Monday, January 21, 2008

#162 - A Taxing Issue

Filing My Tax Returns Digitally

The taxman cometh, folks. Are you ready?

I am. Or I'm getting there, I should say. This, sadly, is one of my favorite winter time activities. Adding machines, receipts, mileage records. Throw in a dash of creative expense reporting and a couple bottles of cider? Ahhh, good times, my friends, good times.

But as fun as this this geeky numberfest can be, it can also result in a disturbingly large amount of copy paper being used. Because, despite what my sister thinks, you can't just draw a big, red X through a 1040 to indicate that you didn't make any money. If there's one thing the government likes, it's backup - a paper trail (unless it's their own paper trail. In that case, they prefer deleted emails and "lost files"). But never fear, my fellow green mathletes, I have a solution that will appeal to your inner-nerd. It is online filing.

Did you know you don't have to pay a fancy-shmancy software company to e-file? No sir, if you qualify, you can take advantage of free online filing service from a number of reputable (or at least IRS-approved) companies. Of course, if you're well-compensated or if your tax situation is complex (like mine, with home businesses and lots of itemized deductions) you'll likely have to pay at least a small fee. But here's a list that should help you find an online filing service that suits your needs:

Free-File -A listing of free filing services offered by the various companies to anyone whose 2007 gross income was less than $54,000

Turbo Tax - An online tax filing program, costs between Free (no itemization) - $74.95 (this is what Burbanmom uses, and has for years)

H&R Block - An online tax filing program, costs between $14.95 - $44.95

TaxAct - An online tax filing program, costs between Free (no itemization) - $16.95

Now, this won't necessarily make your tax return a 100% paper-free project (due to my tax situation, I STILL have to mail some stuff in), but e-filing will definitely cut down on the amount of paper used. Plus, if you're getting a refund, it will arrive a hell of a lot sooner!

Not to mention that e-filing increases your geek factor about ten-fold. Which is always cool. So go put on your bifocals and let's get crunchin'!


Well I tell you what, I'm going to take another interwebbie leap of faith this year and NOT print out a copy of the tax forms for my own records. Instead, I will download a copy to my harddrive and trust that TurboTax will still be in business, should I ever need access to the information (they keep all your data and it's all accessible online). I'm also going to look through the PDF file and print only the sheets that need to be mailed in - NOT all the idiotic worksheets and instructions.

Skipping all this printing will save me 43 sheets of paper. If all the other Schedule C Filers in America did this, it would save over nearly ONE MILLION REAMS of paper!

Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5

It's taxes. Not as hard as brain surgery, but not as easy as pickin' a booger either.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Good for you! I think you'll find it a lot easier and (dare I say it) MORE fun! LOL! I guess I have an inner geek too. I would suggest that you save a copy of your return to disk (floppy, CD, or whatever) just in case since we had a meltdown and lost our returns one year. I was a total pain having to redo the prior year in order to file the current year. (Isn't it wonderful that you can be taxed on your tax return?)Have fun!