Friday, April 13, 2007

Taxes are Due Monday: What are the Best Filing Options This Late in the Game?

Taxes are due Monday and if you are lucky you have already filed them. If you are one of the millions of procrastinators waiting to do your taxes this weekend then the Armchair Fiduciary is here to help. At this point your best bet has become online software. What kind of software you will need likely depends on how complicated your return is.

For simple returns (e.g. a W-2, some bank interest, a mortgage, and a couple of mutual funds) I would look at Tax Act Deluxe which includes free phone support and state tax returns for only $15.95. It will be able to get the job done fairly quickly and painlessly at a great price.

For more complicated returns (e.g. you are self-employed, have a partnership or two, a mortgage, a brokerage account with some trades, and some charitable deductions) you probably want to step it up to TurboTax Premier ($75 + $35 for state taxes) or TurboTax Home & Business ($100 if you need to file schedule C + $35 for state taxes).

I personally face the mess of multiple W-2s, a small business my wife runs, multiple properties with mortgages including one rental, and multiple partnerships. While TurboTax could probably get the job done for me, I chose to go to a professional so he can help me minimize my tax bill and walk me through my first audit, which will undoubtedly happen sooner or later. The price is expensive (up to $1000), but I am pretty confident my accountant saved me at least that much this year. When it comes to taxes and getting good advice about how to be sure you don't pay a penny more than required by law, I feel like this is money well spent. If you do choose to go the in-person route, I would be sure to go to a good private CPA and NOT to H&R Block or Liberty Tax or any of those other chain shops, as chances are they will just be using software similar in functionality to the software mentioned above and charge you more. Chances are a good private accountant won't take you on this late in the game, so use one of the packages above for this year and starting looking for a good accountant next week.