Doing taxes by hand

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28fe6
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Doing taxes by hand

Post by 28fe6 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm

I am attracted to the idea of doing my taxes by hand with no software. Just the forms, a pencil, and calculator. Especially since TurboTax is like $70 now.

For 2018 I will have no itemized deductions but I will have ESPP and RSU sales, and of course contributions to retirement accounts. Is it a bad idea to do my taxes myself? I could easily cost myself $70 by doing something wrong. Does anyone who does it have any pointers or tips?

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BL
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by BL » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:32 pm

Good idea but find a free way to also calculate online or lower cost download as a check.
Spouse does ours by hand and I check with H&R Block bought on sale. Nice to see they both check out.

dknightd
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by dknightd » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:33 pm

I did not know they allowed use of a pencil !

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willthrill81
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:48 pm

I did our taxes by hand last year because I was too cheap to buy the software. I had used the free version of H&R Block for years, but I couldn't use it last year since it didn't support one of the needed schedules.

Unless you have an unusual situation, it's not difficult to do your taxes by hand. Doing so can actually be quite instructive.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

tim1999
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by tim1999 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:50 pm

My parents do theirs by hand, but their situation has always been pretty simple. I don't think it ever takes them more than an hour.

terran
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by terran » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:53 pm

As long as you're willing to read every line, follow the references to other forms/lines and read the instructions when you don't understand something you'll do fine. It takes some patience, but you'll learn a lot.

You can still file electronically and fill out all the forms directly instead of through tax software with Free File Fillable Forms https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-fi ... -is-closed

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:02 pm

I will probably do our 2018 taxes manually, as well. We won't have an itemized deductions total to be worthwhile, so taxes should be very simple for us. I have been using tax software last few years, but for our needs for our 2018 return it seems it would be a waste of money to purchase the current edition.

Broken Man 1999
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kaneohe
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by kaneohe » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:08 pm

If your situation is simple enough , tax calculators like this https://www.mortgagecalculator.org/calc ... ulator.php will give you an answer you can check your work against. Better yet, check against several
others too.......like Taxcaster and the HR Block tax calculator. You will probably learn a lot.

Momus
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Momus » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:11 pm

Find a friend or two or three... who can split the cost with you. Buy the cd version... All you need the the software to download. Cheap trick of mine.

jacoavlu
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by jacoavlu » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 pm

For folks doing paper. Do you print all forms and instructions at home? Or order them somehow? Last year I was gonna try by hand as well. our library didn’t have the forms. I already had TurboTax, and was too cheap to want to also print everything I would have needed to do by hand.

kaneohe
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by kaneohe » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:25 pm

jacoavlu wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 pm
For folks doing paper. Do you print all forms and instructions at home? Or order them somehow? Last year I was gonna try by hand as well. our library didn’t have the forms. I already had TurboTax, and was too cheap to want to also print everything I would have needed to do by hand.
You can order the forms from irs.gov https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/forms-an ... by-us-mail
Be advised however that, at least for me, receipt of the forms seems to be getting later and later each yr. Even tho
I order them the 1st wk of the new year, I typically don't get them all until mid March. Last yr, I started doing them on previous yr forms (that were the same .....line #s) as this yr) and didn't want to re-write them when the current yr forms came in so I crossed off the old yr IDs and wrote in 2017....so far, so good.

I suspect with the revamp of the forms that this yr will be even worse.

neilpilot
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by neilpilot » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:34 pm

Momus wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:11 pm
Find a friend or two or three... who can split the cost with you. Buy the cd version... All you need the the software to download. Cheap trick of mine.
A cheap trick that unfortunately almost certainly violates the software license you have agreed to. That could mean your suggestion is contrary to Bogelheads' posting guidelines.....maybe a list admin will comment further?

Spirit Rider
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Spirit Rider » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:36 pm

terran wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:53 pm
As long as you're willing to read every line, follow the references to other forms/lines and read the instructions when you don't understand something you'll do fine. It takes some patience, but you'll learn a lot.

You can still file electronically and fill out all the forms directly instead of through tax software with Free File Fillable Forms https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-fi ... -is-closed
You should at least at a minimum follow @terran's advice.

The Free Fillable Forms allow you to file electronically and most importantly do basic math calculations and validations.

It makes absolutely no sense to take the unnecessary risk of filing completely manually.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by AlohaJoe » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:54 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm
I could easily cost myself $70 by doing something wrong.
No, you can't easily cost yourself $70. That's a myth.

