educational

Automate Your Taxes!

Cracker

Yep, it's that time again, and whether you fill out a simple tax return or run a small business, the current generation of tax software stands ready to guide you along, letting you complete your taxes in record time with all the deductions possible. Nothing can make tax season go away, but with today's tax software, it's never been easier to prepare your taxes accurately and quickly.

Recent tax relief acts promised tons of money-saving opportunities for American taxpayers, with new tax laws not only lowering tax rates, but also providing better tax breaks for married couples, lower limits on many itemized deductions, a higher child tax credit, plus education deductions. The current generation of tax preparation software can help you to take advantage of these new tax breaks, but choosing a package can be confusing, something that I hope this article helps:

Choosing the Right Tax Package
Generally speaking, you can't go wrong with any of today's tax packages. Each of them contains a wide range of tax forms and easy-to-understand online guidance to allow you to create your tax return. But some packages offer more multimedia resources than others, including online books and video tutorials. These extras come bundled with the "deluxe" editions of tax software, such as Intuit's TurboTax Deluxe or H&R Block's Kiplinger TaxCut Deluxe. Deluxe versions of TurboTax include one free TurboTax State download and the option to file your taxes electronically. However, if you file taxes in more than one state, you'll need to purchase additional copies of a state-tax program.

If you're new to tax software or you don't file state taxes, you might want to stick with one of the more basic programs. Also, if you're running an older computer system that has restricted video or CD-ROM requirements, the standard versions probably are a better choice. Kiplinger's TaxCut Basic and Intuit's TurboTax are capable, thorough programs that offer enough basic functionality (minus the multimedia extras) for even the first-time e-filer.

To help you maximize your savings, Intuit offers TurboTax Premier, the company's most comprehensive tax software. This product includes extra features to help you claim every possible tax break, as well as plan for the future. TurboTax Premier also includes new tools for investors and rental property owners.

Tax Software for Small Businesses
Since you’re reading XBiz, it’s a safe bet that you run a small business, either separately or out of your home (In tax terms, this means that you've filed a Schedule C in the past, or you file for your sole proprietorship.) By choosing a tax-preparation package that's specifically geared to the small-business filer, you can save valuable time. Since more taxpayers work at home nowadays, several packages feature full multimedia resources aimed directly at the needs of the small-business/home-office filer.

A package such as Intuit's TurboTax Home & Business integrates detailed advice on completing Schedule C accurately for a small business, with plenty of support for declaring your home-office deductions. This title also comes bundled with several supplemental e-books, offering detailed tax advice for the small-business owner. H&R Block offers a similar package in Kiplinger's TaxCut Home & Business, which comes complete with quarterly and annual returns to help you prepare professional nonprofit, fiduciary, and trust returns right on your computer.

Intuit also offers TurboTax Business, which offers tax solutions for a corporation, S corporation, partnership, or LLC. This software also includes several assistants and online books to help you maximize your returns and minimize your chances for error.

In addition to choosing the right software package, you may want to pick up a few books to help you navigate your way through the specifics of the new tax laws. Be sure to choose fully updated books that reflect the new rules and offer tips to help you plan for future, phased-in provisions.

While nothing can beat proper tax preparation by a qualified accountant, these tax software packages can be a better alternative to trying to totally do it yourself, and serve as a valuable tool for preparing your returns, which can then be reviewed by an accountant before filing, saving you money on accountant’s fees, and minimizing your risk and liability. However you prepare your returns, be sure to play by the rules, and pay your taxes…

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