How long does it take to do your taxes?

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Caduceus
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How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Caduceus » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:57 pm

For those of you who do your own taxes, how long do you take to do them? Include the hours spent collecting or downloading information, entering them into your own spreadsheets, entering the information on tax software, researching answers to tax problems, and finally printing and sending them off. In other words, an "all-inclusive" duration.

For those of you who don't do your own taxes, how long does it take for you to collect the information before sending it off to your CPA?

stan1
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by stan1 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:30 pm

I'm going to guess about 10 hours because I buy TurboTax in late November, enter estimates for end of year planning, and finally enter actual data as it comes in during January and February.

If I sat down in early March after I had all the forms ready to go it would probably be about 3 hours.

Louis Winthorpe III
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Louis Winthorpe III » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:35 pm

Probably about 3 hours using Turbo Tax.

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mhc
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by mhc » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:38 pm

I do my own in 2-4 hours. I use Turbo Tax online.

I stay pretty organized. Throughout the year I keep everything I need for taxes in a folder for that year. I also have a Word document with a list of all the items I need to do my taxes. Turbo Tax shows the previous year's numbers next to the current year's numbers on the summary page. This also helps me remember everything.

I don't get too hung up on getting everything perfect. If I'm in a hurry, I can do my taxes in less than two hours.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by livesoft » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:41 pm

Until October. I never do them start to finish in one setting. Right now I am collecting tax mail in an orange Gatorade plastic bag. Then when I think I have it all, probably in 4 weeks, I will plug the mail into TurboTax in an hour or so and go "Hmmmm." Then a couple weeks after that I will file for an extension and not look again until September.
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VictoriaF
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:46 pm

I do my taxes in a spreadsheet and then transfer the numbers into fillable PDF forms. Transferring the numbers and checking myself takes most of the time. When my return is similar to the previous year's return, it takes about 10 hours. I do it slowly, thinking about every step, making sure that I am not missing something important. When a year is different from the previous one, I spend a lot of time reading the IRS publications and asking questions here.

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853211
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by 853211 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:46 pm

3-4 hours, nothing too fancy, just itemized deductions.

I use tax act online because it's so much cheaper for me than turbotax; however, I run everything through TT as well to make sure they both give me the same numbers. I find TT to be much more user friendly.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by cfs » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:49 pm

Leaders, good morning/afternoon/evening

Good conversation. It takes me six to ten hours using Turbo Tax, all the information I need is on the previous year's document, I just collect everything and start plugging numbers. Done this weekend (Friday afternoon) with the exception of waiting for some documents from Vanguard to finalize the 2013 return, and one of the few good things coming out of the 2013 return is that we can max out our Roth IRAs this year without having to do any backdoor work.

Thanks for reading.
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tomd37
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by tomd37 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:05 pm

We are a retiree couple with one military pension, two SS benefit statements, three IRA distribution documents, two interest statements, and one dividend statement. We do not itemize deductions normally, but I did attempt to do so because of certain larger medical expenses and combining of two years worth of property taxes. But we ended up being short of the standard deduction by about $3K.

It took me about 30 minutes to enter all the data on the computer program I use doing volunteer tax returns in the AARP Tax-Aide and IRS VITA programs. Don't have to way about a state tax return here in Tennessee.
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Kircheis
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Kircheis » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:11 pm

It took me about 2 hours last year (about an hour to organize the information and an hour to fill up the form in Turbotax). I was able to download my W-2 and 1099's.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by mnvalue » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:30 pm

Two W-2s, mortgage and some charitable deductions, little taxable investments... I'd say taxes take me 8-10 hours in total; I could probably do it all in 4 hours if I wasn't obsessive about accuracy, electronic forms, and backups. I start by scanning all the paper forms I receive, since I'm working towards 100% electronic records for all financials. (Paper can't be backed up off-site nearly as easily.) I download all the electronic forms. Next, I enter everything in the computer once and double-check it. After that, I stop for the day. I come back another day to triple-check everything with a fine-toothed comb. Then, I e-file federal and print the state return. It's cheaper to mail paper for the state return than buy the state e-file from H&R Block At Home. Then I backup everything. Finally, I have to mail the state return.

