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How do I Choose the Best Tax Return Software?

Article Details
  • Written By: A.E. Freeman
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Using tax return software can take some of the sting out of doing your taxes. The best tax return software promises to be accurate. It should be able to handle the type of return you are filing, whether it is a complicated 1040 or the very simple 1040EZ. It should also be clear, easy to understand, and written so that a normal person can use it. An ideal tax return software will help you find all the deductions you are eligible for and will work to get you the best refund or the lowest tax rate. If you have to file a state return as well, look for a program that handles both federal and state returns.

As you are giving the responsibility for calculating your income and tax amounts to the software, you have to make sure it has some guarantee of accuracy. A few software programs guarantee that the numbers will come out correctly. A few even promise to provide you with support if your return ends up being audited by the IRS.

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The type of tax return software you choose should be able to meet your needs. A few programs are not designed to handle the taxes of self-employed filers and may not be able to assist you with completing a Schedule C or deducting home office expenses. If you are self-employed, you should look for a deluxe software program that promises to walk you through the Schedule C clearly. Your tax return software should also be able to calculate any other schedules you'll need to complete when filing.

Cost is another factor to consider when choosing the best tax return software. More complicated returns usually require more complicated software. Some products are available free of charge if you earn less than a certain amount of money or are only filing a simple return, such as the 1040EZ or 1040A.

Tax software usually comes as a program you install directly on your computer or as an online program. You may not like the idea of storing your private tax information online and may want a program that stores the data on your computer. The type of computer you use also determines the type of software you can choose. Some programs work only on PCs and won't operate on Macs.

The language of the software program is very important as well. Unless you minored in accounting or are very well versed in IRS lingo, you should look for a program that uses plain English to describe the process.

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