I fill out my tax forms by hand. I have active and passive income from three countries where I am tax resident. My tax situation is almost certainly more complicated than most people who aren't business owners.

It isn't hard to do taxes by hand. It requires reading and following instructions. I am tempted to say "any high school graduate can do it" but I'll hedge my bets and say "any college graduate can do it".

sawhorse
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by sawhorse » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:57 pm

I always did my taxes by hand until three years ago when I started having to report sales of capital assets from multiple accounts. I love the fact that H&R Block software lets you log in to your account at those companies (Vanguard, Fidelity, etc), and all that information is automatically downloaded into your tax return.

My parents have done their taxes by hand their entire lives.

sawdust60
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by sawdust60 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:08 pm

All forms and instructions are available at https://www.irs.gov/forms-instructions

1. type in a simple search term, such as '1040'

2. when you see the link to the form -- download it -- right-click and 'save link as'

[If you click the form, it will open in your browser. That is fine for instructions or perhaps printing a blank form. But these forms are fillable; you should save them and then use Adobe Reader to open them. Once you have typed-in your data, save the form and your data should also be saved.]

Print only what you need.
- Print the forms when complete.
- Print single pages from the instructions, such as when you need one of the worksheets.

tibbitts
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by tibbitts » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:17 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm
I am attracted to the idea of doing my taxes by hand with no software. Just the forms, a pencil, and calculator. Especially since TurboTax is like $70 now.

For 2018 I will have no itemized deductions but I will have ESPP and RSU sales, and of course contributions to retirement accounts. Is it a bad idea to do my taxes myself? I could easily cost myself $70 by doing something wrong. Does anyone who does it have any pointers or tips?
I used to do mine by hand, then wrote my own software to help that I used and updated for probably 20 years. I wouldn't do that now, but I'm not sure you need to spend $70 for Turbotax - why not one of the less expensive alternatives?

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friar1610
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by friar1610 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:44 pm

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:02 pm
I will probably do our 2018 taxes manually, as well. We won't have an itemized deductions total to be worthwhile, so taxes should be very simple for us. I have been using tax software last few years, but for our needs for our 2018 return it seems it would be a waste of money to purchase the current edition.

Broken Man 1999
You raise a good point. With the new tax law we'll be taking the standard deduction this year so it should be pretty simple. Think I'll give it a try.
Friar1610

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tfb
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by tfb » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:11 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm
I am attracted to the idea of doing my taxes by hand with no software. Just the forms, a pencil, and calculator. Especially since TurboTax is like $70 now.
Software under $20 (FreeTaxUSA etc.) is still much easier than doing it by hand, especially when you make changes. Oops, another 1099 came in. With software you just re-print the forms. You will do it all over again when you do it by hand.
Harry Sit, taking a break from the forums.

muddgirl
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by muddgirl » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:32 pm

I have used Free Fillable Forms for the past several years. I like that it does much of the math for me but otherwise it is exactly like doing it with pencil & paper, but I can still efile.

If I have a complicated situation, I can use Turbotax online for free to double-check that my understanding agrees with theirs, but usually a close reading of the IRS instructions for each line and each form is enough to understand what is necessary.

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White Coat Investor
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by White Coat Investor » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:34 pm

28fe6 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm
I am attracted to the idea of doing my taxes by hand with no software. Just the forms, a pencil, and calculator. Especially since TurboTax is like $70 now.

For 2018 I will have no itemized deductions but I will have ESPP and RSU sales, and of course contributions to retirement accounts. Is it a bad idea to do my taxes myself? I could easily cost myself $70 by doing something wrong. Does anyone who does it have any pointers or tips?
I tried it a few times but it's such a pain when you make a minor math error I don't think it's worth it. That said, you actually have to learn to do taxes two different ways when you do it with Turbotax. First you have to figure out the tax code, then you have to figure out Turbotax. That's kind of a pain. Doing it by hand is certainly handy for learning how the tax code works, but I think you can get that by going over your forms carefully after Turbotax spits them out.

I've done a partnership return and a corporation return by hand too. Good times.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course

random_walker_77
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by random_walker_77 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:41 pm

I wouldn't do it entirely by hand. Manually, w/ a spreadsheet as my calculator, maybe.

