Want some good news? It’s that time of year again, when the IRS settles up with us and we fill out our tax forms. For several years I have been doing my own taxes. Why? It all began after 2001, when Larry retired and our accountant passed away from cancer. Her files were purchased by another local accountant, but before we could go down to have our taxes done, another family member went down to have his taxes done, and we heard about this exchange:
Family member: “I had a 1099 G from the casino, and I asked him how it worked, in order to put my gambling expenses against the wins. He said, ‘Oh, yeah, I noticed that your folks had a few of those in the past.’ ”
And then he went along to explain the process. But I was steamed.
How dare an accountant we have never used, look through our files and then talk to anybody else about what was in there? So, needless to say, I decided to become my own accountant. And I haven’t been sorry.
Turbo Tax is the program I use; I’ve tried others, but Turbo Tax continues to be a good bargain for us. I have the real estate business, we have the farm, and we also have the personal income and retirement. And this year, Intuit has made online Quicken free for anyone, so we were able to take advantage of that, as well. It is cool, because it will log in to your bank account (you provide the details) and then will download your transactions and categorize them, and then make suggestions. You can also have other accounts, including credit card accounts and utilities, added to Quicken, and keep track of all expenses that way.
After I started doing my own taxes, then my daughter started doing hers; and I do my mother’s taxes for her. This year I noticed something interesting – so far, everyone I know is getting money back. A few of the rules have changed, and that is making a huge difference. One of my students, a married man with children, is getting $9,000 back, because of the earned income credit on his children. As a result, he is able to pay his rent, his car payments, and survive another six months or so.
My advice to anyone out there who has not yet done his or her taxes is, do it! You will probably get some money back. And you don’t have to use Turbo Tax if you want to do your own taxes. The IRS has a free web-based tax service on their site, which will allow most people to do their taxes online and file electronically.
And the State of Missouri has this page, which takes you to several options for doing taxes free, if you qualify under age specific and/or income guidelines:
There are other free sites. Just Google “file taxes free” and you will come up with several places. State tax returns are not usually free, but if you have a simple return you can file your federal free without restrictions. My suggestion is to Google your state to find out if they offer free online filing.
Online filing will get your refund to you quicker; if you owe taxes, you can also arrange for extensions online when you file. So, don’t put it off! This is one chore that can be done in a few keystrokes.