It’s a New Year, and time to start thinking about your income taxes again! Yes, for some the task can be quite daunting, but there’s no need to panic. There are so many options out there for people to do their taxes now. There are programs for your computer, there are paid preparers, and for those old school types, there are still paper forms. If you have a computer, printer and internet, you are set as long as you meet the income maximums, you can file for free online. Even if you have your own small business, you can still file for free online. There are some income limits, but for many average tax payers, the service is still free! But who would have thought that the internet could save you money on your tax preparation this year? Is it possible? The answer for many is “Yes, it can!” You don’t even have to have internet service to save money with the internet. The best part is, the IRS will guide you right to the correct program to do your taxes for free and all you have to do is answer a few simple questions about your filing status and income amount.
First, for those internet challenged people without a home computer and internet access, check with your local library. Most public libraries now have computers with internet access for people to use. If they don’t, ask a family member or friend if you could use their computer to create an e-mail account, and do your taxes.
When doing your taxes online, there are a few things you will need.
A working e-mail account.
All of your W-2’s and 1099 forms you received from employers and banks and information on any income you had during the tax year.
A pen and paper, and a calculator, just in case you need to check anything.
Plenty of paper in the printer.
A folder or envelope to put your finished tax return in.
Be sure to have any receipts or have the dollar amount you spent on energy saving items for your home.
The IRS free file will begin accepting tax returns on January 15, 2010. When you have everything ready, go to www.irs.gov and look for the “Free file” icon on the right side of the screen. A simple click on that, follow the instructions, and the IRS will guide you to the (or a list of) companies that have partnered with the IRS to provide free federal tax preparation and filing that fit your needs. The best part of these programs is that you are not limited to filing the simple 1040; these programs are designed to walk you through a series of questions to pick out the forms it will file for you. These questions include itemized deductions, small business and farm income, self employment taxes, social security income. They also look for all deductions and credits you qualify for automatically, and don’t rely on you to know what you may or may not qualify. These programs are essentially dummy proof!
On to your state taxes! Some of these programs will offer to prepare and submit your state income taxes for free, and some charge a small fee for the service. You are not required to use the program to do your state taxes. Many states are offering free filing of your state returns through their revenue sites. If you aren’t sure how or where to find your state revenue site, do a simple search through your favorite search provider for “state of (your state) department of revenue” or “(your state) income taxes” and you should be able to find what you need to do your state taxes. It’s all pretty simple and straightforward. It’s all very secure, and the best part, you can have your refund sent straight to your bank account, and will have your refund in as little as 7-10 days. Sure it’s not “Next Day” like some of the as you will see on television, but you also aren’t giving paid preparers part of your refund to do something you could do yourself for free! Some of these paid preparers that are advertising that they will file your taxes for free online, were already doing this as part of their “refund anticipation loan.” What you should know is that some of these “loans” are in the form of a debit card. Doing your taxes yourself online gives you the option of either direct deposit, or paper check. Be prepared though, if you still request the paper check, it will take a little longer to receive your refund.