But time is money, and the $20 for a copy of H&R Block (when on sale), is worth it to me. Lately, I've been getting the version from amazon which offers a rebate bonus when applied to an amazon gift card. The year that it was 10%, I purposely made an extra-large Q4 estimated tax payment, as the rebate bonus paid for many years' worth of tax software.

What is extremely important, I strongly believe, is reviewing the completed forms line by line. Both to cross-check against W2/1099's for data entry errors, and to understand how the calculations are done.

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willthrill81
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by willthrill81 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:50 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:34 pm
Momus wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:11 pm
Find a friend or two or three... who can split the cost with you. Buy the cd version... All you need the the software to download. Cheap trick of mine.
A cheap trick that unfortunately almost certainly violates the software license you have agreed to. That could mean your suggestion is contrary to Bogelheads' posting guidelines.....maybe a list admin will comment further?
I'm not sure that software licenses don't allow you to run multiple people's taxes through the same computer. Installing the software on multiple computers might be a problem, but most companies that don't allow that have means of enforcing it.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

Stacking_Benjamins
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Stacking_Benjamins » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:30 am

jacoavlu wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 pm
For folks doing paper. Do you print all forms and instructions at home? Or order them somehow? Last year I was gonna try by hand as well. our library didn’t have the forms. I already had TurboTax, and was too cheap to want to also print everything I would have needed to do by hand.
My library always has the forms sitting out in the entrance at the beginning of the year.

MrJones
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by MrJones » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:48 am

https://sites.google.com/site/excel1040/ is a person offering a free Excel sheet that computer taxes. Donations accepted. Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with this site, but I've used his sheet to cross check my results and it is extremely well done.

Another advantage of not buying software is you don't support the companies that lobby against simplifying our tax code.

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black jack
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by black jack » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:03 am

muddgirl wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:32 pm
I have used Free Fillable Forms for the past several years. I like that it does much of the math for me but otherwise it is exactly like doing it with pencil & paper, but I can still efile.

If I have a complicated situation, I can use Turbotax online for free to double-check that my understanding agrees with theirs, but usually a close reading of the IRS instructions for each line and each form is enough to understand what is necessary.
This. If your goal is to save the $70 or whatever Turbotax would charge, use Turbotax online. Turbotax online doesn't charge you until you use it to file the forms, so use it to get the forms filled in, then copy the results to a printed-out form or use the Free Fillable Forms.

But it's also true that for most situations a reasonably detail-oriented person can do their own taxes, with the help of the IRS instructions and perhaps something like JK Lasser's Your Income Tax (likely available at your local library, but hard to get hold of during tax season--use last year's copy and check IRS's manual for any changes for the current year, or see if it's available online through your library).
We cannot absolutely prove [that they are wrong who say] that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. | -T. B. Macaulay (1800-1859)

CarpeDiem22
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by CarpeDiem22 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:18 am

Surprised to see people filing physical forms. Here in the third world, tax department provides macro-enabled dowloadable excels where I can fill in my income and tax deductions for the year and all calculations are done automatically. Then I upload the xml to tax dept website. Its all free.

I was using a software for a minor fee, but did my own and my family's taxes last year for free. Youtube tutorials were useful.

mouses
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by mouses » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:25 am

jacoavlu wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 pm
For folks doing paper. Do you print all forms and instructions at home? Or order them somehow? Last year I was gonna try by hand as well. our library didn’t have the forms. I already had TurboTax, and was too cheap to want to also print everything I would have needed to do by hand.
I used to order them or pick them up at the library, but I changed over to printing them from the IRS website several years ago. The local library no longer stocks them, but they have pcs/printers that one can use to print them off for something like a dime a page.

I keep the instructions in electronic form, no sense in printing those off except the worksheets.

I have always done my taxes by hand.

mouses
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by mouses » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:27 am

tfb wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:11 pm
28fe6 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm
I am attracted to the idea of doing my taxes by hand with no software. Just the forms, a pencil, and calculator. Especially since TurboTax is like $70 now.
Software under $20 (FreeTaxUSA etc.) is still much easier than doing it by hand, especially when you make changes. Oops, another 1099 came in. With software you just re-print the forms. You will do it all over again when you do it by hand.
No, that's what WhiteOut is for. I also keep a list of accounts so I know if a form is missing.

mouses
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by mouses » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:32 am

Spirit Rider wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:36 pm

The Free Fillable Forms allow you to file electronically and most importantly do basic math calculations and validations.

