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Government The Almighty Buck United States

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes? 386

Posted by timothy
from the what-you're-billed-and-what-you-owe-aren't-identical dept.
April 15, 2014 isn't just a full moon: it's Tax Day in the U.S. That means most American adults have already submitted a tax return, or an extension request, to the IRS and -- except for a few lucky states -- to their state governments as well. I filed my (very simple) tax return online. After scanning the free options, since I live in a state -- Texas -- that does not collect personal income tax, I chose Tax Act's free services. That meant enduring a series of annoying upgrade plugs throughout the process, but I could live with that; I have no reason to think it was better or worse than TurboTax or any of the other e-Filing companies, but I liked Tax Act’s interface, and it seemed less skeevy in all those upgrade plugs than the others I glanced at. The actual process took an hour and 19 minutes once I sat down with the papers I needed. My financial life is pretty simple, though: I didn't buy or sell a house, didn't buy or sell stocks outside of a retirement account mutual fund, and didn't move from one state to another. How do you do your taxes? Do you have an argument for one or another of the online services, or any cautionary tales? Do you prefer to send in forms on paper? Do you hire an accountant? (And for readers outside the U.S., it's always interesting to hear how taxes work in other countries, too. Are there elements of the U.S. system you'd prefer, or that you're glad you don't need to deal with?)
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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

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  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:55AM (#46756603)
    actually, my taxes do me.
    • I use both ufile.ca ($10-15) and studiotax (free). I find ufile more user friendly, and you only have to pay if you want to netfile. So what I do is fill out in both ufile and studio tax and make sure the numbers are the same, if not I look to see what I did differently and which one is wrong, once they both add up to the same, I submit through studiotax so I don't have to pay.
  • base it around my OS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:56AM (#46756607) Homepage
    HRblock.com makes pretty quick work of taxes, and it works seamlessly in aurora in Gentoo linux. The only downside is the constant upsell. at some point you're clicking quickly because you just want to get shit done and accidentally upgrade yourself to a $120 tax package. After that, you literally cannot back out or restart.
    • by Orestesx (629343)
      I second HRBlock online. It keeps getting better every year. It saves all your old returns, and automatically signs your return with your previous years AGI. It's really very good.
    • For the first time in several years I haven't changed states, jobs, or marital status, so I was excited to do my own taxes*. I was used to getting a hefty refund though, so when I used hrblock.com and it showed a (small) debt I thought I'd go in for service figuring I had missed something. Turns out I am just about even in my witholdings, so I payed someone at H&R a good hundred bucks just to give me the exact same information. Sad day, but a lesson learned for next year I guess.

      * Uh, excited relative
    • . . . at some point you're clicking quickly because you just want to get shit done and accidentally upgrade yourself to a $120 tax package. After that, you literally cannot back out or restart.

      You can, but it requires human intervention from customer service and takes a few hours. Obviously, this would be a problem if it happened at the last minute

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @10:56AM (#46756611)

    ...it should probably be "How Do You File Your Taxes?", as the content has nothing to do with how taxes are paid, really.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:02AM (#46756675) Journal
    I tried to efile a few years ago and discovered someone had already submitted a tax return under my SSN. So I had to send in all my tax forms and all my proof of identity in paper, along with a statement of fraud or something of the sort. And I had to file paper again the next year since my SSN was blocked from efiling due to the fraud alert.

    Finally got the ability to file normally again last year. We don't qualify for the free tax software any more, unfortunately. I think we used the paid version of Turbo Tax.
    • Try Tax Act. The free version will nag you to upgrade, but you don't have to, and they no longer put income limits on the efiling.

      Limits were always one of the many stupid things the IRS did. The IRS wants everyone to efile, not send in paper, becuase it saves them money. Then they try to charge extra for efiling, which drove people to file paper. Also heard that the chances of being audited are lower for paper filings, another reason not to efile. I didn't know about being forced to go with paper t

  • Tax Act vs Turbo Tax (Score:4, Informative)

    by Gim Tom (716904) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:02AM (#46756685)
    I have used Tax Act since changing from Turbo Tax when they tried to push a DRM version on us. This was a long time ago. I probably would not have changed except for that, but since then I have not looked back. With Tax Act I always buy the Deluxe Download for both my State and Federal taxes and that gives me a free e-file and unlimited paper filings. Over the years it has served me and my late wife well through the passing of both her parents and preparing their final returns and also my Father's passing and the issues with inheritance and estates. My tax preparation over the years has ranged from very simple to far more complex than I would ever have imagined and I have had to contact the Tax Act support via email on both technical issues of HOW to do something also Tax issues of WHAT I needed to do. I have always gotten very helpful and prompt responses and this year was no exception. Although I am moving more and more to Linux I am GOING to keep at least one Windows machine around just to run Tax Act if nothing else!
    • by Shados (741919)

      The web interfaces that several tax tools have been moving to kind of solve the problem of the operating system. I never used Tax Act, but I don't think I could ever get myself to download a tool to do my taxes.

