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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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  • 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 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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @01:02PM (#46758325)

    It's not just a claim, it's the truth. It may be legalized theft but it is theft nonetheless. You may currently like paying your taxes and consider it voluntary and see it as a good thing, but rest assured, were you to stop paying you would be breaking the law and be fined and/or go to jail.

    Also, ends don't justify means.

  • by WhiplashII (542766) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @01:23PM (#46758661) Homepage Journal

    I would believe what you said if two facts were not true:

    1) The majority of taxes are used to take money from one class of people, and give it to another.

    2) We live in a democracy where more than half the people are "takers" rather than "givers"

    I wouldn't be upset if "givers" voted to make transfer payments. That wouldn't be theft.

    I wouldn't be upset if "takers" voted to not have transfer payments. That wouldn't be theft either.

    But when takers gang up and vote to steal money from a smaller group under threat of violence, that is simply government condoned theft.

    The government doesn't invest in the future. They merely pay their friends rents.

    [https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0539.pdf]
    [http://taxfoundation.org/article_ns/summary-2009-federal-individual-income-tax-data]
    [http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/rural-economy-population/rural-poverty-well-being/transfer-payments.aspx#.U01rPcegGOE]

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

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