Imagine doing taxes without having to make sure a pencil has been sharpened, looking for a calculator, or having to erase mistakes on a tax return. Imagine not having to worry about adding incorrectly or overlooking deductions.
Taxpayers who find themselves fretting over such concerns every year as April 15 approaches may find that using an online tax program to prepare their returns can make the process less painful. Preparing taxes manually requires a taxpayer to think, but using an online tax service is more about answering questions and entering data. In effect, all the adding and subtracting involved with the old-fashioned means of preparing taxes is replaced by typing and rolling a mouse on a computer or laptop.
Places to file your tax online can be found by searching the Internet, where various programs can be found, each offering different options for different costs. Each web site may vary with the addition of different options that include:
- Basic tax filing programs
- Enhanced programs that ask dozens of questions designed to help increase deductions
- Programs for taxpayers who have investment and rental properties
- Home and business
The decision to file taxes online also allows a taxpayer to prepare their taxes on their schedule. Most online programs allow a user to log out and back in at the point where they left off. Of course, finding the original paperwork and calculator is now replaced with remembering the password selected to log onto the program. There are usually numbers or email addresses for contacting someone about any problems with using these tax filing web sites.
Another advantage of using a program online is that the actual filing can also be done with a few clicks of a mouse. Submitting a return no longer involves getting a neat copy of a return done, finding an envelope and attaching a stamp.
Instead, a tax filer adds their signature electronically and hits “submit.” The process of either the federal or state government accepting the return may take a day or two, so it’s best not to wait until the last minute (the translation being that even though filing electronically makes preparing your tax faster, you still should not wait until 5 p.m. on April 15).
In most cases, filing your tax returns online is free. The actual cost is incurred with the filing. Because of that, it’s important to have a credit or debit card handy to enter account information. Along with a card, there are still some things that a taxpayer is required to have ready for entry into the program:
- All W2 forms from current employers or those in the previous year;
- Receipts for deductions;
- Receipts or cancelled checks for gifts to charity, churches or other organizations;
- Medical receipts;
- Canceled checks for any other purchases or expenses
The bottom line is that using an online system can make preparing and filing taxes more convenient by holding the hand of a taxpayer as it walks them through the process via cyberspace.