    • by jaymz666 (34050)

      I also use Tax Act, and get the Deluxe version, however it always charges me to file the state return. Do you have to pay to file your state return?

    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:28AM (#46757031)

      Although I am moving more and more to Linux I am GOING to keep at least one Windows machine around just to run Tax Act if nothing else!

      Tax Cut (H&R Block) online works with Linux browsers. Turbo Tax online complains but works anyway. And Tax Act online at least let me start without any warnings. There really seems to be little difference in the online versions of these services vs the installable Windows program, FWIW to you. I replaced my Mom's XP with Ubuntu and switched her over from Turbo Tax for Windows to Turbo Tax Online. Except for the (apparently bogus) warning when first starting, it worked fine, and she didn't really notice a difference in the experience from last year.

      The paranoid might be concerned about filling out their taxes online, but the truly paranoid would note that an installable program could just as easily "phone home" with your tax info, anyway.

      • Just to push another free online alternative, i've been using FreeTaxUSA.com for several years. They'll file your federal taxes for free, but charge a fairly small fee to file your state as well. (I believe it was about $10 the last time i paid, but may have gone up since then.)

        I used to pay that small fee, but then last year(?) CA started their free efile thing, so now i do my CA taxes for free via the CA website, and my Fed taxes for free via the FreeTaxUSA site. If more and more states start pushing th
    • Turbo Tax's DRM stunt also got me to switch - in my case to Tax Cut (now called H&R Block At Home). It moved easily with me from Windows to OSX, and for the last few years it's pretty simple to type "H&R Block coupon" into Google, follow a link, and download the software I need for ~30% off their list price. It's been able to handle both our taxes and those of the grandparents we were responsible for, even as our needs have grown to now include a home business, various types of stock transactions

  • BItCOIN! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:03AM (#46756691) Homepage

    Suck it tax man, Accept my bitcoins!

  • by fantomas (94850) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:03AM (#46756701)

    The majority of people in the UK who work for an employer (rather than self-employed), and don't have other income to declare (e.g. part time self-employed in their own hobby business, renting out a property, or rich enough to be generating significant income from investments or savings) don't fill in tax returns, it is managed by their employer through Pay-As-You-Earn [wikipedia.org]. As wikipedia says "because the tax code reflects other income (including the state pension), the PAYE system typically results in the correct amount of tax being paid on all the income of a taxpayer, making a tax return redundant".

    Let the flamewar begin :-)

    • by Shados (741919)

      Of course the US tax code is like, what, the second most complicated in the world or something? (I think Germany has it worse?), which is a problem in itself.

      That said, what you describe definately seems like it would work quite well for people who just work for an employer, as you mentioned.

      But here at least, the amount of people who are either self employed, do free lance on the side, or have some kind of investments, is a pretty damn large portion (on top of my head I actually don't know a single person

      • But here at least, the amount of people who are either self employed, do free lance on the side, or have some kind of investments, is a pretty damn large portion

        But at least with the UK system, the bulk of your tax is already covered. I used to submit a self-assessment return online here as I bought/sold shares and had a second job writing magazine articles. I just had o add the details plus expenses I was claiming to offset these, online and the system works out what you have to pay (and takes into account

        • by Shados (741919)

          Right, so it only really save the step of retreiving your W-2 in the US (where you just type your personal info, it pulls data from your job and does all the math for you....then you add investment info and whatsnot).

          So it saves you one step, and the easiest one. No arguing that its better...but it doesn't add much (the main issue in the US is the tax code is too complex and downright retarded...the tools to handle it actually work fine)

    • Same in the Netherlands, with the addition that the tax office will receive from your banks and employer complete financial data on your wages, taxes withheld, bank balances, mortgage payments, assets, and debts. These days they send you a tax return with all the relevant data already filled in; all you have to do is add any additional income they don't know about (not applicable to most people), or any additional expenses that are tax deductible (medical bills & such). For most people that means a qu
    • by Bazman (4849)

      Don't forget the 20% Pay-As-You-Spend as well (aka VAT), and the £2-per week tax on stupidity, aka the Lottery.

    • by CubicleZombie (2590497) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:59AM (#46757483)

      People should have to see their tax burden all in one sheet. Really, we should all have to write a check or use cash to pay our taxes.

      It should hurt. The more it hurts, the more likely people will vote for politicians who can control spending.

      Most people have no idea how much they pay in taxes.

