Who does your tax returns?

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Gnirk
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Gnirk »

An independent CPA, who also did the tax returns for our business before we sold it.
RDHUSA
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by RDHUSA »

Have always done my own. First with a stubby pencil, then with TurboTax, switched to TaxAct a few years back because it was much cheaper, but the price of TaxAct has escalated and last year I switched to H&R Block. All of them worked, but I think TurboTax was probably the easiest to use and understand and I may go back to it even though it costs a little more.
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Toons
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Toons »

Me
Since 1997
Started with Turbo Tax
TaxAct the last 9 years



:happy
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Frank Grimes
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Frank Grimes »

For the first couple of years after college I did them and my future wife's by hand and mailed them for fed and state. 1040EZ at the time was super easy.

Ever since I've been using TurboTax. It is very quick to use as it rolls forward prior year information to reduce inputs. I have a fairly simple return (W2s, investment stuff and schedule A) so I feel fully capable of preparing my taxes for that. 75% of it is get W2, 1099, 1098 etc and enter it into tax return form.

Like many of you, the fact that I have prepared them for years allows me to get the gist of what "should" result from my inputs in the questionnaire part. I still frequently toggle to the forms view quite often to make sure my responses to the questionnaire generate the correct result. For example, the steps you take to prepare a backdoor Roth and fill out form 8606 are not intuitive at all and in prior years I earned myself CP2000 letters from the IRS to improve my documentation.
Tal-
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Tal- »

Small independent tax shop. Costs around $2K/year.

Our tax situation is pretty complicated, and we have found the relationship and expertise worth the cost. We tried turbotax a couple years ago, and didn't get close to finshing it.

Using rough numbers, I would suggest by-hand for ~25% of people, turbotax (or the like) for ~60%, and a CPA/firm for the reamining ~15%.
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bsteiner
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by bsteiner »

I do my own, on the H&R Block (formerly Kiplinger's, formerly Andrew Tobias' TaxCut) since the early 1990s, and before that by hand.

But many tax and trusts and estates lawyers have accountants do their returns.
mindboggling
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by mindboggling »

Have always done my own. Last few years used Tax Act. This year (for 2018) used FreeTaxUSA. Have always fought hard to keep my affairs simple. Now retirement is settling down.
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MikeG62
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by MikeG62 »

I have done it myself using TurboTax since 1999. Before that, I did it by hand.
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abuss368
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by abuss368 »

I prepare our tax returns as well as family and have done so for many years.
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by abuss368 »

I use freetaxusa.com

Only pay for state tax return (if needed). Federal with e-filing is free.
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legio XX
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by legio XX »

fru-gal wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Same here. Modest income and pretty simple return. I consider it earning what I would pay a preparer. Software is less expensive, but I would need to learn to use it. Time.
Dottie57
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Dottie57 »

I use Turbo tax and e-file. Print out the documents and review.
trueblueky
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by trueblueky »

tomd37 wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:39 am The OPs list of who does your tax return did not include one big source of tax preparation services; AARP Foundation Tax-Aide (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) who prepare well over 2,000,000 returns each year at no cost to the taxpayer.

The IRS also sponsors a similar free program for low to moderate income individuals, through the United Way in my area, called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). They probably do more free returns than Tax-Aide but have an income limit.
I volunteer at a Tax-Aide site and prepare our taxes with that TaxSlayer software. I was at a Vita site until the sponsoring non-profit decided it was taking too much paid staff time to manage.
bac
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by bac »

I've been using TaxCut for what seems like 20 years. Before that, I did returns by hand.

I've seen accountants screw up tax returns, so I figure I can't do too much worse.
Afty
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Afty »

I do them myself now with H&R Block software. Previously I had a CPA do them, but I found that collecting all the documents and filling out his questionnaire was nearly as much work as just entering all the info into the tax software myself. I would also have to double check his returns, and each year I would find some error that I would have to ask him to correct. Maybe he just wasn’t a very good CPA.

