
For example, this year, I need to use TurboTax Premier, since I had investments (though as a Texas Resident, I have no Income Taxes – yippee!). I marked it as $74.99 above, but since I went through fidelity, I got $20 off. As near as I can tell, you don’t need to be an actual fidelity customer to use this coupon.
If you are unable to use that coupon for some reason, however, try this Discount Code for TurboTax
Last, but not least. If both of those fail you, then just try searching RetailMeNot for some coupon codes (in fact, that’s a good idea any time you’re going to spend money online.

Should you wait until October 15th to pay your taxes?

If you are getting a refund, you should have already filed and gotten that money back (and saved it, right?) 
If, however, you have to pay taxes, why not wait until October? “Tax Deadline is April 15th, Paul. Duh, Everybody knows that”
There is a little known tool that you can use to give yourself extra time. It’s called an Extension. The IRS will let you file a form 4868 (where do you think these numbers come from, anyway?) which basically says “Hey, IRS…I’m not ready – but I swear I’ll have the money to you by October 15th”
Pretty much anyone can file an extension and get until October 15th to file. Here’s why you shouldn’t:
According to the IRS:

An extension will give you extra time to get your paperwork to the IRS, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April [15] deadline, plus you may owe penalties. 

There you go – I wanted to keep this one short, since you don’t have enough time to think through all of your options. It’s time to go ahead and file your taxes.

And of course, if you get a refund, you should invest it wisely…perhaps in a retirement fund? Yes, yes you should invest it in your retirement fund.

Disclosure: I don’t get a single penny if you buy anything through any of the links I provided. Fidelity may get a cut if you go through their link, however.

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