It makes absolutely no sense to take the unnecessary risk of filing completely manually.
Do you think you will go to jail if you make a small arithmetic mistake? No, the IRS catches it and asks for more money or sends you a refund. Plus I always double check my arithmetic.

rgs92
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by rgs92 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:49 am

It looks like Turbotax basic is $21 on Ebay with free Fed efile.
https://iquickbooktax.com/products/Turb ... gK3ovD_BwE

Starfish
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Starfish » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:55 am

28fe6 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm
I am attracted to the idea of doing my taxes by hand with no software. Just the forms, a pencil, and calculator. Especially since TurboTax is like $70 now.

For 2018 I will have no itemized deductions but I will have ESPP and RSU sales, and of course contributions to retirement accounts. Is it a bad idea to do my taxes myself? I could easily cost myself $70 by doing something wrong. Does anyone who does it have any pointers or tips?
I used to to exactly that in my 20s, but life was simpler.
However when I started day trading I had to use Excel for Schedule D. There are many MS Office free "clones" (I have WPS, it's good). Excel does computations too for you.

CurlyDave
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by CurlyDave » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:05 am

Back in the olden days, everyone used to do their taxes by hand and thought nothing of it. I did that for 25 years.

Essentially if you don't want to pony up $20-$70 for software, your income has to be low enough to make hand filing easy. Anyone who has a large enough income will find paying for the software to be worthwhile -- I did that for many years.

Then we ran into a situation where our income increased dramatically and at the same time knowing the ins and outs of what qualified as a deduction made having a CPA do the taxes worthwhile.

Shallowpockets
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Shallowpockets » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:06 am

The best thing about software taxes is the possible "what ifs" you can run. Try hat by hand, because many other calculations would have to be changed. The software does it all simultaneously.
What Luddite wou,d do taxes by hand? To save $70. Meanwhile spendiing $70 worth of time and effort with their pencil. Plus the cost and hassle of finding and printing the approximate forms.
I save money elsewhere in life to the extent that the $70 is not significant when compared to that saving. Let me tell you, I am a frugal (cheap) SOB and even I cannot get behind saving that cost for tax software.

Swansea
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Swansea » Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:02 am

When I did mine by hand, the Qualified Dividends and Capital Gains Worksheet always caused me lots of pain. Got refunds from IRS twice, gave up and hired a CPA. I had used TT for years before, but never really got comfortable with it.

amitb00
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by amitb00 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:17 am

If you have a T Toweprice Account, online Turbo Tax premier version costs $10

carolinaman
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by carolinaman » Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:43 am

I used to do them by hand. But as my returns got more complicated I started using TT. I still maintain I can do them faster manually than by using TT, but I do not make errors using TT. TT does check things like AMT which I do not have to and occasionally asks a question that helps me avoid errors. I am pretty locked in to TT unless they get really greedy on their price.

I do my state return manually because it feeds off the federal and only takes 20 to 30 minutes. No way I wlll pay $39.99 for that.

Millennial
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Millennial » Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:59 am

Credit Karma Tax is free. When it first started, I typically checked it with TurboTax or similar, but when the numbers lined up I'd submit either CK for free.

They did have an issue in my state last year (did not support the 529 deduction) so so had to file state taxes by hand. I still used CK to do most of the math by completing and printing the return there. I simply transcribed to a paper form and added the missing deduction prior to sending it in.

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legio XX
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by legio XX » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:14 am

jacoavlu wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 pm
For folks doing paper. Do you print all forms and instructions at home? Or order them somehow? Last year I was gonna try by hand as well. our library didn’t have the forms.
My experience matches what others have already posted. The library and post office no longer have the IRS forms in my neighborhood, and the state apparently doesn't even make them any more. By the time the IRS sent what I had ordered, my return was long done. The people in my assembly member's office actually printed out the state instructions for me - much shorter than the fed version. Sometimes friends who live in the boroughs can snag an extra copy, but not always. I print out the forms (simple return with modest income, only a few forms) and the worksheets and the relevant portions of the instructions.

Since it's a simple return, only the first few attempts were killers. Now that I know what to expect, I do a quick and dirty after Thanksgiving and print out the forms right after New Year's. The last head-kicker was reaching RMD-age which did change things :shock: , but by now I've gotten used to it. Always re=check the figures, and if there's a mismatch I do it again, but that's it.