I also think there’s value in learning how tax returns work so you can understand how different things might affect your tax situation.
Liam Friend
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Liam Friend »

I use a small local firm. Did my own for years as a W-2 employee. Now paid by K-1 from two separate partnerships with state returns in eight states. I’m just not confident that I’d get it right.
catlady
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by catlady »

TurboTax for the last 15+ years.
Mickey7
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Mickey7 »

TurboTax for the last probably 20 years.
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John151
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by John151 »

For many years I did my taxes by hand. Then I used Turbotax when it became available at a discount for Vanguard investors. When Vanguard dropped that option, I moved to TaxAct, and when TaxAct raised its prices, I moved to FreeTaxUSA. I’ve used FreeTaxUSA for the last couple of years and plan to use it going forward.

I haven’t found much difference in the tax services I’ve used, aside from price.
AlohaJoe
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by AlohaJoe »

For US taxes I do it myself by hand.

For Australian taxes I use the free government provided tax software.

For Vietnamese taxes I have an accountant.
mav12
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by mav12 »

Might I suggest a free option?

VITA (volunteer income tax assistance program) through AARP. I volunteer for them (you can too, very small time commitment requested, but not required) + education is free all January long. We use TaxSlayer software. In addition, you have two sets of eyes looking over your return before filing.
Last edited by mav12 on Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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FiveK
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by FiveK »

Add 1 to the "have a spreadsheet for predictions; use TurboTax (free from Fidelity) for actual returns" column.

And, just for fun :wink:, also use TaxSlayer through Tax-Aide for another check.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by unclescrooge »

teen persuasion wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:40 am
fru-gal wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Exactly! Then I run it thru TurboTax to efile. I would love to use the free fillable forms, but my state insists that if you efile federal, you must efile state, too, but they don't provide their own fillable forms. You thus must use commercial SW to efile.

I really despise the Q & A format of commercial SW, just let me fill in the blanks! I've been told the premium versions let you toggle directly to forms, but I'm eligible to use the free versions, so cost wins out over convenience.

I've learned the hard way that you must start with the links on your state's free file page, not the IRS free file links, if you want the state return also free. One year TurboTax was inexplicably not on the state's approved list; the one I chose turned out to be H&R Block in disguise (why?), and their result conflicted with my own and TurboTax's result - wouldn't allow the AOTC for DD3. That's my biggest reason for doing it by hand first - so i catch any errors before it is filed, rather than relying implicitly on the SW.
Turbo tax let's you directly move to the forms section and skip the questionnaire section.
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teen persuasion
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by teen persuasion »

unclescrooge wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:15 pm
teen persuasion wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:40 am
fru-gal wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Exactly! Then I run it thru TurboTax to efile. I would love to use the free fillable forms, but my state insists that if you efile federal, you must efile state, too, but they don't provide their own fillable forms. You thus must use commercial SW to efile.

I really despise the Q & A format of commercial SW, just let me fill in the blanks! I've been told the premium versions let you toggle directly to forms, but I'm eligible to use the free versions, so cost wins out over convenience.

I've learned the hard way that you must start with the links on your state's free file page, not the IRS free file links, if you want the state return also free. One year TurboTax was inexplicably not on the state's approved list; the one I chose turned out to be H&R Block in disguise (why?), and their result conflicted with my own and TurboTax's result - wouldn't allow the AOTC for DD3. That's my biggest reason for doing it by hand first - so i catch any errors before it is filed, rather than relying implicitly on the SW.
Turbo tax let's you directly move to the forms section and skip the questionnaire section.
Have you used the free file version available for those eligible for EITC or otherwise lower income? That's the version I've used to date. I've searched all over the site while doing my taxes, and couldn't find this option.

I'd love to be proved wrong
alrick
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by alrick »

With our combined retirement funds in mid-seven figures, several sources of current income, and real estate LLC income and transactions.....we have used CPA services for a number of years. However, I usually run Turbo Tax or other simplified tax software just to see how my rough outcomes compare with the work of the CPA.
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jfn111
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by jfn111 »

For my wife and myself I use a small local firm. I use H&R Block Tax Cut software to do my sons and a friend of his taxes.
student
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by student »

I am a salaried employee. I use either turbotax or taxcut, whichever is cheaper.
StealthRabbit
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by StealthRabbit »

bac wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 6:59 pm I've been using TaxCut for what seems like 20 years. Before that, I did returns by hand.

