Do You Do Your Own Taxes?

For many years we used a tax accountant to do our taxes. We would get our paperwork together, make an appointment, and meet up at the accountant’s office. I never enjoyed paying  $300 to have our taxes done and decided I could do it myself! After all, our taxes were pretty straight forward.

Tax Preparation

Before tackling this tax job, I got all my ducks in a row.

  • I added all of our medical, dental and prescription receipts (separately).
  • Printed off last year’s google calendar and figured mileage for volunteer and medical trips.
  • Added sales tax from each and every receipt from the year.
  • Pulled out our tax folder. This is where anything related to tax goes throughout the year. Things like vehicle tab renewals, W-2’s, 1098’s, etc.

Sounds like a lot of work?! It is, and it may not be necessary to do it all. If your medical (paid out of pocket) is not 10% of your adjusted gross income, skip it!

The sales tax thing wasn’t worth the time as we didn’t have any huge purchases. I am always curious how much we spend on sales tax each year.

Jumping In To Tax Software

I logged in to TaxACT and downloaded our file from last year. I went through the process step by step but, somehow, I had entered a number wrong and the calculator didn’t move from the you owe $15,000 mark the entire time. I kept thinking it would move but it didn’t. There’s just no way that was right. I was ready to make an appointment with the tax accountant.

Before I made the phone call, I decided to check out TurboTax and entered my numbers there. Right away, I knew the 12bDD number had been entered wrong  on the other site. I continued through the process on TurboTax before correcting my mistake on TaxAct.

 

Here’s what I learned from using the two sites:

TaxACT

TaxAct

Pros

  • Gave me the option to enter miles for volunteer work.
  • Allowed me to use a table for sales tax.
  • Deluxe Version was $12.99.

Cons

  • Small print was hard to read and there were lots of words. Lots and lots of words.
  • Kept logging me out.
  • The place to enter the 12bDD amount was confusing and went to the wrong code without me realizing it. It went to ‘tips’ or something like that which is why it showed we owed $15,000.

Tax Screenshot

This is a screenshot from TaxAct (like I said, lots of words).

TurboTax

TurboTax

Pros

  • After squinting with TaxACT (yes, my eyes are not what they used to be), TurboTax was a breath of fresh air and changed my attitude pronto. The screens were super user friendly and easy to navigate.
  • It was very clear what to put where.

Cons

  • It was $34.99 for what we needed.
  • I did not see a spot to input miles for volunteer work.
  • I did not see a table for sales tax. (It’s not to say these spots were not there. I would have needed to dig further to figure out where to put these numbers.)
  • Medical was broken down into categories instead of lumped together. Lab fees, facility fees, professional fees, etc. I had taken the time to add what we actually paid for medical and broke it down between medical, prescriptions, dental and eye. Much more than that would have been a huge headache and I’m not sure it’s necessary.

Tax Screenshot

This is a screenshot from TurboTax (easy peasey to read).

My Takeaway

If I wasn’t itemizing, I would have paid the extra for the experience of TurboTax. TurboTax actually makes it a very simple and happy experience to do your own taxes.

I ended up going with TaxACT, simply because of the extra deductions I was able to take. The fact that I had already paid the $12.99 factored in as well.

The difference in refund between the two was $247. I will squint for that.

Because we actually had to pay taxes one year, many moons ago, we are okay giving the government a loan and receiving a refund. This year our refund will wipe out one of our credit card’s debt and make a dent in the other.

File Your Taxes for Free with TaxACT!

Yep! That’s an affiliate link. I’m hoping to have one for TurboTax soon too as I love their ease of use! If you use an affiliate link, How Do The Jones Do It will receive a small commission. That’s how we keep the great information rollin’! Please know that we would never, ever recommend anything that we do not truly believe in ourselves. To learn more, read our full disclaimer

Do You do your own taxes?!

What software do you use?