MathWizard
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by MathWizard » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:37 pm

2-4 hours.

More if we itemize.

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pennstater2005
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by pennstater2005 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:42 pm

About an hour. I don't itemize so it's pretty straightforward. I've used Free Tax USA for almost ten years now because it is free. It files my state taxes as well for a fairly small fee.
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by scrabbler1 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:45 pm

VictoriaF wrote:I do my taxes in a spreadsheet and then transfer the numbers into fillable PDF forms. Transferring the numbers and checking myself takes most of the time. When my return is similar to the previous year's return, it takes about 10 hours. I do it slowly, thinking about every step, making sure that I am not missing something important. When a year is different from the previous one, I spend a lot of time reading the IRS publications and asking questions here.

Victoria
Similar to VictoriaF, I have a skeleton spreadsheet of my tax forms which is linked to my checkbook register spreadsheet. The time I spend working on my taxes is spread out throughout the year, starting with updating the prior year's spreadsheet to include the new tax brackets. How much total time I spend depends on how complicated my taxes are from one year to the next. Some years I can take the standard deduction, some years I have had no Schedule D. For 2013, for the first time since 1988, I will have both of those, so I can switch to Form 1040A, making my federal taxes really easy. I already have a pencil draft version of the actual form. I am retired so I have no wage income, only dividends and cap gain distributions. I already have the Cap Gains and Dividends worksheet porgrammed into the spreadsheet so that's a done deal. I figure 5 hours total for 2013 by the time everything is done.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by cheese_breath » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:46 pm

I collect all my info and record it in all Excel spreadsheet as it happens during the year, so I should have everything I need at year end. As soon as I receive my tax forms I verify what I have collected against them and enter it into Turbo Tax. I spend a lot of time reviewing and verifying the Turbo Tax returns before submitting them. I would estimate my total time for data entry and returns verification at somewhere around 6 hours, plus or minus.
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sscritic
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by sscritic » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:55 pm

I enter each bit of information as it comes in. This year I found I had questions about Form 1116, so I posted here. Did the 24 hours it take to get all the responses count as time to do my taxes? After it is all in, I go back and start at the beginning and answer all the questions. Then I let it stew for a while. Then I do it all again. Are you counting the state? I should have filed last week, but I might just have to do it all again one more time.

Total time, Dec 18, when software arrived to February 18, after the next update which I probably don't need is installed: two months.

In hours, hmm, 15 or so.

Wait, I have to print out the fed return to file with my state return, and then take a trip to the post office with the large envelope containing both returns. Five minutes drive each way and 15 minutes in line, but it saves me almost $20 not to e-file the state. Add one hour total and a bit of saliva.

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frugaltype
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by frugaltype » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:20 pm

Five to ten minutes to download and print the IRS forms.

I keep stuff organized throughout the year (a sheet with medical expenses itemized and totaled, ditto charitable, property tax, etc. and receipts stored in a manila envelope by each category, but I only need the latter if audited, since I've already put them on the summary for that category.) It only takes a minute or two at a time to update those. I also track info about if I have closed or opened any accounts.

When the end of the year rolls around, it takes 2-3 minutes to do Schedule A from the first part of that. And it takes me maybe 20 minutes to update my accounts tracking with end of year info on earnings for Sched B. and various other calculations from that that are for my own purposes.

8606 takes maybe ten minutes of number crunching. Ten minutes to do the 1040. Another five minutes to scan in the completed forms for my records.

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sans souliers
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by sans souliers » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:35 pm

Takes me one hour, about, to arrange my papers and receipts. I'm good about putting them into a folder as they arrive, either through e-mail or snail mail.

To actually answer the Turbo-Tax questions for federal and state taxes takes maybe two more hours.
I actually enjoy the process; it's like completing a series of puzzles, followed with a deposit to checking (anticipatory).

It's not "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" or anything, but it ain't bad...
Sometimes pessimism leaves me pretty well prepared for when things don't go my way, and pleasantly surprised when they do.

sscritic
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by sscritic » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:50 pm

I think you all work for the IRS with its estimates of "this form takes 15 minutes to fill out according to studies run by the Office of Management and Budget." Yah, right. On what planet?

