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seekingwolf's avatar

What service should I use for filing taxes? (first timer)

Asked by seekingwolf (9734 points ) January 14th, 2013

I’m totally new to this. I want to use a service, not do it myself completely. Something like turbo tax would be cool. I have NOTHING withheld from my taxes right now.

-I live on my own so not a dependent. I live with my boyfriend.
-no kids
-adopted a shelter cat this year
-have done a couple classes part time
-no scholarships
-work full time, making $12/hour in a hospital
-I have no side jobs or other income
-I do have health insurance and I’m putting a little of each paycheck into a 401k.

Any thoughts? I’m totally new to this. Should be getting my W-2 in the mail soon.

I want to do it the cheapest possible way.

Also, what about state taxes? I live in NY. Should I file for a refund on those too?

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15 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

With as simple a return as you appear to have, that is, with no mortgage or student loan or other deductible interest (is student loan interest even tax deductible?) and no other extraordinary income or deduction scenarios, yours is one of the millions of tax returns that can be prepared on the back of a post card, which is the intent and purpose of the 1040-EZ form.

Any service at all should be satisfactory for the preparation of this return (including the paper 1040-EZ). It’s really a matter of which one you prefer, based on ease of use, user interface and/or cost.

The cheapest way would absolutely be the 1040-EZ, which you can pick up at any Post Office.

My returns are generally pretty complicated in one way or another, and I’ve been using TurboTax almost exclusively for the past 15 years or more. I like TurboTax a lot.

PS: The IRS doesn’t care a bit – not one iota – for your cat. But I hope you enjoy its company. See, I care!

CWOTUS's avatar

Oh, and yes, you must definitely file in New York State as well. Whether you get a refund or not will depend on the withholdings and your total income, but you have to have the return on file in any case.

seekingwolf's avatar

Yeah I have no debt… No mortgage, no CC debt, no student loan debt. I could use that form. I’m just worried I’ll fill it out wrong.
Two questions:

1) how do I file state taxes? Same thing, post office? Or should I just make it easier and do it through TurboTax?

2) Do you think I’ll get most of my money back? I haven’t done this before. I make so little. I’m looking to invest in a good set of summer tires come spring for my car. My other ones are scary thin. I hope I’ll have enough!

I have zero withholdings. At least $225 is taken from each paycheck. So $500ish a month. It kinda sucks. I want my tires!

CWOTUS's avatar

Having no idea what your total income was (it doesn’t matter how much you make per hour, after all, if you work less than full time), it’s hard to say “you’ll get everything back”, but if you fill out the form honestly (and correctly, but it’s a pretty simple form! I doubt that you’ll have much problem with it), then you’ll get everything back that you should get back.

My strong recommendation to anyone who is starting their working / taxpaying career (and congratulations to you for doing that!) is “compute your W-4 as carefully as you can to have the least tax withheld – within the limits of the law – throughout the year.

You’ll end up having to pay tax at the end of the year (hopefully!), but it shouldn’t be much: under $100 or so. And you’ll have the benefit of knowing that no one else is holding money that should be yours; you won’t have to wait for it; you won’t have given an interest-free loan to the US government for 9–12 months or more. As you get more experienced at this, you may get to my ideal state: filing a tax return a week or two before it’s due and owing about $25 – $50, total. That makes paying the extra tax pretty easy to do, as well.

And then learn to live – and live well – within your take-home income, and save some so that paying your nominal tax bill at the end of the year isn’t a huge headache, and you’ll start to build an additional nest egg next to the 401(k). (Congratulations on having the sense to do that, too.)

I expect that NY tax forms are also available at the Post Office. Libraries and town halls are good places to look, as well.

TuboTax is definitely “easy”. I suspect that in your case it is also unnecessary. The program itself (especially if you buy it with the state tax adder) costs around $45 or so. TurboTax may offer a “free online” tax prep to introduce new users to the system, so definitely give that a look. But I think that their software, good as it is, offers a lot more to its purchasers than you really need. Your return should be quite simple.

seekingwolf's avatar

Thank you so much for your help.

I think once I get my refund back, I’ll do my w-4 accordingly. It would be nice to have more take home pay but honestly, I’ve learned to live okay on $750 every two weeks. My boyfriend does have a job and contributes equally. Things like our cars needing $500 repairs has not sunk us that much. I feel like I’m at a point where I want for nothing and I am okay with the things I have. So my refund will just go into savings and I want to use some of it for new tires.

I like the idea of getting good at it so I don’t owe much at the end and can keep a lot of my money!

Thanks again for your help. I think I’m just going to file the old fashioned way since it’s free. At least for NY I think there is no filing fee for state taxes.

jhall_3rd's avatar

I’m liking Turbo Tax.

tedibear's avatar

@seekingwolf do what @CWOTUS says about your withholding for 2013. If you’re getting a refund, you’re letting the government hold your money for the year without paying you interest. You can put that money in the bank/credit union into an interest bearing account. You won’t earn a lot, but do you really want to give the federal government an interest free loan?

As for your state taxes, you will probably end up paying something. I remember those days in NY and my friends tell me it hasn’t changed. (Ohio is the same way. We always owe them a couple of hundred dollars.)

elbanditoroso's avatar

Easiest and nice wizard interface; taxslayer.com

seekingwolf's avatar

Why would I owe NY anything? I have state taxes taken out each pay period.

Pachy's avatar

I’m sure you’ll fill out the form correctly, but if you do happen to file with any mistakes, IRS will simply contact you by letter, note the error and ask for further info. This happens to everybody. You won’t be penalized in any way, so don’t over-stress about this. And just think—once you’ve done it this first time, you’ll know exactly how to do it next time. ;-)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@seekingwolf NY’s taxes are the most screwed up ever. The tax starts at the first $100 of wages, but the withholding tables don’t start until the first $105 of earnings. Try to figure that out.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

My wife and I have been pleased with RG Brenner in NYC.

Though I believe it will soon be even simpler to just mail the Fed a check for every penny we’ve earned.

seekingwolf's avatar

Well I guess that’s NY for you. :P
Hopefully I don’t owe them too much.

Just waiting for my W-2 now.

2davidc8's avatar

There are volunteer organizations that have trained tax preparers who will prepare your tax return for free. Look up Earn It Keep It Save It.
I understand that their tax preparation service is free if your income is $51,000 or less, and your return is relatively simple.
Also, AARP has a free tax preparation service. You don’t have to be over age 55, or even retired, and there are no income limits. There are some limits as to the complexity of your tax return, but it sounds like your tax situation would be well within their scope.
Finally, as noted above, you can do your own taxes online through some websites such Tax Slayer, Tax Brain, Tax Act, etc. Even the TurboTax site. The usual limitation is that your tax situation must be relatively simple, and often they will file the Federal return for free, then you have to pay a nominal fee (around $20) to file the state return. Just Google “free tax preparation”.
You can also search for free tax preparation sites through the IRS’s own website, www.irs.gov.

sclark's avatar

If you have paid on your student loans they may be tax deductible. I usually send in a form that shows the money I have spent on mine. I also found this article to be helpful. http://www.fatwallet.com/blog/making-tax-season-easy/ Good luck!

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