Free File Fillable Forms

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Free File Fillable Forms

Postby indexflyfisher » Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:12 pm

I have been using HR Block software for filing taxes for the last 3-4 years. This year , I decided to try TuboTax because it was cheaper through Vanguard and it seemed easier to directly enter capital losses from mutual funds. However, choosing depreciation methods was not possible in TurboTax (at least I couldn't figure it out). So, I went to the IRS site and found the "Free Fillable Forms" on their website. This is new to me. It was not available a few years ago. Anyhow, all the forms that I needed (for my properties and my own situation, don't know your situation) are available there and it is easy to just fill in the form (maybe using previous year's forms as examples, in my case). It was surprisingly easy, and the whole process took less time than either HR Block or TurboTax! I would highly recommend doing this. Check it out...

URL https://www.freefilefillableforms.com/F ... eForms.htm

Even entering the capital loss info from mutual funds was easy. I have not yet filled out the Depreciation form 4562, but I don't think it is a big deal. I then think you can e-file after filling them out. We already paid taxes for them to make the free file available, why not use it? Seems very Bogleheadish to me. Anyone else using this?
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Postby jasonp99 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:35 am

Yup, this was my 2nd year doing the Free Fillable forms, no issues. I first do my taxes in an Excel spreadsheet (excel1040.com), then double-check those results with the free Turbo Tax online stuff (just don't print or e-file). If all checks out then I fill out the IRS free forms. Usually just takes one evening to do all this.
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Postby verbose » Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:50 am

I've used them twice now. I used to do paper returns because I didn't want to pay for tax software. There were some bugs in the forms the first year, but this year they worked fine.
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Postby indexflyfisher » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:40 am

jasonp99, I went to excel1040.com but got nothing. Does this still exist for 2010? Thanks for the tips.
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Postby Parthenon » Sat Mar 20, 2010 11:51 am

indexflyfisher wrote:jasonp99, I went to excel1040.com but got nothing. Does this still exist for 2010? Thanks for the tips.


You must type in the entire address: www.excel1040.com

Ed
"What am I gonna do if I run out of money?"
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Postby indexflyfisher » Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:04 pm

Oh yeah, Thanks!
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Postby djw » Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:44 pm

I've used the IRS fillable forms for several years now and I like them too.

It's more flexible and I don't want to cause hundreds of twenty-somethings and little old ladies who need to earn money working for the IRS keypunching our tax returns to lose their jobs because of me... (just kidding, I know they probably use an optical-character-reading scanner).

As a general rule, I never do something the easy way if I can find a slower, more time-consuming, hands-on, brain-challenging way to do the same thing. That's just how I roll. I don't like using cruise control either.

The once lesson I learned the hard way the first year is to begin by saving all of the blank forms you think you'll need to your hard drive BEFORE you start filling them out. Unless things have changed since then, if you wait to hit the SAVE button until AFTER you've typed in lots of info, all of it will be lost.

This is the kind of mistake you only have to make once before it gets firmly implanted into your your psyche, kind of like touching a hot stove the first time...
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Postby dcnut » Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:51 pm

I have been using the free fillable forms for several years. In early February I download the needed forms (even for the trusts I manage), and then print them out. I fill-out the printed forms with pen or pencil and have wife check all the figures. Then, in early-to-mid March, I enter the data on the computer using the fillable forms.

One of these years (I hope) Acrobat Reader might support intelligent form entry that could be utilized by the IRS. Many of the lines on IRS forms simply ask you to enter the contents of another line, or to enter the lesser of line x or line y, or to enter the sum of lines x, y, and z. With this feature, entering the data on many forms would be even easier than it is now.

Glenn
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Postby jasonp99 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:40 am

dcnut wrote: Many of the lines on IRS forms simply ask you to enter the contents of another line, or to enter the lesser of line x or line y, or to enter the sum of lines x, y, and z. With this feature, entering the data on many forms would be even easier than it is now.

Glenn


Simple stuff like that is usually handled by the "Calculate" feature of the Free Fillable forms.
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Postby CyberBob » Sat Apr 10, 2010 4:46 pm

Great idea, since filling in the forms directly is faster than the typical question/answer format of tax programs/websites. Bad execution, however, since it only works with Microsoft Silverlight :(

Bob
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Postby dratkinson » Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:26 pm

I really hate doing taxes. Wish is were more fun, then maybe I'd enjoy the process. That being said...

Assuming there are always unknown tax law changes (Schedule L), then the online fillable federal forms are just as incomprehensible to me as the blank paper forms, or the wonderful spreadsheets at 1040.com.

Tax software supplies the knowledge to bridge the gap between my income and the correctly filled in forms---my only goal---and is a small price to pay to avoid an annual tax law course.

