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E-file a simple Tax return - best simple software/SS?
Old 04-09-2016, 11:09 AM   #1
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E-file a simple Tax return - best simple software/SS?

My tax situation is now going to be pretty simple (kids are all out of the nest), just DW & myself, her simple W2 income, most (if any) trades are done in my IRA, so a simple Sched D. We itemize and have some divs, but all simple stuff. Only small complication is I will be doing ROTH conversions, but that's just a 1099R.

IMO, the tax software itself is too complex (I've been using TaxAct online, it's OK), and too expensive for my simple needs. I have to click through so much stuff, and figure out the UI for just a few simple entries. I also feel like everything is hidden from me - I want to actually see how the calculations work out. I'm looking for something that is close to just a spreadsheet, and would allow me to e-file (I do prefer that to mail), for free or low $.

Any suggestions? I've already submitted tax year 2015, this will be for 2016.

edit/add: Anyone use this?

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-D...Taxes-for-Free

Quote:
Income above $62,000: Free File Fillable Forms

Free Fillable, electronic versions of the paper forms
Must know how to do your taxes yourself
Does math; offers only basic guidance

-ERD50
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Old 04-09-2016, 02:03 PM   #2
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I did the Free, Fillable, electronic versions of the paper forms this year. A first for my federal taxes. I have a spreadsheet that I update regularly with tax info throughout the year that calculates my taxes and made sure the filled in forms had all the relevant numbers. Got my tiny refund in 2 weeks. Still waiting on my even smaller IL refund.
I filed 1040, forms A,B,D, and schedules 8949,8606,8889,8962. It all worked fine for me. I have been doing my own taxes for decades.
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Old 04-09-2016, 02:18 PM   #3
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I have been doing my own taxes for about 40 years. Most of it has been manually done. I have used TT for the last 10 years or so (mostly because it was free @ VG until recently).

TT makes it so simple that I actually look forward to the process. (Don't repeat this. I will deny it!)
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Old 04-09-2016, 02:29 PM   #4
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sounds like pink perl and #2... go back to manual forms.

One thing to be aware of is numbers embedded in old tax forms that you may need.. carry over losses, tax basis in IRAs - needed for roth conversions.
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Old 04-09-2016, 02:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I know that the IRS' 'Fre'e-File Fillable Forms is there and available to all. I steer people to it who don't mind filling out the forms themselves. It is Federal only.

If you are looking for a free Federal and State solution that includes e-file, consider DIY Taxes. Liberty provides an online solution branded as DIY Taxes at https://www.freetax.com/

I haven't actually used either.

The third free solution, which is also provided by the IRS, is to download their PDF tax forms that allow you to type in your numbers and then print them out & mail them in (ie no efile). This option has been available for at least a decade or two I think.

-gauss
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IRS forms
Old 04-09-2016, 02:47 PM   #6
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IRS forms

Very true, but if you look at the form for calculating how much of your SS is taxable, I would rather have software do it for me.
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Old 04-09-2016, 03:16 PM   #7
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Not much to add other than I helped DD with her return this morning... she had done it online using TT and I did it in TT download and we compared notes.... I saw enough ot the online version of TT to learn that I hated it.
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Old 04-09-2016, 03:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bingybear View Post
sounds like pink perl and #2... go back to manual forms.

One thing to be aware of is numbers embedded in old tax forms that you may need.. carry over losses, tax basis in IRAs - needed for roth conversions.
Well, I have been tempted to do it manually, pink pearl and #2 as you say, at least in parallel. Or the manual pdf's that were mentioned (thanks, I actually didn't know about that).

I've got a good handle on the carryover info, so I think I'll be OK there. But it is convenient that the tax programs pick that up automatically for you (but that also means I need to try to dig in to understand where it came from).

But I still like e-file, and having the arithmetic done for me is nice, so a no-frills program would still be a good thing I think.

Good suggestions so far, when things slow down on this thread, I'll pdf-print it to my 2016 tax folder for reference. Keep the tips coming please!

-ERD50
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Old 04-09-2016, 04:47 PM   #9
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TT lets you enter values directly onto the forms via its Override feature, then does the math for you. However if you use Override TT won't let you efile.
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Old 04-09-2016, 04:49 PM   #10
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TT lets you enter values directly onto the forms via its Override feature, then does the math for you. However if you use Override TT won't let you efile.
Isn't Override feature only for rare cases? Doesn't TT let you switch between form/interview mode and entering (non-calculated) entries onto forms without using Override?
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E-file a simple Tax return - best simple software/SS?
Old 04-09-2016, 09:14 PM   #11
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E-file a simple Tax return - best simple software/SS?

I just finished my 2014 amendments. I thought it was piece of cake from what I read here but I ended up using override on multiple occasions. Honestly I use TT as a calculator.
And I don't do eFile. I'm cheap.


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Old 04-10-2016, 08:20 AM   #12
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I switched from TaxAct online to OLT (OnLine Taxes) this year. It was so much easier for my situation of single, standard deduction, health insurance subsidy, interest, dividends, K-1, and a couple of brokerage transactions. None of the life event questions used by DIY Taxes and TaxAct. Federal efile is free and you can print the state return for free with the standard product. They charge for efiling the state return.

Standard product: OnLine Taxes at OLT.COM - Federal taxes Online, State Taxes Online

For AGI between $13K-$62K, both Federal & state efile are free: Federal and All State Income Tax: FreeFile Online Federal Income Tax Preparation and E-file.

OLT Review: OnLine Taxes Review 2016 | Tax Software
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by MBSC View Post
I switched from TaxAct online to OLT (OnLine Taxes) this year. It was so much easier for my situation of single, standard deduction, health insurance subsidy, interest, dividends, K-1, and a couple of brokerage transactions. None of the life event questions used by DIY Taxes and TaxAct. Federal efile is free and you can print the state return for free with the standard product. They charge for efiling the state return.

Standard product: OnLine Taxes at OLT.COM - Federal taxes Online, State Taxes Online

For AGI between $13K-$62K, both Federal & state efile are free: Federal and All State Income Tax: FreeFile Online Federal Income Tax Preparation and E-file.

OLT Review: OnLine Taxes Review 2016 | Tax Software
Interesting. OLT seems to be partially claiming the market space that TaxAct has abandoned.

I would be very interested in this, if OLT comes out with a Desktop (ie non-cloud) version of their product that I can download and install on my own pc.

Does OLT force you to use their interview process or do you have the option to just fill in forms directly?

Thanks
-gauss
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Old 04-10-2016, 09:33 AM   #14
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Does OLT force you to use their interview process or do you have the option to just fill in forms directly?
The collection of personal information at the beginning is interview style. Things such as name, address, SSN, DOB, and filing status. After that, you select the categories (interest, dividends, etc.) you want to complete and it brings up the appropriate screens in the format of the form received (1099). I do not believe you can directly enter data on Schedules B & D.

Select category screenshot: https://www.olt.com/main/home/screenshot001.asp
Then complete the form as received: https://www.olt.com/main/home/screenshot05.asp
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:19 AM   #15
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or look for an AARP TaxAide location. e-filed and no charge for Federal and State (if applicable)
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Old 04-10-2016, 11:56 AM   #16
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Switched to OLT this year for the first time, had used TaxAct for the last few years. Everything seemed to go smooth for my relatively simple tax return.
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Old 04-10-2016, 12:22 PM   #17
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I have used Free File Fillable Forms for my Federal return for four years now and am quite pleased so far. It is truly free (to both use and efile). I use the 1040 (long form) and Schedules A, B and E. I paper file my state forms.
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