What Should I Consider When Buying Tax Software?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
A W-9 form, a type of US tax form.
A W-9 form, a type of US tax form.

If you are filing taxes on your own, having tax software can mean saving yourself hours of work, but with all the options available, how do you know which one to choose? Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing the right tax software for your needs.

  • Is your PC up to date? Most tax software that is up to date requires a modern processor with at least 16 MB of RAM and 50 MB of hard disk space. It also requires a CD drive; if you are sending your taxes in, you will also need a printer, if you are e-filing, you will need an Internet connection.

  • How much do you know about taxes? If you are a beginner, this is your first time filing, or you simply hate the process, then you need tax software that can take most of the burden away from you. TaxCut® and Turbo Tax® are the main choices for people who do not want to learn about tax laws but still need to file itemized returns with detailed deductions. Some programs include a preliminary interview to help you through the process. At a minimum, make sure the instructions are easy to follow.

  • Which features are offered in the tax software? Will the program check for errors? Are there screenshots to help you navigate through the process? What about a toll-free number for help and support? Does the manufacturer stand behind the software when it comes to accuracy? Look for tax software that offers search capabilities, data import, and tax tips.

  • Do you need the basic or the deluxe version? Most companies have at least two versions of their tax software. The basic is enough for most people, and it covers both state and federal taxes; the deluxe version is a must for people who own a small business or need more counsel than a simple Form C could cover.

  • Do you know somebody who has used tax software before? If so, ask them which program they used and how it worked for them. When in doubt, choose well-known brands like TaxCut® and Turbo Tax®, which have been around for years.

The right tax software should make the whole process of filing much easier. If you find yourself struggling, then maybe you need to consider expert help rather than resigning yourself to do everything on your own.

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    • A W-9 form, a type of US tax form.
      A W-9 form, a type of US tax form.