      • "Most people have no idea how much they pay in taxes." proof?

        Even though I don't write a check, my tax software it kind enough to provide me exactly how much I paid in taxes, so that I can easily calculate my EffeciveTaxRate (19%)

        • by Beer_Smurf (700116) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @12:22PM (#46757739) Homepage
          What software do you use that adds up all your sales tax, property tax, fuel tax, and all the other taxes plus the fees that are passed on to you that are hidden in the costs of the goods and services you consume?
        • Federal Income Tax = 15%. And that included a special one-time deal. Otherwise it would be 12%. Standard deductions and credits. Nothing special.

          And I am close to the top 10% of income. I still can't figure out why everyone complains so much about taxes. I find it quite fair.

          I didn't include state because that is wildly variable from TX to NY to MT.
          • by riverat1 (1048260)

            I still can't figure out why everyone complains so much about taxes.

            It's mostly because politicians tell them they're taxed too much and should complain. It has nothing to do with actual tax rates, just a way to make political hay that sounds good to a lot of low information voters.

  • Overseas comment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeathToBill (601486) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:04AM (#46756705) Journal

    I like the UK system - if you're an employee and you're happy with the tax your employer has withheld on your behalf, you don't have to do anything. You get a statement at the end of the year telling you how much you've been paid and how much tax has been withheld - if you think they've got it wrong, or you want to claim deductions, you file a tax return saying so.

    • I like the UK system - if you're an employee and you're happy with the tax your employer has withheld on your behalf, you don't have to do anything. You get a statement at the end of the year telling you how much you've been paid and how much tax has been withheld - if you think they've got it wrong, or you want to claim deductions, you file a tax return saying so.

      We could do this in the US. By could I mean, if we changed tax regulations -- the system is mostly in place already. Wage income is deducted "pay-as-you-go" here, too. All of my interest, dividends and gains were already reported (but not deducted) by the entities that paid them. The IRS could have just sent me a bill for that with what they already know. Most of the data I put on my 1040 is redundant for the IRS. The biggest impediment -- other than changing the law -- would be that not claiming all your

  • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:05AM (#46756717)
    Not an ideal solution, but it has served me pretty well. My taxes have been varying levels of complexity over the years and I liked having the same UI for handling a variety of needs. Free would be nice of course, but I consider the cost of the package (compared to the amount of money involved) worth it for the convenience.
    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Same here... I use hte $50 version, fed taxes only (Florida has no state income tax). Worth every penny, and since I've been using it every year for the past 6 or so it imports my prior returns and uses them as a starting point. Handles investments (stocks), mortagage interest,etc. and lets me efile. Works great in Firefox on Mint (and Ubuntu and Debian before that).

    • TurboTax. You get to keep a history and I've had to call their line for consultation once. I was pleased with how it all went. Their online FAQ forum was pretty useful in fact.

      To each his own, but if your tax situation is really complicated, perhaps you're living a life beyond your pay grade? Or perhaps we should go with a fair tax system. It's way too bloated and complex as it is. If I was forced to do this on my own with nothing but paper and instructions from provided PDFs via IRS website, no doubt it wo

  • by Shados (741919) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:07AM (#46756739)

    Filing taxes is annoying enough, and even the "premium" options are just not that expensive for anyone in our field with a job (if you're not in that category, its a different story, obviously), that it just doesn't matter.

    I do have a condo I just bought, I'm married, and I do have stocks, but using the appropriate TurboTax option, I basically just punch in some information, and it retrieves my W-2s and tax papers. Punching in the real estate data takes 5 minutes. So all in all, about 45 minutes for both people and forget about it.

    Only annoyance was that the e-filling for stocks wasn't available for like, a month after I tried to file, so I had to wait a bit to submit the whole thing, but considering the amount the IRS wants from me, I wasn't in any particular hurry.

  • In Switzerland (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krouic (460022) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:08AM (#46756753)

    Here in Switzerland, canton Vaud, Tax Day was March 15. It is quite easy : you download a Java app from the government Web site. It works on Windows, Mac or Linux. You can open last year's return to prefill the relevant information, then you are guided through the application as to which fields you need to fill. When done, the electronic form is sent back, encrypted, to the government. In many cases, you do not need to join any other justification document, but they may ask you for them later. Usually, you do not need to send your salary statement either because your employer is required to send it directly to the government so they already have it.

    • Here in Switzerland, canton Vaud, Tax Day was March 15. It is quite easy : you download a Java app from the government Web site.

      I don't want a Java app anywhere near my financial information.

