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TurboTax Online Review (and Giveaway)

With tax season upon a us, I wanted to go ahead and share how we take care of our own. We’ve been using TurboTax to handle our family’s tax needs for the last couple of years and we’ve been very happy with them.

When we started our taxes this year, I noticed that there have been quite a few upgrades and updates with the system. It’s made the process much easier and the Home Base is a handy way to have a snapshot of everything. For those who are still confused about The Affordable Care Act, TurboTax has created a guide to help them see their numbers.

Getting Started with TurboTax

Since we’ve used TurboTax before, when we logged into our account to get started, the program already had much of our basic information (such as name, address, and jobs) entered, savings us time. As part of their update, when we logged in TurboTax checked to make sure our browser was compatible, even providing links to give us the latest installation.

Between my husband’s work, my business, and our savings and investments, we usually accumulate a small stack of paperwork. To keep things manageable, I enter into the system as we get them through the mail, including:

  • W-2s from your job(s)
  • 1099-DIV: Dividends
  • 1099-INT: Interest Income
  • 1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income

Once we complete our federal, TurboTax can easily transfer our information from the federal tax return to our state’s return.

Finding Tax Deductions and Credits with TurboTax

Tax deductions and credits are the most wonderful things. Tax deductions help lower your taxable income while credits lower your actual bill. TurboTax really combs through the all the possible deductions and credits for your return including your house, family, cars, charitable donations, medical expenses, college and education, and more.
TurboTax - Choose Easy

Which Turbo Tax Edition Fits You?

While Home & Business is the best fit for us, it isn’t the only online edition TurboTax has available. There are several different editions that you can choose from based on your family’s particular needs.

  • Free Edition: If you’re one of the almost 60 million Americans who qualify for a 1040EZ/A, TurboTax’s free edition is a wonderful options as they’ve made the filing process even easier.
  • Deluxe: Many people will find this a suitable option to take care of their tax deductions and credits for families and homeowners.
  • Premier: This edition is designed for those who have numerous investments or if you own rental properties.
  • Home & Business: Entrepreneurs with either sole proprietor, consultant, contractor or single-owner LLC business will find this edition more than capable of handling their business.
  • Business: If you have a corporation, partnership or multi-member LLC, TurboTax can help you optimize your tax return.

We’ve been happy with TurboTax and how easy it is for us to file using their services. Find out which edition of TurboTax is right for you.

TurboTax Giveaway- File Your Federally Taxes for Free!

Now to the best part – Couple Money, My Financial Reviews, and TurboTax would like you to file your federal taxes for free. I am giving away codes for TurboTax’s premier edition for interested readers. To enter, it’s simple – just let me know what you plan to do with either your tax refund if you’re expecting one or how you plan on saving on your taxes this upcoming year.

You can either leave a comment below, tweet me, or share your plans on Facebook.  I’ll compile the entries and pick winners this upcoming Monday (February 3, 2014) so you can get your taxes filed and done as soon as possible. If you know someone who would love a chance to get their federal taxes filed for free, please send them a link to the giveaway through email or share this on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you again for being a part of the Couple Money Community!

Since TurboTax has been kind enough to sponsor the prizes, please feel free to send them a tweet if you win ;)

Thoughts on Filing Taxes Online

How are you filing your taxes this year? Are you expecting a refund or do you owe taxes?

Disclaimer: I’m also a contributing blogger at TurboTax, so please check them out to see if they can help you with your taxes this year.

Photo Credit: 401K

Paying Estimated Taxes This Week

It’s a beautiful morning and I’m in my home office double checking the numbers. What fun! Seriously I’m spending an hour out of my day to make sure my estimated taxes for the first quarter in 2013 are paid for both North Carolina and federal government.

If you haven’t already sent in your payments you have until next week to get them submitted.

Why Pay Estimated Taxes?

While paying taxes isn’t my idea of fun, it’s a responsibility that I have as a self-employed person. According the IRS:

Estimated tax is used to pay both income tax and self-employment tax, as well as other taxes and amounts reported on your tax return. If you do not pay enough through withholding or estimated tax payments, you may be charged a penalty. If you do not pay enough by the due date of each payment period you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your tax return.

Since I don’t have an employer that withholds my income from work, I have do this myself. Fortunately paying my taxes is a fairly quick process once I’ve done the math. I pay online through Electronic Federal Tax Payment System and North Carolina’s own site.