Truth in advertising: For the first time, the IRS asked me for a few hundred $$ more on the 2017 return. I can't find any error. The people who answer the IRS phone came up with a completely different figure than either of the other two. Apparently, it now goes back to the original worker who said I owed more, and I am waiting for a resolution. There was a simple keying error on the initial notification - it doesn't match the amount they want - and right now, I am betting on me and my pencil!

Hey, just FYI, try doing it by hand - consider it a tutorial -

quantAndHold
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:27 am

Dad always did his taxes by hand. He was an accountant back in the day, so it was right in his wheelhouse. He would spend days doing taxes. All of his income in retirement was from investments, so it took awhile, and would require multiple trips to the federal building downtown to get forms that he didn’t know he needed, and didn’t have time to wait for the IRS to mail.

Then he had some health problems, and wasn’t up to doing it. So I brought my laptop, my copy of TurboTax, and did his taxes for him. Plowed through the stack of 1099’s and K-1’s. Finished in an hour. It wasn’t actually that complicated. Got the same result he would have.

I was his tax person from then on.

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teen persuasion
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Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by teen persuasion » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:17 am

legio XX wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:14 am
jacoavlu wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 pm
For folks doing paper. Do you print all forms and instructions at home? Or order them somehow? Last year I was gonna try by hand as well. our library didn’t have the forms.
My experience matches what others have already posted. The library and post office no longer have the IRS forms in my neighborhood, and the state apparently doesn't even make them any more. By the time the IRS sent what I had ordered, my return was long done. The people in my assembly member's office actually printed out the state instructions for me - much shorter than the fed version. Sometimes friends who live in the boroughs can snag an extra copy, but not always. I print out the forms (simple return with modest income, only a few forms) and the worksheets and the relevant portions of the instructions.

Since it's a simple return, only the first few attempts were killers. Now that I know what to expect, I do a quick and dirty after Thanksgiving and print out the forms right after New Year's. The last head-kicker was reaching RMD-age which did change things :shock: , but by now I've gotten used to it. Always re=check the figures, and if there's a mismatch I do it again, but that's it.

Truth in advertising: For the first time, the IRS asked me for a few hundred $$ more on the 2017 return. I can't find any error. The people who answer the IRS phone came up with a completely different figure than either of the other two. Apparently, it now goes back to the original worker who said I owed more, and I am waiting for a resolution. There was a simple keying error on the initial notification - it doesn't match the amount they want - and right now, I am betting on me and my pencil!

Hey, just FYI, try doing it by hand - consider it a tutorial -
Library staff here - it's the IRS and NYS no longer sending many forms to the libraries in recent years. We receive them later and later each year, too.

I just received the order forms from IRS a week or so ago; they will apparently only be sending out packets with the 1040 and Schedules 1-6, and separate instruction booklets. They "suggested" a quantity of 15! For reference, 3 years ago we ran out after 300. A year or 2 ago, the state just summarily cut deliveries of forms to 5 each (of a limited subset of the forms available in previous years), and 2 of instruction booklets. No reorders, period. No communication, months late.

We are put in a hard place - libraries are all about giving people information. But we can't absorb the cost of printing off government tax forms for free for patrons accustomed to finding those forms at the library. When the delays and cutbacks in forms available began, I aggressively tried to find other avenues for our patrons (like showing them how to order directly from IRS), but found the same delays other posters have. It's frustrating.

Even fillable forms isn't an option for us - if you efile federal, you must efile your state, too, but there's no corresponding fillable forms from the state. You have to go thru SW to efile the state, which means you have to go thru your federal in the SW first. The state definitely is trying to make paper filing difficult, but won't create their own fillable forms option (a limited set of forms was abandoned several years ago - anything related to children was never developed, so I could never try that option out when it existed).

I'm used to paper filing, and do it as a first run, but then go thru SW simply to efile. The Q & A format definitely takes me longer than paper & pencil.

Boglegrappler
Posts: 1104
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:24 am

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Boglegrappler » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:27 am

I did my taxes by hand, laid out on the dining room table, usually in two weekends. At that time, my tax situation was fairly simple. I agree with the position that doing them manually is instructive, and you'll understand better what's going on.

The caveat, though, is that if your situation is at all complex, you run the risk of missing something, or not understanding some instruction. Using software will help you avoid "missing" or misunderstanding something.

Now, even then, you will have some risk. Some years back I misapprehended how the software and 1099 form treated interest on US treasury obligations, and I made entries in the tax program that wound up double counting my interest income. I only discovered it by accident when we got an out-of-the-blue inquiry from a western state that thought we owed them some money. We didn't owe them anything, but a fresh look at the returns revealed that I'd screwed up entering the interest income, and had done so for several years. It was fun to file the amended returns with a material refund to us.