  • I do it old school, pen on paper.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:10AM (#46756793)
    If you just have one or two W2s and 1099 I find paper to be the easiest. I tried the eFile system and it requires you to type in all the codes on the W2s which is torture. 45 minutes and I'm done.
    • If you just have one or two W2s and 1099 I find paper to be the easiest. I tried the eFile system and it requires you to type in all the codes on the W2s which is torture. 45 minutes and I'm done.

      I guess it depends on your employer. The current tax programs will let you type in some serial number from your W2 and it will connect to some repository and download all of the W2 fields so all you have to do is eyeball the results when they're done to make sure it looks right. But I guess your employer has to opt into said service.

      Personally I like the way some of the apps (like TurboTax) phrase the descriptions when asking about deductions. My living situation seems to change every 2 years so every ye

    • by pavon (30274)

      Same here. I tried TurboTax one year and it didn't save me any money, didn't really save me any time, and had annoying DRM. You have to research what you can deduct on your own anyway in advance anyway so you can preserve documentation throughout the year, and that is the time consuming part. So paying money just to have software fill out and submit the form doesn't seem worth it for me.

  • I mostly use H&R Block. Usually cost between $100-$200 but they do it quicker than I could and (I hope) are less likely to make mistakes.

    This year, however, we went with Turbo Tax Online because that's what my wife wanted to do.

    • H&R Block maybe more convenient, but YOU are still on the hook if they screw up somewhere. That's the law. With Turbo Tax and apps like it, you are still on the hook, but at least you have chance to go over it with a fine toothed comb before hitting the submit button. And BTW, Turbo Tax will catch any mistakes or discrepancies for you and alert you to the fact. It won't however catch any extra source of income or life changing events that you haven't already entered in.

  • Live in Texas, pretty simple tax return. I've always used TurboTax online and never had any complaints. I think I chose the $30 option.
  • by DERoss (1919496) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:13AM (#46756823)

    U.S. and California

    I have a degree in mathematics. Tax returns and their computations are merely a simple mathematical puzzle, which I easily solve.

    I created two spreadsheets, one for federal income taxes and one for state income taxes. The latter is linked to the former because much of the California computations require inputs from the federal forms. Each year, I copy the prior year's spreadsheets into a new folder. I download the fill-in PDF forms for both governments and update the spreadsheets accordingly. I mark in yellow the spreadsheet cells that require new inputs; as I input those data, I remove the yellow.

    California provides a Web site where I input my taxable income and filing status. The Web site tells me how much tax to pay. I wish the IRS would do the same. However, it is much easier to input into the IRS PDF files than into the California PDF files.

    Since I have a large investment in a mutual fund, I can also get Turbotax for free. I download it and use it to check my spreadsheet results. I don't really like Turbotax because it requires too much irrelevant input and because it does not provide adequate capability to include explanatory attachments.

    I print the PDFs and mail them via U.S. Postal Service. I never request certified or registered mail. I mailed my first tax returns when I was 16 years old. I am now 72. I have never had a mailed return go astray.

    • by jratcliffe (208809) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:16AM (#46756865)

      "Tax returns and their computations are merely a simple mathematical puzzle, which I easily solve."

      None of the operations are very complex (add, subtract, multiply, divide), but knowing which numbers to perform those computations on, is sometimes far from simple. Get some K-1 income at some point, and see if you think taxes are still a "simple" puzzle.

  • Why... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:14AM (#46756839)

    Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

    I PAY my taxes with Bitcoins OBVIOUSLY!

    How do you do your taxes?

    I use TurboTax every year and have never been disappointed. One year I decided to try HR Block since they are stalwarts in the tax filing industry (Why does tax filing need an industry?) and I was mortified at the lack of professionalism from their online and support staff. They cost me extra money and wouldn't assist me in correcting the error they caused. The tax "professional" assisting me couldn't even understand the simple concept of adult dependent attending college which I'm pretty sure is a common deduction. Their 2014 ad campaign (Get your billion back) infuriates me.

  • Grudgingly (Score:4, Funny)

    by bickerdyke (670000) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:14AM (#46756847)

    Grudgingly. I guess that's international.

  • by PseudonymousCoward (161283) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:15AM (#46756849)

    I downloaded the workbook at excel1040.com, as I have for several years. I used a free version of TurboTax to validate the results. Once I was satisfied that I had entered everything correctly, I printed the relevant forms and hand-transcribed them to the IRS official forms. I mailed the paper forms yesterday. I try to print neatly, so that the poor transcribers (practically minimum-wage) at IRS can read the forms. In order to buy a version of TurboTax that would handle my federal and state returns, they wanted $140. I can't stand the thought of paying for the 'privelege' of filing my tax returns.

    • by Nkwe (604125)

      In order to buy a version of TurboTax that would handle my federal and state returns, they wanted $140. I can't stand the thought of paying for the 'privelege' of filing my tax returns.