While they are sometimes referred to as quarterly taxes, the due dates don’t always line up as such. In general estimated taxes are due 4 times a year:

  • January 15th – for the previous year’s 4th quarter
  • April 15th
  • June 15th
  • September 15th

Looking at the calender for 2013, the upcoming due dates are:

  • Monday April 15th
  • Monday June 17th
  • Monday September 16th
  • Wednesday January 15th, 2014

Payment Methods for Estimated Taxes

If this is the first time, you’re paying your estimated taxes, there are several ways to handle it.

  • Mail- Check the IRS to see which location is correct one for you.
  • Phone – Electronic Federal Tax Payment System has phone lines to take your payments
    • 1-800-316-6541(individuals)
    • 1-800-555-4477 (businesses)
  • Online -Electronic Federal Tax Payment System

I personally prefer to pay online as it’s quick, free, and easy.

Thoughts on Quarterly Taxes

How many of you have already taken care of your estimated taxes for the first quarter? How’s business going this year?

Photo Credit: 401k

Coming Up with a Plan for Our Tax Refund

Guess what I did this morning? Hint – it’s about finances ;)  I was checking the IRS’ website to see when to expect our tax refund. Good times! It looks like we should be receiving it soon. (By the way if you e-filed your tax return, please keep in mind  your refund should be sent to you within 14 – 21 days.)

In years past, we’ve used the money to pay down our mortgage, beefed up family savings, and contributed to the car fund. All in all, we’ve been happy with our decisions. Now, though, we have a situation where we have no pressing expenses coming up that we need to cover and our debts are both low interest. So my husband and I are discussing what to do this year with our tax refund.

Tax Refunds – Oh The Possibilities….

Besides paying down the student loan and shaving off even more time on it, there are a few other options that we are thinking about. Before we sit down tonight and weigh the pros and cons of certain choices, I want to list out the possibilities.

  • Pay down the student loan. This is one of our major goals for the year. While we won’t see any immediate change in our monthly cash flow, getting rid of this debt would help us move closer towards our long  term goal of becoming financially independent.
  • Pump off the savings account. You may wonder why we would want to put more money into savings – after all we have a buffer already set up. The main reason we’d like to have some extra cash in the account is that we are thinking about selling the townhouse. Our development is finishing up and the only other spot in our area that has new homes building has a selling price that starts about $50k higher than our neighborhood. Depending on how things look, we may try to sell our place and get a house closer to my husband’s job. If we do go down that route we’d need some cash to cover the sale. On the other, this is a potential situation and the money could be used for other goals.
  • Invest it. We could take all or part of that money and just contribute it into one or both IRAs. It would be an easy way to bump up retirement savings.
  • Buying an entertainment center. Picking up an entertainment center has been on our minds for quite a bit. We’ve put it off since it isn’t a need and we had other goals we felt were bigger priorities. Now that out little girl is a curious toddler and getting into everything, there is an element of practicality in acquiring an entertainment center that has not only more storage, but don’t we can lock. She has a great habit of getting into our stuff and our current TV stand has done nothing to slow her down.

Writing this list out actually has helped me to lean towards putting most of the money into paying down that pesky student loan and then getting an entertainment center. However, I’m just one half of the couple, so we must see what HE thinks too ;) I have a feeling it will be something similar to what I’ve mentioned, but my husband may have another plan in mind.

Thoughts on Using Tax Refunds

I’d love to get your feedback and your stories. Have you received a tax refund this year? How have you two used it? What was the best way you’ve spent this year’s or a previous year’s refund?

Photo Credit: David Reber’s Hammer Photography

TurboTax Online Review (and Giveaway!)

We just finished our taxes this year and once again we use TurboTax online. One thing that I love about using TurboTax online is that I can get our paperwork entered in as it comes in the mail during the short naps our baby girls seems to prefer. We can do a bi, save our work, and come back later with no problems.

Making Taxes Easy

Since we’ve used TurboTax before, when we logged into our account to get our taxes started, the program already had much of our basic information (such as name, address, and jobs)  in. It was a matter of adjusting some details, the biggest one was becoming parents last year.

I’ve found TurboTax extremely easy to use with its interview approach to getting information in for your taxes. It’s a completely guided walk through – the questions were clear and getting the data entered was quick

Getting the Paperwork in Was a Snap

Being self-employed, some may think it took a lot of time to get all the information into the program, but it was a snap with TurboTax. I have some clients that I had last year so importing that data was very easy.

Getting our income and expenses done was straightforward, most of the paperwork came in around the same time:

  • W-2s from your job(s)
  • 1099-DIV: Dividends
  • 1099-INT: Interest Income
  • 1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income

Most of our expected forms have already came in, but I’m still waiting on a couple more 1099s to arrive so we can finish it up. Once we complete our federal, TurboTax can easily transfer our information from the federal tax return to my state’s return.

