With the Paschal moon hanging above us, thus signaling the beginning of Passover, the US tax filing deadline also hangs above us.
Like I’ve done for the last few years, I procrastinated until the last minute to file because I regularly have to send checks to both the federal and state governments. One of the many inequities of the American tax system is that someone who cobbles together a living from multiple sources usually has to pay when he or she files. When I start collecting a stack of W2s and the occasional 1099 in February, I start dreading preparing my tax return because I know I’m writing some big checks in April.
In years past, I usually either do my taxes on paper by hand or send them to an accountant. This year, I was short on time and money so I resorted to tax software.
Based on the recommendation from The Wirecutter’s Kevin Purdy, I went with the horribly named FreeTaxUSA. When I told one friend what I used to prepare my taxes, she joking asked, “Do they also offer check cashing and pay-day loans?”
Purdy’s article recommended three software packages: TurboTax for most everyone, TaxACT for people with more time and more complex situations, and FreeTaxUSA for experienced tax filers. Since I started working multiple jobs, I have learned as much as I can to optimize my tax situation, and I really didn’t need to answer questions about specific “life events.” I simply needed to report a bunch of numbers and calculate the allowable deductions. This was also very cheap: $13 for filing both a federal and state return, regardless of income.
Try it if this sounds like your approach to preparing your income tax returns.