Now, if you are like me, you might feel a bit intimidated by the idea of handling complicated tax code on your own. As a small business owner, I paid the fine people at H&R Block Premium to do my taxes for years. But three years ago my epiphany came when I realized my "tax professional" was simply following the instructions on the screen. Ask her a question, and she would literally say, "we'll wait for the program to get there." Upwards of $200 to watch someone plug numbers into a program when prompted? I don't think so!
Daunting as it may seem, tax software literally walks you right through the process. Some, like the H&R BLock Online that I use, even imports your previous year's information for you--even if you used their offices previously.
There are numerous programs out there for filing online, such as TaxAct, TurboTax and H&R Block Online. The best part is that most allow you to try it for free. You can go through the entire process of preparing your taxes, and then pay when you file--so if you end up uncomfortable with the results, you are only out your time. Just go to the web site (make sure it is a reputable one) and start your journey to tax enlightenment.
There are options to buy tax filing programs on disc, but I really don't see any advantage to this for the average Joe. It costs more, and then you've got one more software box laying around your house. There are, however, distinct advantages to filing online rather than doing the old pen and paper routine. Tax code is always changing--it is nearly impossible for actual humans to keep up with it. And if you miss some new deduction, you could be left paying more than you have to. Or worse yet--miss out on a refund. (Horrors!)
Filing online is not just for your average single, works one job , no deductions guy either. Self-employed, unemployed, raising your lazy bum brother's kids? The online programs can handle it, and quite well. It really is just as simple as grabbing your forms and plugging in a few numbers when it tells you to.