Money Guide Tax Preparation Software Great Ideas Collection
If you fill out your own tax returns, you have two basic alternatives:
  • Complete the forms by hand.
  • Use a computer, either by buying a software package or by using one of the online tax programs.
The chief advantage of using a compuer is that it should help you avoid arithmetic errors, but there can be other advantages:
  • access to all the forms you need, including obscure ones
  • tax guidance, sometimes in the form of video presentations
  • the ability to automatically import last year's information and information from your personal budgeting program (e.g., Quicken)
  • the ability to transfer federal information to your state tax form at the push of a button
  • electronic filing that provides a secure Internet connection for submiting your return for faster processing and without the worry of your paper return being mishandled in the mail.
The principal downsides are:
  • the cost of the program
  • the investment of time needed to learn the tax program
  • the fact that flipping from page to page to compare sections of your return can be easier with paper
  • inaccuracies in the program
Some firms offer free tax preparation through their websites that save you the expense and bother of acquiring and installing a new program. If you opt for one of these, make sure you fully understand what is and is not free.

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Topic contents Mark Kolakowski and CliqueFriends, LLC, 2004
Discount Brokers
Full Service Brokers
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Choosing a Preparer
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Tax Software