It's important to consider your best option for tax preparation

It's important to understand your unique tax preparation needs. Some situations can be served with a simple, perhaps free, software. Other times it is worth reaching out to a tax professional to ensure you're paying, or being refunded, the right amount. If you’re going to use tax software this year for tax filing, don’t just pick the first one that comes to mind. It might seem like they’re all the same, but they’re not. Here’s a helpful guide for selecting the best tax software this tax season.

Tax software is for…

You may consider using tax software if your finances are fairly straightforward. That means you have a W-2 and don’t need to itemize. Using tax software can also help you get a refund faster if you elect to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, not mailed as a check. Before you look into tax software, check to see if you qualify for free filing. You can check the IRS website for additional information.

Tax software isn’t for…

You may consider avoiding tax software if your tax situation is more complicated. Tax software may not be adequate or cost-effective if you fit following:

  • Different income sources
  • Multiple investments
  • Many itemized deductions
  • Real estate properties
  • Limited experience with filing

In a more complex tax scenario, or if you feel uncomfortable with the process, you should consider opting for help from a professional tax advisor.

How to Pick the Right Tax Software

Before paying for tax software, shop around. Here are some things to consider:

  • Customer Service. What do people say about the company’s customer service? You don’t want to have to jump through hoops just to get an answer about your taxes or the software.

  • Tax Forms. Make sure the software you choose offers all the tax forms that you need, both state and federal.

  • Price. While you don’t just want to automatically pick the cheapest software, it is an important factor to consider.

Do One Thing: Shop around and compare different tax software options before purchasing one.


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This (adapted) article by Chris O'Shea originally appeared on SavvyMoney blog(Opens in a new Window), and is used by permission.

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