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by littlebird » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:03 am

About 40 minutes with pencil and paper (have been doing it for 55 years). Another 1 1/2 hrs to review, re-run some calculations, over-write in ink, copy and collate and lick the envelopes.

investor1
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by investor1 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:04 am

About 1.5 hours, and that includes doing my state taxes (mostly) manually. My returns are pretty simple though.

mlipps
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by mlipps » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:24 am

I entered each W-2 and 1099 as they came in, so I think that took about an hour total. Another 30 min calculating the interest I paid on student loans this year because my stupid lenders didn't sent the form and my accounts are closed. Then maybe 30 min to tie up the loose ends and have husband double check everything. Maybe 30 minutes to do the IL return. Oh, and about 50 hours during the year reading about taxes for fun haha.

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frugaltype
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by frugaltype » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:39 am

sscritic wrote:I think you all work for the IRS with its estimates of "this form takes 15 minutes to fill out according to studies run by the Office of Management and Budget." Yah, right. On what planet?
Unorganized, are you? :D

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by sscritic » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:31 am

frugaltype wrote:
sscritic wrote:I think you all work for the IRS with its estimates of "this form takes 15 minutes to fill out according to studies run by the Office of Management and Budget." Yah, right. On what planet?
Unorganized, are you? :D
No, just a slow reader. (I do read the instructions.)

peppers
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by peppers » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:48 am

10 minutes to the coffee shop.
10 minutes to the CPA.

20 minutes total.

You have to ask the CPA how long it takes him.
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Buckeye
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Buckeye » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:40 am

Federal, State, local all in one hour max.

Already got both refunds last week. State early in the week and Fed a few days later. Was part of a pilot program that allowed for early e-filing though IRS didn't process filing till the 31st.

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frugaltype
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by frugaltype » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:44 am

sscritic wrote:
frugaltype wrote:
sscritic wrote:I think you all work for the IRS with its estimates of "this form takes 15 minutes to fill out according to studies run by the Office of Management and Budget." Yah, right. On what planet?
Unorganized, are you? :D
No, just a slow reader. (I do read the instructions.)
If you've done it for decades by hand, you only need to know what's changed.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by carolinaman » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:52 am

I keep a tax folder and do estimated federal and state return spreadsheets to be sure to withhold enough on RMDs. If there are no new issues/items for my taxes, it usually takes about 2 hours to do federal with TT and 1 hour for state manually. Considering all my prep time, it is probably about 10 hours total for year.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by englishgirl » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:21 am

Months. I am not organized, and my taxes get more complicated by the year: W2, 1099 IC income, 2 startup businesses mostly with massive expenses and minimal income this year, rental income, interest, mortgage deductions, property tax deductions, charitable contributions. Ugh. I sit down in front of Turbotax and start entering things as they come up or as I receive them. Typically it asks for some information and I have to go and dig for it. Which usually means shutting the computer and giving up for a few days until I get motivated to tackle a pile of receipts. And then there's the time trying to figure out where I went wrong in Turbo Tax (currently I have negative rental income and double the property tax and mortgage interest sitting in there - TT said that because I rent out part of my home to put in 100% of all my expenses and it would apportion them between me and the renter, then didn't). Sigh. This year I am actually involving a CPA to do the taxes for the businesses. My hope had been to print out my personal forms from TT for her to review and make sure I didn't claim stuff in the wrong place. But it's already a massive headache. :annoyed
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:29 am

Best guess estimate: 10 hours using TurboTax. That includes collecting, inputting of data and reviewing final product. If I were doing it by hand, double the time. I don't buy a word of the estimated times the IRS puts down for preparing forms, just reading up on how to do a gift tax return (Form 709) takes hours - the instruction booklet is at least 15 pages of microprint.
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Toons » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:32 am

Well If all the forms arrived on the same day,1099Bs,DIVs,INT,MISC,1099R's,SSA1099 it would take about 20-30 minutes to enter into TaxAct ,recheck another 10minutes,then efile.
State would take approx 20 minutes at the State website :happy
So total approx an hour.
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likegarden
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by likegarden » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:47 am

It will be the same as last year, but I take my time, I am retired, so no reason to rush. I have everything collected, I believe. So one of the next mornings, perhaps tomorrow, I will do taxes on paper forms by hand. Then the next morning I will run Turbotax with it. My time is therefore 2 mornings with coffee breaks. I like to do taxes.