      You aren't paying for the privilege of filing your tax returns; you are paying for the time you would otherwise spend researching, preparing, and filing your taxes. Was the time you spent worth the $140? (I am not saying that it was or wasn't, but the answer should be what drives your decision on if you do your taxes by hand or not.)

      By the way, you should be able to purchase TurboTax for much less than $140. The "Home and Business" edition, which should cover the most complicated returns that an individu

      • I'm sure I could have found a cheaper price, but that is what TT showed me when I checked the cost to file the returns.

        The question of whether it's worth it is not simple. Since I don't get paid for my time outside work, it's primarily a question of values and emotions. The emotion involved in supporting such a parasitic business overwhelms any issues of cost. The question of why the tax code is so complicated involves a different set of parasites.

    • Yup, that's what I've used for the past three or four years. I just print directly from the spreadsheet, and it always works fine. I usually have to file a few extra forms, and I can download the PDFs from the IRS site. The PDFs are nice in that they let you fill in the data and then print them.

      I considered buying software this year because it was getting complicated with figuring out accounting for rental property, but I had fun figuring it out myself.

      I've set up a separate spreadsheet where I track all

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:17AM (#46756883)

    I've e-filed for the past 10 years or so with all the major tax filing brands. Very easy and convenient; plus your returns are direct deposited so much faster. The only problem I've had was a couple years ago when I'd forgotten about several deductions and had to amend my return by mail (amounted to several hundred dollars as I recall).

    My only complaint is that e-filing should be free software provided by the government and not commercial entities. Seems like that's the prerogative of the Feds, but those under a certain income bracket do get free filing and software.

    • My only complaint is that e-filing should be free software provided by the government and not commercial entities.

      That was the plan. Some years ago, the IRS thought: "Hey! It would save a lot of time and paperwork if we could get everyone to file electronically. Lets start working on that and give away the software."

      The tax preparation services caught wind of that and put an end to it. First by restricting who could originally e-file to licensed preparers (so that back in the early days e-filing could cost hundreds of dollars or more, putting out of reach of lower income folks) Eventually the IRS got pissed and had

      • by GlobalEcho (26240)

        However some states were able to implement their own systems separately...which is why sites like HR block don't offer free filing in Illinois. Illinois hosts it's own solution, on it's own website, very easy and totally free and no upsell.

        I have such complicated taxes that I need to buy a "Premier" edition of TurboTax. It comes with "free" state, but what they mean is that the computations are free but they demand serious money to e-File.

        Illinois website is so awesome that I simply use it despite the free state addin. TurboTax does the computations with almost no extra effort, so I use it for a sanity check, but there's never been a difference.

    • by japhering (564929)

      >

      My only complaint is that e-filing should be free software provided by the government and not commercial entities. Seems like that's the prerogative of the Feds, but those under a certain income bracket do get free filing and software.

      Do you really think that the Govt and in particular the IRS could ever get the software done? Look at how many millions if not billions of dollars the IRS has spent trying to upgrade their hardware ... and they still haven't managed to do it.

  • by jratcliffe (208809) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:17AM (#46756887)

    I needed an extension this year. Some tardy 1099s, an erroneous 1099-R, a K-1 (that MLP just wasn't worth the hassle), a bunch of self-employment income, and it all just snowballed. Last couple of years I've used an accountant, but done them myself as a check, and to make sure I understand what's going on. Our results have never differed by more than a couple hundred $.

    • One year I filed an extension... then completely forgot about it! Fortunately they owed me money (I had sent a check for my estimated taxes due when I filed for the extension, and it turns out I'd overpaid), so when I finally filed it a few years late I wasn't in trouble. But the only reason I ever remembered was I got a letter from the IRS saying "we never received this tax return, and if you don't file before XX-XX-XXXX any money we might owe you will be forfeit".

  • by SirAudioMan (2836381) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:18AM (#46756891)

    In Canada our tax day is April 30th...it's actually been extended this year several days due to the Heartbleed vulnerability found on the CRA's (Canada Revenue Agency is equivalent to the IRS) electronic filing servers. Yes, about 900 SIN numbers (similar to your SSN) were compromised!

    Personal income tax forms (T1) are submitted to the Federal Government which includes any provincial forms/schedules that may be needed. All employment income is reported on a T4 as submitted by employers to the CRA but more importantly to each employee used to calculate any over/underpayments. There a dozens of other T forms for different things like investment income, educations deductions, etc.

    Personally I report employment income, investment capital gains on my non-registered retirement savings, and this year some capital gains on a stock I sold to pay for tuition. I also report and deduct any retirement savings from my taxable income (RRSP's and Pension like a 401k). Generally, I have about 6-10 different papers that I need to co-ordinate before I begin to calculate things.

