How to Get a Tax Refund

On January 15, 2012, in Tax Tips, by Justin

Everyone loves a refund, but there’s just something about getting a tax refund… that’s a special kind of awesome! So the big question (especially if you’re new to the world of taxes) is: How to Get a Tax Refund? Don’t let the “big bad IRS” scare you, it’s easier than you think. If you’ve paid more money in taxes through the year than you really owe, it’s your money and you deserve a refund.

So, how do you get a tax refund? You have to jump through a few IRS hoops, which usually means gathering up all your W2′s, grabbing a calculator, rolling up your sleeves, sharpening your pencil, and getting to work crunching numbers and filling out forms. Unless, that is, you’re one of the savvy who use free tax software to do all the heavy lifting. In this day and age, there’s really no reason for you to fill out a single form by hand.

My two favorite tax programs are TurboTax and H&R Block at Home, but TaxAct, Tax Brain and others are good too. I’ve created a few separate posts on those, so read up!

All that being said, if you’re getting a tax refund what it really means is that your employer is withholding too much in taxes from your paychecks. As much fun as getting a huge tax refund is, the reality is that you gave Uncle Sam an interest-free loan for the year. There are much better uses of your money than that! Be sure to speak with your employer about reducing your withholdings.

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Tax Brain

On January 15, 2012, in Tax Software, by Justin
 

Tax Act

On January 15, 2012, in Tax Software, by Justin
 

H&R Block at Home

On January 15, 2012, in Tax Software, by Justin

H&R Block at HomeMy favorite thing about H&R Block is their options: you can visit a local office for personal attention, install their software, or prepare and file your taxes online. They give extra attention to help and support, which makes them a very close 2nd on my list for best online tax software. In fact, I kind of wish H&R Block at Home could share the #1 spot with TurboTax… but I guess that’s the nature of “Top X” lists… :)

H&R Block at Home was one of only a few online tax software products that passed all of the tests that I threw at it, fully incorporating the very latest tax law changes (tax credits, deductions, new forms, etc.). Bravo!

All types of tax filers are accommodated by H&R Block at Home, from simple 1040EZ on up to pretty complex tax returns. Like most online tax software, it will suggest and include all the tax forms, schedules and worksheets you need to meet all IRS requirements. This makes tax preparation a “no-brainer.”

 

TurboTax

On January 15, 2012, in Tax Software, by Justin

TurboTax OnlineTurboTax has become the standard for online tax software. They have earned their stellar reputation by creating the most comprehensive and easiest-to-use online tax software on the market. TurboTax has gathered together teams of tax professionals to ensure that their tax information and IRS forms reflect the most current tax laws.

Like most tax services and software, TurboTax claims to offer the fastest tax refund. Truth be told, there’s not really anything your tax software can do about getting you your refund faster. That’s completely up to the IRS. The key is in getting your info submitted to the IRS as soon as possible, which is where e-file comes in. TurboTax is set up for e-filing your tax return directly with the IRS, which means you can get your tax refund via direct deposit in as few as 7 days from when you file. That’s pretty fast! You also have the ability to monitor the status of your refund, which is helpful.

Afraid you’re going to owe money to the IRS and your state? You can rest assured that TurboTax is built from the ground up to maximize your deductions and tax credits and minimize your tax liability. If there’s a tax deduction or tax credit available, TurboTax will make sure you get everything you qualify for and supply all the proper schedules and worksheets needed by the IRS. That sort of thing can be very difficult to navigate on your own, but I found that TurboTax makes it exceedingly simple. Fun fact: the Deluxe version of TurboTax can manage over 350 tax deductions and credits. Can you do that?

This year I’ve spent a good amount of time testing the best online tax services by submitting a variety of tax scenarios, particularly some that deal with the newest tax law changes. TurboTax easily managed everything I threw at it and provided the largest refund possible.

In summary, TurboTax has been in the tax software business longer than anyone I know of and their experience shows. They have really outdone themselves and continue to go above and beyond year after year. I highly recommend you give TurboTax a try. Regardless of the complexity of your taxes, you can try all of their products for free and only pay for what you need if you choose to file your return with them. That’s a pretty sweet deal!