I've seen accountants screw up tax returns, so I figure I can't do too much worse.
Taxcut since pre Y2K
(Rental props, farm, business, LLCs, investment, 1031's, multi-state income (all income tax free states) and wage income - pretty complex Depreciation / recapture schedules)

I run any questions past a very excellent "enrolled Agent' (~$60)
Swansea
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Swansea »

Independent CPA.
Used to do it by hand, but made errors not in my favor...so it was time to change.
Rudedog
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Rudedog »

Retired CPA--I prepare the tax returns myself using tax software from the CPA firm I used to work for. I'll probably start using Turbotax at some point.

I usually "rough out" the tax returns in December using EXCEL and generally I am pretty close to what eventually gets filed.
Bir48die
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Bir48die »

I have done mine all my life. I will say it was difficult for quite awhile due to accounting for all the capital gains and K-1's. Now finally I get direct transfer on all data from Schwab and Fidelity on TT. However I still have to do 20 or so K-1's which for the most part is just time consuming.
Smoke
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Smoke »

Do them myself, via free program thru the IRS
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.
mnsportsgeek
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by mnsportsgeek »

I do my own with turbotax. I also have a pretty easy return.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by unclescrooge »

teen persuasion wrote: Sat Oct 26, 2019 6:49 am
unclescrooge wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:15 pm
teen persuasion wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:40 am
fru-gal wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Exactly! Then I run it thru TurboTax to efile. I would love to use the free fillable forms, but my state insists that if you efile federal, you must efile state, too, but they don't provide their own fillable forms. You thus must use commercial SW to efile.

I really despise the Q & A format of commercial SW, just let me fill in the blanks! I've been told the premium versions let you toggle directly to forms, but I'm eligible to use the free versions, so cost wins out over convenience.

I've learned the hard way that you must start with the links on your state's free file page, not the IRS free file links, if you want the state return also free. One year TurboTax was inexplicably not on the state's approved list; the one I chose turned out to be H&R Block in disguise (why?), and their result conflicted with my own and TurboTax's result - wouldn't allow the AOTC for DD3. That's my biggest reason for doing it by hand first - so i catch any errors before it is filed, rather than relying implicitly on the SW.
Turbo tax let's you directly move to the forms section and skip the questionnaire section.
Have you used the free file version available for those eligible for EITC or otherwise lower income? That's the version I've used to date. I've searched all over the site while doing my taxes, and couldn't find this option.

I'd love to be proved wrong
I recommend downloading the desktop version. The web based version does not have full functionality.
neilpilot
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by neilpilot »

I've done my own since 1968. When PC software became mainstream, switched from doing return by hand to using TurboTax. Several years ago, when Intuit marketing became greedy and tried to cut the ability to file capital gains in TurboTax Deluxe, I switched to H&R Bock and never looked back. So far as I can tell, they are both fine, but I no longer trust Intuit's marketing ploys.

Unless your return is complex, in my opinion there's a significant disadvantage in using a CPA since there's a tendency to not keep up with tax law and simply leave the planning to them. The most valuable thing I do is run through the current year's tax status at 6 and 9 months, allowing me to better plan end of year tax strategy in the 4th quarter. Things like Roth Conversion and IRMAA avoidance can be planned best if you understand how your taxes work.

One year, back in the 80s, my DF criticized me for doing my own taxes. He had always used a CPA, and he was certain that I would save on taxes if I also used his CPA. So that spring, after I penciled in my return I visited his CPA. Let's just say that, if that CPA had offered to complete my return for free, I would have still been better off doing it myself.
Jakabedy
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Jakabedy »

DIY, by hand. When married, my spouse did the taxes and used TurboTax. The tax situation was also more complicated then with a business, and side gigs, and more available deductions prior to the most recent tax reform. 2017 was complex with a work-related move, shuttering of a business, sale/purchase of homes, etc. By contrast, the divorce year of 2018 was super simple. I just had W2 income and SALT wasn't enough to beat the standard deduction. Now that I'm "in the system" for feds and state as a solo filer, I should be able to file both online for 2019.
rkhusky
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by rkhusky »

Spreadsheet copied into fillable .pdf's, printed, and mailed.
capran
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by capran »