But I don't blindly trust the tax software. I do double-check the output against the forms and instructions for the filled in values. In this way I did catch a big mistake in the state return one year.

So, until something better for me comes along, guess I'll keep using the tax software.
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Postby jasonp99 » Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:37 pm

dratkinson wrote:
So, until something better for me comes along, guess I'll keep using the tax software.


You can use the tax software for FREE on the web (like Turbotax, etc.). You just cannot print the forms. Once you have the data you can enter it into the Free Fillable Forms. To do that it helps to have them pre-filled out either manually on paper or using the PDF's from the IRS or the Excel spreadsheets (which print out exactly as the forms) at www.excel1040.com (site appears to be down right now though).

Cheers.
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Postby dratkinson » Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:29 am

jasonp99 wrote:
dratkinson wrote:
So, until something better for me comes along, guess I'll keep using the tax software.


You can use the tax software for FREE on the web (like Turbotax, etc.). You just cannot print the forms. Once you have the data you can enter it into the Free Fillable Forms. To do that it helps to have them pre-filled out either manually on paper or using the PDF's from the IRS or the Excel spreadsheets (which print out exactly as the forms) at www.excel1040.com (site appears to be down right now though).

Cheers.


I agree with you and I did think about doing that: use the online software, drop the numbers into the paper fed forms, mailed USPS certified receipt ($5), drop the fed numbers into free Netfile for CO and efile ($0). So $5 total for fed and state tax returns for the year. Pretty cheap. Only the tax law experts and the fillable forms can do it cheaper.

However, if I/everyone did that we could put all of the tax software companies out of business. Then where would I be? I'd be forced to do exactly what I hate more... become an annual tax law expert. Yuck!

So I see paying a tax software company ($18, TaxAct online, fed, state, free efile), a difference of only $13-18, as enlightened self-interest to encourage them to keep doing what they do, and save me from a most disagreeable task.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :)
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Postby indexflyfisher » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:20 am

Hey All,

I'm just bumping this up, because it's getting close to that season and free forms seems about as "Boglehead" as you can get (if the time isn't too much)!
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Re: Free File Fillable Forms

Postby petrico » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:00 am

indexflyfisher wrote:I'm just bumping this up, because it's getting close to that season and free forms seems about as "Boglehead" as you can get (if the time isn't too much)!

Hey indexflyfisher,

I completely agree with you, but Bogleheads seem to disagree! Now that the IRS decided to stop sending out tax return packages, I thought it might be worth trying the free fillable forms this year -- to e-file, not just to print and mail. So I sought others' experiences. Not too many people responded that they used the free fillable forms.

Becoming even more curious, I started a poll to find out what method most people use to file their taxes. Only 2% of 167 forum responders used the free fillable forms. (Most people e-file with commercial software.)

I'm strongly leaning towards using the free fillable forms this year to e-file. More than the cost of using commercial software, I'm concerned about the collection and storage of my tax return by the tax software provider, apparently required by the IRS, if I were to e-file with them. Yes, the free fillable forms are provided by a private company under contract with the IRS, but the hope is that storage of the data would be more tightly controlled under that arrangement.

Question for you indexflyfisher: Have you ever e-filed with the free fillable forms, or did you just print and mail them? If you just print and mail them, what advantage is there in using the free fillable forms service over just downloading the free PDF forms from the IRS directly to your PC and printing them?

Thanks,
--Pete
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Postby indexflyfisher » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:22 am

Hi Petrico,

Yes, last year I e-filed with the forms. It was very easy. I didn't think much about the security issues. I guess I trust the IRS!

I found that doing the reporting losses from a complicated tax loss harvest and filing the depreciation forms for 3 rental properties turned out to be MUCH MUCH easier on the actual forms than on even the "upgraded" commercial software.

I do most of my state returns electronically too. (yes, that's plural, I file IN, CA, and NJ). This year I should be able to do them all electronically.
Last edited by indexflyfisher on Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby indexflyfisher » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:33 am

I just looked at Petrico's poll (link above). Why do Bolgeheads not use the free forms with the free e-file? It doesn't get any simpler than that, especially with those mysterious "black-box" questionnaires that the tax software seems to make you go through. The 1040 isn't that bad, or the Sch E and all the others I file.
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Postby Duckie » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:41 pm

I took a look at the free fillable forms but the site requires a plug-in that is not compatible with my computer. Oh well, paper again.
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Postby Independent » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:04 pm

jasonp99 wrote:Yup, this was my 2nd year doing the Free Fillable forms, no issues. I first do my taxes in an Excel spreadsheet (excel1040.com), then double-check those results with the free Turbo Tax online stuff (just don't print or e-file). If all checks out then I fill out the IRS free forms. Usually just takes one evening to do all this.


I use this method. Works fine.
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