The Grass is Green
Now it is time
To cut out your Spleen.
* * * * *
This describes how I feel about spring in general, nasty stuff. But then you add taxes to the mix and it gets worse.
I’ve done my own taxes since I had my first real job at age 16. My tax situation now (married, filing jointly, self-employed) has gotten a little more complex, but with the help of tax software, I’ve managed to survive, spleen intact.
Now, before you place implicit trust in me and my tax advice, here is a disclaimer: I am not a tax professional. I stab myself in the eye when forced to do too many mathematical equations. I do not have a degree in accounting. These are practical tips, meant as a starting point for you if you feel brave enough to do your own taxes. If you really feel like cutting out your spleen (what good are they anyway?), consult a professional.
- Gather all relevant documents in one place. I keep a filefolder and as we receive 1099s, 1098s, W2s, and I throw in anything else that looks formal and tax-like. This includes your end-of-year tithing settlement document. Charitable donations are big! Make sure you use that to get some of your money back from Uncle Sam.
- Find a software that you are comfortable with, and that will do all the mathematical work for you. Tax filing software basically reduces taxes to data entry. I can’t do complicated math, or understand an over 3,000 pages-long tax code. But I can handle data entry and most yes or no questions.
- Check out the IRS Free File web page. If your Adjusted Gross Income is less than $57,000, then you can file for free using online tax software!!! I have used Turbo Tax (it has a nice sense of humor and a great FAQ section) and H&R Block’s Tax Cut (it has a great help section and walks me through everything.) You don’t have to physically buy a disk, you can use it over the internet on a secure connection. With both of these programs you pay at the end (if you don’t qualify for the free file).
- I once felt the urge to torture myself by filling out two returns on two different programs, but they churned out the exact same amount owed. E-file is usually included in the price and there is an option to include state filing for an extra charge.
- Do what the software tells you. If you are unsure about something, ask the company or find some relative that has tax knowledge and pump them for information. If you still feel nervous, call an accountant and pay them to do your taxes.
- Efile! Efile! You’ll get your return much faster, or if you owe taxes, you will have it out of your hair sooner.
- If you qualify for the free file, before paying for the State file, check out your state tax commission website. If you live in Utah, they have a free filing system (for those under a certain income) and your state might too.
Stephanie hopes to one day go pro, but for now she’s working at becoming the best amateur wife, mother, runner and writer she can be. Sometimes she pretends she is a cook and a crafter as well. The cooking usually ends well, but the crafting always involves injuries and perhaps some cursing.
Her accomplishments include winning the minutes-read contest in first grade and taking second place in a spelling bee in eighth grade. She is also good at test taking, a skill that has proven absolutely useless in her current role as a wife of one Mike and a mother of two girls, four and two years old.
She currently enjoys freelancing for the Ogden Standard-Examiner, singing children’s songs with too much vibrato, and imagining a plot for a bestselling novel tentatively titled “Susan Plotter and the Cup of Hot Coals.”
When she’s not pregnant, which she currently is, due in June, she will try to kick your butt in running. Otherwise, she is very humble, unless you bring up her successful spelling career.