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tuningfork
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by tuningfork » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:53 am

Typically in the 4 to 8 hour range. I collect all my tax-related forms throughout the year in a file folder so it's all in one place, and I have a folder on the computer where I download electronic copies of W2, 1099's, etc. as I go more paperless. After I enter everything into Turbotax in early February, I generally sit on it for a few weeks, then come back and review every entry looking for errors and omissions. After Fed is done, I use Turbotax to do State, but I reenter all figures manually into the State's website to avoid the Turbotax efiling fee.

I early-retired during 2013 so my tax situation is evolving. I am not including time I spent on bogleheads and other forums investigating the tax implications for pension lump sum rollover, 401k rollover, Roth IRA conversions during early retirement, 0% cap gains harvesting in low tax brackets, social security, ACA subsidies, etc. These I consider one-time planning events related to retirement that I wanted to understand thoroughly before acting.

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SteveNet
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by SteveNet » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:00 am

2 hours tops, taxcut, I fill in the info as it comes in the mail, dribs and drabs here and there.
I guess if I waited till it all came in about an hour tops.

Takes more time to log on and off than to actually input the info finding where I left off each time.
I should wait till it all comes in, but then where is the fun in that? :wink:
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by gkaplan » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:22 am

It depends on the year, does it not? Normally, I have a relatively simple return and could complete my federal and state returns just filling out PDF forms. This year, however, I have a relatively complicated return, having done a backdoor Roth conversion and having sold rental property, so it is taking me somewhat longer.
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Novine » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:26 am

I'm guessing 4 to 6 hours total but never in one sitting. Thank goodness for my organized wife. She files away everything in a folder that I pull out once I think I have all the various tax-related statements in hand. We've also gotten much better about tracking items like charitable contributions so what used to take an hour of pulling acknowledgements, confirming against the check register or bank statements, etc. is now a simple copy-and-paste from Google Docs to the tax form. I'm not sure if we're maxing our returns by doing it myself but I have a much better understanding of the tax code and how all of the various parts work together or against each other by working through the forms line by line.

sls239
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by sls239 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:38 am

Federal - An hour to get everything filled in and ready to e-file. There was nothing this year that I hadn't done before. I use the FreeFillableForms and use Excel to do calculations. I've always been fast and accurate with data entry.

State will take longer because there will be two part year resident returns to file and one of them I've never done before so I'll spend some time reading everything.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by MnD » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:42 am

Eight hours. Tax issues associated with 529's and other college tax issues with two in college is about 40% of that.
I find it interesting and use the time to keep up on the tax code with an eye for future year opportunities.

If I powered through it with the sole goal of minimum time I could probably cut the time in half.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by nash031 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:22 pm

Caduceus wrote:For those of you who do your own taxes, how long do you take to do them? Include the hours spent collecting or downloading information, entering them into your own spreadsheets, entering the information on tax software, researching answers to tax problems, and finally printing and sending them off. In other words, an "all-inclusive" duration.
I'd guess eight hours spread over the course of three or four days. Maybe two hours of that is information gathering, which I'd have to do anyway to send to a CPA.

While my tax situation isn't particularly complex - mortgage, some charitable donations, investments/dividends/interest/few sales - mine takes a little bit longer because I have to file MFJ Federal, MFS CA (DW) state, and MFS IL (me) state taxes. It's cumbersome to do in TurboTax, effectively making me do three separate returns.

I would much rather do it myself than pay someone to do it for me, not because I worry about the money paid, but more because I want to know everything I can about our financial situation, including taxes and implications of various actions. Trusting someone else to do it isn't an issue, but I'd spend time reading and understanding it all anyway, so why pay someone else to do something I want to do myself?

