Photo credit: @julesdwit.
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Tobie Stanger, senior editor for Consumer Reports Money, discusses whether you should do your taxes yourself or hire a preparer and whether to file electronically or by paper.
Why are any of us doing this crap!
Let's enact the FairTax and never have to fill out a tax return again.
Besides, why should the federal government get to use your money (withholding) before you get to use your money?
The federal income tax system is simply the resource stream for a country club that you and I fund so Congressmen and Senators can trade favors with the people and businesses that fund their campaigns.
To close that club, we have to remove the source of funding, by eliminating the IRS and the federal income tax.
Pass the FairTax now.
I enjoy doing all sorts of things online and tried the free online forms for the past few years, which sometimes helps me find errors, but ultimately run into something that doesn't work quite right. Last year my electronic payment never went through (I've previously noticed but overlooked the input interface sometimes juxtaposes numbers) and I had to pay a penalty. Since I end up printing it out anyway, it feels more secure to getting out my checkbook once a year and splurge on the 41 cent stamp!
I've used TurboTax online for personal and (very) small business for four years. Once I used a pro, which cost me a lot more and I don't think was better. But I've found the TT state is buggy and inflexible, so I use the pdf downloads and mail them.
When I hear that a CPA got someone a huge refund -- like the one call -- I tend to call shenanigans. If you're working on a W2, it's hard to legally deduct business expenses. A lot of "business expenses" simply aren't deductible unless you're self-employed.
Brian, please stop interrupting your guest! She is losing her train of thought every time you do.
I started doing my mom's taxes when I was 14 (when she first started filing...) I have since helped a number of my friends through using the free file options online. One thing I worry about, however, is that individuals who take advantage of free file online may not catch the myriad options they have for tax breaks. Of course the EIC will be calculated automatically, but the programs won't always suggest education or housing deductions. I hope that people who qualify will also take advantage of the non-profit tax preparation programs out there, at least for a year or two to learn about the non-publicized tax breaks they might qualify for.
Can I do the standard $5700.00 deduction on the free filing options?
H&R block and the like, simply use a suped up version of turbo tax and poorly trained seasonal workers, then charge a whopping fee for the pleasure.
I am an independent contractor so I use and experienced accountant for all my deductions.
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Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
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