Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #284 2/25/2015

Question: Can I do my taxes on my computer?


Yes, you may do your taxes on the computer. I have been using computer programs to do my taxes about 20 years originally using Personal Tax Edge which was bought out by TurboTax and I have used it since.

There are two major advantages to using a computer tax preparation program. The first is the program does your math for you. This is the reason I started using the programs in the 90s. I would chronically make a carrying error doing adding or subtracting sometimes in my favor and sometimes in IRS favor. The second is that now you can file electronically and get your refund sooner. Even if you owe taxes you can get the work done quicker and then wait until April 15 to file.

Several companies make tax preparation software. TurboTax by Intuit is the most popular however this year they have changed what is included in some of the advanced editions making people have to get a different and more expensive version than before. Their PR on this change has been poor and now they have come up with several solutions to reduce cost but have not communicated well. H & R Block also makes tax preparation software which has gained in popularity. TaxAct has been making programs several years but no one has told me they use it.

This year Turbo Tax is offering a really good deal for those who have very simple returns such as doing 1040EX and most 1040A. You can go online to www.turbotax.com and choose the free version and if you qualify do your federal and state returns and efile them for nothing, no cost. TurboTax says this is a marketing move as their hope is you will stay their customer when you no longer qualify for free. I have shown several people this and it was easy to do.

With tax preparation software the federal return is always included, sometimes a free efile for it. The state return may or may not be included for free and if you need to file in several states you will have to buy the additional states.

The nice parts on doing your taxes with tax preparation software is it will remember you year to year and have your basic information and will also check if you have filed everything based on last year. Also if you have to do an amended return it is easy to do via the software.