**Edit: I realize that I DO pay someone (Intuit)... maybe I should start doing it by hand to save the $70-80 too? Hmmm....
Last edited by nash031 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by stoptothink » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:25 pm

SteveNet wrote: I guess if I waited till it all came in about an hour tops.
This. Even with the added complications of a new marriage and daughter, it still took an hour tops. I just stay organized throughout the year and waited until I had all the forms in-hand. Interestingly, had we waited until '14 to get married (November 15th, 2013 was the day) our return would have been $5400 more. The tax benefits of being a somewhat low-income single parent are astounding, my wife's effective federal tax rate could have been ~5%.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by thomasbayarea » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:33 pm

Usually about 10 hours using TaxAct

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FelixTheCat
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by FelixTheCat » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:45 pm

TurboTax in an hour. Job, Investments, Rental property.

Understanding why I always owe the State and get money back from the Fed with 0 deductions....I've been working on that for five years now. :confused
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by travellight » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:48 pm

I use livesoft's method; except I involve a CPA as well.... and I start to get anxious by early September or late August because I don't want to cut it too close to the deadline after months of procrastinating. I probably spend 16 hours on my own just organizing and preparing all the data so the CPA will have it ready.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by killjoy2012 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:04 pm

3-4 hours in one sitting using TaxCut. Nothing too fancy, just itemizing. Most of that time is spent calculating things like my Roth phase out, making that & my HSA contribution for the previous year, understanding the detail behind some of the more important numbers, etc.

What's the story behind strategic filing for extensions? I take it you guys always owe a lot of money and are delaying as long as possible leverage interest/investment proceeds before handing the cash over?

btenny
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by btenny » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:06 pm

I spend about 12-14 hours spread over 4-5 days because I itemize a lot to try to minimize our taxes and so I understand how to keep them low in the future. Plus my state allows medical itemizing even if I take the standard deductions for the federal. My big time consumer is collecting all the deductions from check books and credit cards and receipts and writing them down on paper in a organized fashion. That effort usually takes me 3 days and 8 hours or so. Then entering the data to Turbo Tax and doing the calculations takes another day and 6 hours or so. I usually print out a trial run then and review it and then let it set for a few days or a week thinking about the results. I find that waiting usually allows me to find a few more deductions and gets me $100 or more most times. I then update TT and print out the final copy. I NEVER file electronically.

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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by tylerdurden » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:14 pm

I'm estimating it will take approximately 10-12 hours using TurboTax this year. Our taxes are also a bit complicated because of business income (rental and side business); this year more so because we moved to a different state in 2013, and have a lot of additional documentation to keep track of, not to mention two states to file taxes with.

On a normal year, it would have been around 5-6 hours, mainly because I don't do it in one sitting. And about an hour additional for my parents' taxes.
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Peter Foley » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:18 pm

My best guess is about 8 hours over the course of a few days. I use Turbo tax and have a complicated return that includes self employment and rental property. It takes at least a couple hours to gather the information for self employment and input it properly.

I also do returns for my two married daughters. About 2-3 hours each for those with itemized deductions taking up a good portion of that time. As they have never done their own taxes I always have to request additional information from them and that slows me down.

Userdc
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Userdc » Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:01 pm

I'd guess around 6-8 hours, using turbotax.

I spent about 4 hours this past weekend gathering all of the paperwork and inputting everything into turbo tax.

I had a follow up list about 5 items long of either missing forms or tax topics I wanted to research/double check, so I'll work through that over the next several months as time allows.

I find it helpful to step away for awhile and take a look with fresh eyes to make sure I'm not missing anything.

When I finally think I am done, I'll print out and read over the forms and schedules generated by turbotax and make sure it looks OK. I'll also do one last comparison to last year's form to make sure I didn't miss anything.

It seems like it gets longer every year. This year I have a schedule A, B, D, and H, and forms 1040, 6251, 8949, 8606 (x2) and 8889 (x2). I think that's everything!

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Duckie
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by Duckie » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:42 pm

At this point, about four hours spread over a couple of weeks. That doesn't count the "playing around/what if" time.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: How long does it take to do your taxes?

Post by FrugalInvestor » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:57 pm

One session of about 2 hours to organize and total everything and about another 3 or 4 short sessions totaling another 2 hours to enter everything into TurboTax, double check and play what-ifs to get Roth conversion and re-characterization finalized. I could probably cut an hour out of that if I wanted to do fewer, longer sessions but I need lots of breaks from taxes.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

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