I am 67 and have always done my own taxes, and never had a problem, but this year I think I'll need help. We received a K1(inheritance beneficiary) that has two items I just can't figure out. Box 6 has $225. "ordinary business income" ie "passive income". And $601 in box 9 Directly apportioned deduction. The instructions on the K1 say the income goes on Schedule E line 33, Column D, and the instructions say the "total Apportioned deductions" should go on form 8582 or Schedule E, line 33, column C (I believe that both of these originated from Prudhoe Bay Royalties). But I find myself getting lost in the instructions, which are not clear. Looks like the directly apportioned deduction would only apply to offset the income, and the balance would carry over into future years if there was ever passive income. But where it all goes on the forms is beyond me. very frustrating, and don't know I want to trust software to get it right.
walleyf
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by walleyf »

I have always done my own taxes, first by hand on paper forms (60s-80s) and then by Macintax and now on to Turbotax. My wife used to have her own business which caused issues for depreciation, etc., but Turbotax could handle it. We currently have two issues: occasionally we sell stock purchased or inherited decades ago so determining basis is difficult. Since most of the amount received is gain anyway no one seems to care. The second is our state residency issue. I live in New York and she lives and works in Pennsylvania. I have no PA income and she has no NY income. We easily file a joint US Form1040 but file separate state returns as married filing separately. This requires us to complete 3 different Turbotax returns as it does not know how to handle our situation. This ultimately will be solved by moving to Florida which does not have state income tax.
RudyS
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by RudyS »

Hockey10 wrote: Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:59 am I use TurboTax, plus I read all of the tax questions posted on Bogleheads. You can lean a lot from livesoft.....
+1
civility
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by civility »

Do it myself with free version of HR block.
Small Savanna
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Small Savanna »

I do ours with tax software, and have been doing that for at least a decade. We used paper forms before that. Tax situation has ranged from simple to complex, with itemized deductions, capital gains, 8606, AMT, and NIIT. Things got somewhat simpler in 2018, since we no longer had AMT and took the standard deduction.

Before filing I print out the forms in order to see/understand what the software is doing, then file electronically. We've used a few different software packages, but most recently FreeTaxUSA, which was cheaper and better than one of the bigger names we used in previous years.
dewey
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by dewey »

TurboTax.
“The only freedom that is of enduring importance is freedom of intelligence…” John Dewey
ClaycordJCA
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by ClaycordJCA »

dewey wrote: Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:45 amTurboTax.
+1.
andypanda
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by andypanda »

CPA firm.

I did my own taxes every year starting in the '60s. From '06 through '17 I did my parents' taxes. I never used software and many years didn't use a calculator. I like numbers and filling out forms in ink.

I got married last year and with the new tax laws, her income, IRMAA, foreign taxes paid, AMT, quarterly estimated, etc.,etc.,etc. I decided that freeing up a chunk of my time in late March and early April was worth $650. Might be the best money I ever spent.

I like tax season now. No more waiting for all the 1099's and corrected reports to arrive and then the rush to get it done. For instance, the preparer called with one quick question. I was sitting in my boat fishing. Life is good.
frugaltigris
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by frugaltigris »

Myself, by hand, since first file. Will continue to do so. Have learnt a lot in process about tax code.
rustymutt
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by rustymutt »

Mine are just slightly more difficult than I want to tackle, so TurboTax has been getting me there. I value the auto download forms and information from Vanguard. Like another poster said, "you learn much from doing it with software". Just remember, bad info in, means bad info out. And the IRS is watching. Hopefully.
Even educators need education. And some can be hard headed to the point of needing time out.
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TierArtz
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by TierArtz »

I model personal (joint) taxes in Excel to ensure I'm withholding enough from pay to avoid a penalty or a refund. Any needed adjustments are made to my military pension withholding as it's all on-line and changes are implemented quickly.

I use TurboTax for preparation and filing of personal taxes.

For a family trust (farm income), we use a management company for accounting and an independent accountant to compute and file the taxes.
ubermax
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by ubermax »

Do it myself using Turbo Tax with electronic filing but I also created a spreadsheet in Excel that ties to Turbo , use the spreadsheet to estimate quarterly tax payments for the upcoming year based on our annual expected income and expense budget but also to estimate the amount to gross up IRA withdrawals during the year for ad hoc draws above budget to cover the tax on those amounts .
Last edited by ubermax on Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Workable Goblin
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Workable Goblin »

I've always used software, but since I had to file estimated taxes last year (and this year, but obviously I haven't done my 2019 tax return yet...) I also had to do a lot of work by hand, and ultimately ended up doing a hand return to double-check the software. It was very educational, so I now plan on doing the same next year.
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