TurboTax Scours To Find Tax Deductions and Credit You Qualify For

TurboTax really combs through the all the possible deductions and credits for your return including your house, family, cars, charitable donations, medical expenses, college and education, and more.

Tax deductions reduce your taxable income, not the tax burden that you owe. Tax credits lower your tax bill.

TurboTax’s Community – Handy Resource for Your Questions

Turbo Tax did a great job creating and managing the Live Community. It’s a wonderful resource that allows you to get the answer you need on many common tax questions. Tax experts are moderators, checking to make sure the answers are correct so you’re given up to date information.

We had to use it a few years ago when we were looking to take the homeowners’ tax credit. It was so easy to find our answer and we were able to go ahead and file properly.

Which Turbo Tax Edition Fits You?

While Home & Business is the best fit for us, it isn’t the only online edition TurboTax has available. Here are some quick descriptions to help you decide on which edition will fit your needs.

  • Free Edition: If you have a very simple tax return to file, TurboTax Free Edition is the way to go.turbotax deluxe edition giveaway
  • Deluxe: Many people will find this a suitable option to take care of their tax deductions and credits for families and homeowners.
  • Premier: This edition is designed for those who have numerous investments or if you own rental properties.
  • Home & Business: Entrepreneurs with either sole proprietor, consultant, contractor or single-owner LLC business will find this edition more than capable of handling their business.
  • Business: If you have a corporation, partnership or multi-member LLC, TurboTax can help you optimize your tax return.

We’ve been happy with TurboTax and how easy it is for us to file using their services. If you’re looking for an easy online solution for your taxes, please check out TurboTax.

2013 TurboTax Deluxe Giveaway

Now to the best part – Couple Money would like you to get your federal taxes filed for free. I am giving away a code to complete and file your taxes for TurboTax’s Premier Edition. Starting today, you can share your plans for your taxes on twitter or Facebook (see below for details and entries).  If you’re already a Couple Money subscriber you’ve already received 5 free entries. It’s one of the perks of being in the community.

The contest ends February 22, 2013 (11:59 PM Eastern). I’ll be drawing the winner on February 23, 2012 and will contact him or her.  If chosen, please claim your prize by Thursday February 28, 2013.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I’m paying for my own tax preparation and the giveaway copy is provided by TurboTax, so if you win, please tweet them a thank you :) I’m also a contributing blogger at TurboTax, so please check them out to see if they can help you with your taxes this year.

Photo Credit: 401K and Intuit

Tax Deductions That Would Never Fly

tax deductions and paperwork

The IRS approves crazy tax deductions all the time, about as often as they reject ridiculous deductions, but that’s often after much scrutiny and investigation. Whether it’s depreciation for surgical implants or cat food or bariatric surgery, it’s often very difficult to predict whether or not a tax deduction will be allowed. Fortunately, we can scour the rulings to find a few deductions that seem reasonable but are certainly not allowed.

Uniforms

If you wear a uniform for work and are required to purchase it yourself, you can deduct it as an unreimbursed employee expense on Schedule A of your Form 1040. The exceptions to this rule are if your uniform is not suitable for everyday use and it is not a military uniform, if you are on full-time active duty. Where you run into problems is when people start claiming underwear, hats, shoes, and undershirts. If you can wear it every day, as is the case with undergarments, it is not a legitimate deduction.

Some Donations

Not all donations are considered charitable donations. If you participated in a donation program over the holidays where you gave items directly to families, that’s not a donation you can claim on your taxes because the families, despite their need, are not 501(c)(3) organizations. If you made a sperm or egg donation, those are not considered charitable donations either. In fact, if you were paid, as is often the case with egg donation, that’s income you need to declare for tax purposes.

Education

Education is one of the most well reimbursed sectors in the tax code, with a litany of deductions and credits for education expenses. The problem is that not all educational institutions are created equal and classes from the Church of Scientology aren’t the same as classes at Stanford University. To be safe, make sure the classes are at an accredited institution and meet all the requirements of the deduction or credit you will claim.

Business Expenses

Most of the ridiculous deductions involve claimed expenses. While this won’t apply for your typical taxpayer, it does teach one important lesson – if the deduction doesn’t sound right, it’s probably not legitimate. Claiming a fish tank when you’re a stock broker, gifts when you’re a public defender, and nail polish for a tax preparer all sound fishy!

This guest post is from Jim at Bargaineering.

Photo Credit