    I used to use Intuit's TurboTax software, then switched to the online version but always found the software/website to be somewhat hard to use and poorly laid out. This year I found out about a new alternative web tax software for Canadian Tax called SimpleTax.ca. It's designed much better, and is actually free to use, plus it's CRA Netfile certified meaning it's been checked and verified by the Government. They ask for an optional donation at the end, which I'm sure is just temporary until they build a client base.

    Normally I get a refund of anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on a number of factors such as EI, CPP and Income Tax overpayments PLUS the benefits of deducting registered retirement saving (this makes a huge difference).

    Mark

  • H&R Block online (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:18AM (#46756907)

    I used H&R Block online. Unlike Intuit's offering, it doesn't complain that I'm using Linux. (Turbo Tax seems to work anyway after ignoring the warning, though.)

    My financial life is pretty simple, though: I didn't buy or sell a house, didn't buy or sell stocks outside of a retirement account mutual fund, and didn't move from one state to another.

    Trading stocks and funds in a non-retirement account used to be a huge PITA at tax time. Good news on this year's 1040 is that you can consolidate all your capital gains (or losses) by short and long term and avoid entering a line for every single trade. This quite literally saved hours of work.

    • I used H&R Block online. Unlike Intuit's offering, it doesn't complain that I'm using Linux.

      HR Block online used to complain about Linux. For years I'd comment and send an e-mail saying the OS check wasn't really necessary.

  • by Zocalo (252965) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:19AM (#46756925) Homepage
    Some countries [wikipedia.org] don't even have personal income tax, and apart from the U.S. I don't know of any others that require their citizens pay income taxes on wages earned overseas. Admittedly several of the countries on the list are not the best places to live, but for non-USians it's perfectly possible to avoid paying income tax altogether.
  • I started with MacInTax the first year it came out, and I've used tax software on a computer ever since. I used MacInTax and TurboTax until Intuit added DRM a few years back and mishandled things. I switched to H&R Block that year. However, if H&R Block ever does something idiotic, I will switch to whichever competing product does a good job. I have not tried any online tax software, but I have friends and family who do and they like it. In general, it takes me about an hour each year to do my taxes

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:23AM (#46756963) Journal
    I think I chose 'Tax Act' based on price to e-file federal and state; but I was very displeased. Not so much by 'Tax Act', or even by the taxation(I, um, did my best to refrain from calculating how many years I'd need to buy Uncle Sam another slipped F-35 deadline, or a Literal Coffin Ship); but by the fact that I was, largely because of lobbying by Intuit and friends, paying to re-type numbers from a variety of forms the IRS already has. Seriously?

    Yeah, sure, if you have some sort of complex arrangement get thee to a tax accountant, maybe even a suitable lawyer; but this was just redundancy for its own sake: I took a W-2 and a bunch of 1099s and a few other bits and pieces, all provided by various institutions to both me and the feds, and then retyped them into another form so that they could be submitted to the feds. WTF? That wouldn't even make sense for free, much less paying.

    C'mon, IRS, just let me see what you think my return should be(you have to calculate it anyway when deciding who to audit) and I'll tell you if I have any changes or disputes. We'll both save time and trouble. How about it?
  • by coldfarnorth (799174) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:23AM (#46756965)

    I use an accountant. Thankfully, I was ahead of the game this year and got everything filed a month ago.

    But the worst part is getting the letter from the IRS saying that they'd adjusted my refund by $30 due to some minor error.

    My feelings on the matter:
    "If you knew how much money I was supposed to send in, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME IN THE &@#$ING FIRST PLACE! It could have saved everyone time, money and trouble."

  • I do my taxes and file via TurboTax. Their fee to do state taxes is outrageous, but I'm pretty lazy, and it saved me the hassle of filling out the form, buying stamps and snail-mailing my form and check.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:24AM (#46756975) Journal
    That is how I pay my taxes. But I do pay them. That is how I pay my taxes. I do not see taxation as theft, as many conservatives, libertarians claim. I see government as a long term venture capitalist, who invests in the entire next generation of America. Some of them will strike it big, and others will strike out. If I am one of the fortunate group that was able to take full advantage of the investment the government made in me, investments that protected my earning potential and my property rights, then the tax I pay is just dividend to the venture capitalist. So despite all the reluctance and the pain associated with parting with my money, I know it is the right thing to do. The government investment in the next generation depends on it. I can invest better on my children, and the government investment is creating competitors to my children. If I believed in Social Darwinism, I will fight taxes tooth and nail. But I believe human beings should rise above this level of self interest and pay the taxes. --
  • Most years, I just use the basic tax software. A few years when my taxes got complicated, I paid an accountant. For me, the few hundred dollars I paid was worth it for me not to be bothered by the IRS. Statistically they look about professionally prepared taxes less than self-prepared ones. Also the accountants always know about things that I can claim that I didn't know about. Each time, they were able to get me a refund.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:28AM (#46757029)

    Here in Finland, the tax department sends me a tax card which tells how much to withhold each month based on my estimated yearly earnings, which I give to my employer. I later get a prefilled tax return based on my real earnings, which details any extra to be paid or returned. I check it, and if it's okay, I need do nothing.