So just be careful, whichever way you go. Good luck.

Spirit Rider
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:39 pm

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Spirit Rider » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:38 am

mouses wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:32 am
Spirit Rider wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:36 pm

The Free Fillable Forms allow you to file electronically and most importantly do basic math calculations and validations.

It makes absolutely no sense to take the unnecessary risk of filing completely manually.
Do you think you will go to jail if you make a small arithmetic mistake? No, the IRS catches it and asks for more money or sends you a refund. Plus I always double check my arithmetic.
No, but math mistakes are the most common reason for delays in tax return process.

Do you think it is really that hard to manually input your data online to the IRS to avoid that and file online for even faster processing?

My point is you are still doing it manually, just with data entry and electronic filing.
Last edited by Spirit Rider on Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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C4NT
Posts: 221
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:30 pm

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by C4NT » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:40 am

If you're looking for a cheaper tax software alternative, credt karma offered free tax prep last year.

My capital one card gave me free tax prep through HR Block.

Parthenon
Posts: 434
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 3:44 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by Parthenon » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:41 am

MrJones wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:48 am
https://sites.google.com/site/excel1040/ is a person offering a free Excel sheet that computer taxes. Donations accepted. Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with this site, but I've used his sheet to cross check my results and it is extremely well done.

Another advantage of not buying software is you don't support the companies that lobby against simplifying our tax code.
I'll second this. The current 2018 draft is available at https://sites.google.com/site/excel1040 ... ew-tax-law

Ed
"What am I gonna do if I run out of money?"

MnD
Posts: 3805
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:41 pm

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by MnD » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:50 am

It costs the feds and states much more to support and process paper returns which also account for a disproportionate amount of returns with errors which add another layer of costs. Do society a favor and use some sort of electronic return with error checking.

littlebird
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:05 pm
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by littlebird » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:55 am

mouses wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:25 am
I used to order them or pick them up at the library, but I changed over to printing them from the IRS website several years ago. The local library no longer stocks them, but they have pcs/printers that one can use to print them off for something like a dime a page.

I keep the instructions in electronic form, no sense in printing those off except the worksheets.

I have always done my taxes by hand.
Exactly the same here.

JackoC
Posts: 349
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:14 am

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by JackoC » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:13 am

Entirely depends on your tax situation and also just you, how you learn for one thing. I've found that doing taxes with software is a better way to learn how taxes really work, if you invest a little time after you're finished with the real return varying parameters to see how it affects the answer. That would be onerous to do by hand, even if doing the real return might not be, *if* it's simple enough.

In fairly recent years I did my kids' trust returns by hand to save buying the extra software for form 1041 but I also gave up on that as the total number of returns I had to do kept growing. I now do 19 returns each year among self/wife, LLC, trusts, and grown kids' personal taxes Fed and sometimes more than one state each. Doing any of those by hand is too much extra time, and with most of them there would be too much greater risk of mistakes or missing stuff.

tibbitts
Posts: 8101
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by tibbitts » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:16 am

mouses wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:32 am
Spirit Rider wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:36 pm

The Free Fillable Forms allow you to file electronically and most importantly do basic math calculations and validations.

It makes absolutely no sense to take the unnecessary risk of filing completely manually.
Do you think you will go to jail if you make a small arithmetic mistake? No, the IRS catches it and asks for more money or sends you a refund. Plus I always double check my arithmetic.
I could quadruple-check mine and still make mistakes that software wouldn't.

tibbitts
Posts: 8101
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Doing taxes by hand

Post by tibbitts » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:19 am

mouses wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:27 am
tfb wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:11 pm
28fe6 wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:27 pm
I am attracted to the idea of doing my taxes by hand with no software. Just the forms, a pencil, and calculator. Especially since TurboTax is like $70 now.
Software under $20 (FreeTaxUSA etc.) is still much easier than doing it by hand, especially when you make changes. Oops, another 1099 came in. With software you just re-print the forms. You will do it all over again when you do it by hand.
No, that's what WhiteOut is for. I also keep a list of accounts so I know if a form is missing.
I wouldn't use whiteout on a tax return - all kinds of potential issues with that. It's hard enough for hand printing to be read properly without adding whiteout to the equation.

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