For many years we used a tax accountant to do our taxes. We would get our paperwork together, make an appointment, and meet up at the accountant's office. I never enjoyed paying  $300 to have our taxes done and decided I could do it myself! After all, our taxes were pretty straight forward.
14 comments… add one
  • Christina @ Embracing Simple Feb 13, 2015, 7:42 am

    We actually use TurboTax, but it sounds like TaxACT might be the way to go!

    It’s funny, a few years ago I would do my taxes as soon as I could to get a refund. Now that I do freelance work and typically always owe, I wait until the last minute to have to pay. Hah! Tax time is now my enemy.
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    • How Do The Jones Do It Feb 13, 2015, 12:13 pm

      Isn’t it funny how that happens?! I can’t wait to get taxes done so we can get that return! It’s awesome you do your own taxes even with a business!

      I can’t say TaxACT is the way to go but it was the best option for us. Love the simplicity of TurboTax!
      How Do The Jones Do It recently posted…Valentine Gift Ideas for the Frugal GirlMy Profile

  • Cynthia Feb 13, 2015, 7:01 pm

    Tax time again, I’ve used FREETAXUSA, for about the past 4 years. They charge for state, but Federal is usually free.
    Cynthia recently posted…Antibiotic (MIS)Use Destroying US Food SupplyMy Profile

  • 1MansMoney Feb 13, 2015, 7:19 pm

    We’ve been using a tax accountant the past 3 years and, for us, it’s worth the $300. He explains all of the write offs for my wife’s job to help us minimize the taxes we owe. We also appreciate the tax advise that he gives us for the upcoming year. It helps us get ahead of the curve.

    • How Do The Jones Do It Feb 13, 2015, 7:52 pm

      Those sound like great reasons to shell out the $300! If our finances were to get more complicated, we would probably go back to an accountant too. For now, we are super streamlined!

  • kay ~ lifestylevoices.com Feb 14, 2015, 2:58 pm

    We’ve always used the H&R Block software, but I’m willing to try something new. 2014 taxes. Let us pray. 🙂
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    • How Do The Jones Do It Feb 15, 2015, 12:06 pm

      Lol! Good luck with those taxes Kay! I have never tried H&R Block. Maybe I should triple check myself next year;0)

  • Lauren Feb 16, 2015, 1:12 pm

    We did our taxes with H&R Block software. It was a breeze, however I think the software costs $50 for the version we use. We bought it when they were running a special so we ended up not having to pay the full amount. Well worth it, as we were done in a few hours and had our refund a week later! Maybe we’ll check out a new program next year and see where the best deal is.
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    • How Do The Jones Do It Feb 16, 2015, 10:38 pm

      Okay, so trying to figure out the difference between purchasing software and doing taxes online. That may sound really silly but I’m new to all of this and I’ve been seeing TurboTax and TaxACT in stores for $40 – $50. You can file free online so I’m wondering what the advantage is.

      Sounds like you had a super quick turn around! That’s awesome!

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies Feb 16, 2015, 2:13 pm

    Yes and no. I have an S-corp because my company can only hire me as a contract worker. I tried to do my own taxes one year, based on the ones I’d paid for the year before. I think I got it right, but it was a huge headache and nerve-wracking.

    So I found a reasonably priced CPA. I organize all my numbers clearly, and I try to categorize them based on the various categories in the forms. Not including filing fees, I generally pay around $100-150.

    But our taxes? I can deal with that. We even have some rental income from the in-laws in the guest house, but there are depreciation calculators online. And places like TaxAct will do federal forms for free. Just plug in the numbers and voila!
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…In praise of an ordinary lifeMy Profile

    • How Do The Jones Do It Feb 16, 2015, 10:32 pm

      It’s great to hear how easy it is to do your own taxes with a rental! I would be a little intimidated with the S-Corp but it sounds like you found a great deal! I love hearing your perspective. Thank you for stopping by!

  • Jason @ Phroogal Feb 17, 2015, 6:35 pm

    I’ve used TurboTax for years and started looking at some alternative methods and Tax Act was one of them. What I like about TurboTax is the ease of use as you mentioned.
    Jason @ Phroogal recently posted…Why is investing important?My Profile

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