    A more cynical person might think a system where the market for tax apps or accountants for the average person exists is intentionally designed to make paying taxes difficult and aggravating.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Ah yes. The two line tax form.

      1. How much did you earn las year? _________
      2. Send it to us.

  • by CMYKjunkie (1594319) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:33AM (#46757105)
    I can luckily use a family member who is an accountant. She charges us a flat $50 fee and it's worth it because in 2013 we had: two kid deductions, cashed out some (very) small investments, sold a rental property short at a horrendous loss, got a tax bill for the "forgiven" debt on the short sale, and other hijinks.

    In the press a lot has been made of the Romney's and Obama's "effective" tax rate: that is, "Adjusted Gross Income/Total Tax = Effective tax rate". Romney's was something like 14.1% and Obama's was 20.4%. Populist rage ensued over both "not paying their fair share." I felt that same rage but then looked: my effective rate was 9.53%!!!! That sure surprised me.

    So /.ers: look at your effective tax rate - are you higher or lower than these "greedy bastards"?

    • CORRECTION: Effective rate would be "Total Tax/AGI = Effective rate" which gives me (a lowly common citizen) 10.5%.
  • Twice. (Score:5, Informative)

    by BabaChazz (917957) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:34AM (#46757109)

    Annoyingly, I found out a couple of years ago that despite being a Canadian citizen and filing Canadian taxes every year, the US still considers me a US citizen for tax purposes, and so I have to file US taxes as well. Particularly annoyingly, one of the Canadian tax-deferral vehicles, the TFSA, is not recognized by the US, so I have this big complicated additional form to fill out for something it calls a trust. Plus I am CEO of a company I partly own (my consulting business), so I have to file financial paperwork for that as well. I hire an accountant, it's the only way to make sense of it all, and the US idiocy means that I'm out of pocket an additional $400 every year.

  • by sjwt (161428) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:38AM (#46757175)

    Ok, so what the hell!

    A simle tax return hear in Australia done online with the free govermnt sofware ( http://www.ato.gov.au/Individu... [ato.gov.au] ) takes a lot less then that, hell it even data matches your taxfile number and pre fills feilds for you to check, hell it picks up tax decatiable medical expsense that i didnt even relise I coudl of claimed! Add in your work mileage and year type of car, how many uniforms washes you do a year etc.. and your filled and done extremely quickly, and you get faster processing due to online submission.

    Done in 1/2 hour, and it tells you how much you are getting back or own then and their as a damm close estimate. You guys have to pay cash for programs for your tax? Sounds like your government really is screwing you, Can you even claim that back on your tax, tax based expenses??

  • When I was younger and unmarried, I always did my taxes myself. For the first few years of married life, I did them as well. Even after buying the house and having the first kid I still did them -- me, TurboTax and a lot of frustration. Then came The Year Of The Thick IRS Envelope. Usually when you get a job offer or accepted to college, the thick envelope means "winning". Not so when you get a thick envelope from the IRS. That generally means Something Is Wrong. What came to pass was that my wife's employe

  • Not having a "real" platform, I used the web version of TaxACT. It was half the price of TaxCut to TurboTax. Being a web app, it was alright but the interface was buggy, and the questions were awfully worded.

    I've been running Mint 115/16 for about 6 months, and other than tax filing it has been fantastic.

    Reminder: before switching someone to Linux ask about how they do their taxes first.

  • Here in Norway, the company you work for pays your taxes for you based on a personal tax card. The personal tax-card is distributed electronically from the government to every citizen based on last years income.

    When we get our tax return forms, all debts, interests, banksavings, stocks and property is already filled out. Most people only have to make small changes.

    Everything you need to change in the forms, are available online.

    If you own taxes or you've paid too much through the year, the final balace must

  • I'm an American expat. The USA requires me to file a tax return annually, even though I live, work and pay taxes in a foreign country. Because of my expat status, I have to do a paper return, at least as far as I know. I get to do the whole paperwork drill twice, once for my adopted northern-Europen country, with a 50% tax rate. And then again for the IRS, where I list everything out, deduct local taxes (50%), convert it all to US dollars (no official exchange rate given), then at to the bottom of the form

  • it's good enough for my relatively uncomplicated situation and the ability to import my last year's information helps a bunch. Also, since I've been looking at buying a house, the ability to print out my last few years W2s from the site was great vs. digging out my print copies and then then schlepping them to work to scan and email to my mortgage broker.

