How To Do Your Taxes Online

As we enter tax season, it’s impossible not to hear about online filing. More programs and websites spring up every year touting the benefits of filing your taxes online: it’s cheaper than an accountant; you get your refund faster; and you can save each year’s returns to make starting next year easier. But if you’re not a big tech fan, you might be nervous about taking something as important as your taxes and doing them on a computer. What if you make a mistake? Luckily it’s not hard to do taxes online in fact, many people find it easier. Here’s what to expect.

1. You’ll need to choose a program to use. There are many out there, but there is some key functionality that all the good online tax sites offer. They should offer: step-by-step help; easy e-filing and a quick refund; and multiple package offerings based on your needs.  For example, for simple returns it’s often free.  For more complicated tax needs such as for business owners or people with retirement and investment income, pricing ranges from $20-$50.

2. Log in and get started. Doing your taxes online is remarkably similar to doing them on paper, except you also get helpful explanations at every step. Your tax program will start off asking for basic information such as your address and marital status, then move on to asking you to enter financial information. Unlike doing it on your own, there are handy explanations of every option. And, unlike hiring an accountant, you’ll get to see each stage and what affect your answers have on your taxes.

3. You should be able to see your refund grow. One of the nicest features of most tax software is you can watch your refund rise or fall as you enter different information. This makes you a more informed taxpayer and can give you an intuitive sense of how to increase future refunds. Perhaps logging all those business miles helped a lot more than making charitable contributions, for example.

4. There will be professional help available. If at any point you feel lost or stuck, there will be a help line you can turn to so your questions can be answered by a professional. For simple questions there will likely be a user forum as well, where you can ask other users for their help.

Will this be the year you do taxes online for the first time?

Hailey Andersen enjoys writing about the latest trends and regularly contributes to a variety of publications. Follow her on Twitter at: @HaileyWrites.

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