  • Just filed by TurboTax this year. Basically, this year has been STUPIDLY busy, and I've been working 7 days a week, and pulling an average of 12 hours a day.

    So last night it kinda occurred to me, uh, maybe I should file my taxes?

    Unfortunately I'm booked solid today. Ooops.

    Now I've had my taxes done for me for the last 25 years (basically ever since I started working as a teenager). In all that time, I've only had one tax scare (due to my employer at the time screwing up my witholdings). So, regardless of how "easy" people say it is to file for yourself, I was always terrified of filing myself.

    This time I didn't get a choice.

    Luckily it was mostly pain-free. One small goof around educational witholdings (interest on college loans). But I got it filed.
    And it's become cheaper, by far, to file this way than to have a service do it.

    Now I just have to hope nothing got screwed up.
    (I'll unclench my butt from my chair once the direct deposits go through.)

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @11:51AM (#46757371) Journal

    I used to think Turbotax was a device for chopping flat fish.

    Regardless, I use Turbotax through inertia and laziness. My taxes are a little complex - wife has a business, home office and all that malarky. I have stocks and options and RSUs and the broker never reports it correctly.

    The inertia and laziness bit comes in where TT remembers the numbers from last year and displays them next to this year's. This is a good thing because it shows you the ballpark number you're looking for. If your home office utility costs are half of last year's, you've missed something.

    The business (retail store, we live above it) tax logic is complex and TT has no clue how to handle that. You cannot throw a year of transactions are TT and have it work it out. It cannot distinguish a sale-of-goods from a class-registration-fee from an asset. Intuit would have you enter it all into Quickbooks manually (the import/export does not work, deliberately so), but QB sucks donkey balls. So the business tax logic is untangled in spreadsheets I developed.

    When I get that automated and integrated into the point-of-sale software (that I wrote in python+curses for retro/modern geek points) my life will get simpler. But this requires the bank to use a consistent format so transactions can be tallied.

  • When I filed my taxes this year, they gave me a free t-shirt when I was done. I feel like I haven't made the best decision.

  • Even though I'm a Systems Admin at a large company, I do my taxes like I do my D&D: on pen and paper. My taxes are very simple (one income, house, no stocks or other investments), and although I do use the long form for mortgage and charitable deductions it still takes me only about an hour and a half or so. I sort of enjoy doing them by hand for some reason, I guess it makes me feel I'm in total control and not at the mercy of some possibly buggy code that I can't see.

    If my situation ever gets mor
  • I've been using the H&R block off-line software for the past few years, OS X version. The main reason is because they are NOT the #1 in that market, so they won't get cocky like Turbo Tax. And I'm in Texas, so the basic basic version. You also get 5 e-files included for the price, so I got my mom to use it a couple of times.

    I get it for $15 at Fry's in January because even though they mail me a new disc every year, the amount they want to activate that online costs more than buying it at Fry's (like te

  • by Creepy (93888) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @04:44PM (#46760809) Journal

    How do I pay them? With a check to the IRS and sometimes the state (this year the state paid me $50 - woo).

    So the real question: How do I file them? With an accountant. Why? Because I own rental property and even if you can do business taxes without an accountant, you're still better off hiring one. Why? Because you can expense it to your business (i.e. write it off), and write off your personal taxes as well, as long as you follow the IRS requirement that you are only going to an accountant because of your business. The best part is I spend 1 hour doing taxes each year, and the last year I did them myself I spent over 30 hours just looking up depreciating asset schedules (with rental property, all expenses are paid over a period of time, so a 5 year depreciating asset needs to be deducted at 1/5 the cost over 5 years - I had to find some items in the massive IRS tomes for these at my local library) and about 55 hours total (investment income was about 75% of the remaining time - played the Wall Street Lotto a bit too much that year).

    Bottom line: if you own a business, hire an accountant.

  • by CODiNE (27417) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @04:45PM (#46760815) Homepage

    They require you to use their credit card payment "vendor". Yeah that word has quotes in their description, so I'm sure Turbotax owns it somehow.

    "Vender" charges 2.49% of your tax expenses just to let you pay online. So what should cost $0.25 to swipe a credit card online can be quite a lot depending on your payment.

    Bye Turbotax. Also with their lobbying shenanigans and attempts to keep the tax code complicated they've just gotten higher than Comcast on my list.

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