Tax season is upon us once again, and for many Americans, it can be a particularly migraine-inducing time of year.
In just a few weeks’ time you went from shopping for fun gifts to scrambling for receipts.
Taxes can be tricky for any household, but the waters can get even murkier for Virtual Business Owners, or freelancers who work from home.
Fortunately, there are top-notch tools available to help you file with ease.
And, you don’t need to do the work of hunting them down yourself.
VBO Nation is here to give you the top five resources you can use to make your 2019 tax season stress-free.
When it comes to personal tax preparation software, TurboTax is often the first that comes to mind, and with good reason.
TurboTax boasts a beautiful interface that’s easy to navigate.
The interface features a simple Q&A format that’s reminiscent of sitting down with a CPA.
Through a series of easy-to-follow questions, TurboTax compiles information and fills in your return, taking all of the turbulence out of your taxes.
If you need some human help along the way, TurboTax Live has you covered.
You’ll get a review with a CPA before you file, and the ‘SmartLook’ feature provides a one-on-one interaction with a tax expert who can answer any questions you may have.
Keep in mind that TurboTax is a premium product and it’s priced accordingly, so be prepared to spend about $80 to start.
Also, expect to spend more for protection and representation in the event of an audit.
- H&R Block
H&R Block is a trusted authority on filing tax returns, and their tax prep software also features a Q&A format for easy navigation.
What sets H&R Block apart from other tax preparation resources is the level of support available to users.
Their new ‘Ask a Tax Pro’ feature offers unlimited and on-demand chat with one of the block’s most tenured and trusted tax professionals.
You can also have your return reviewed by a tax pro for accuracy, and they can sign and file your return electronically on your behalf.
These features aren’t free, but packages start at $49.99, making them more affordable than some of the other options on the market.
And, considering their unmatched support, it also helps to know that you can visit a brick-and-mortar location should you need more assistance.
- TaxAct Premium
If you’re motivated by price transparency and stability, TaxAct Premium may be the right choice for you.
You’ll know what you’re paying right from the start – just $34.95, not including state returns – and that price won’t change the closer you get to the tax deadline.
Though TaxAct doesn’t offer some of the premium features that its competitors do, it can handle all of the essentials including returns for people who work from home and those with investment income.
The web-based tool has a feature called Live Events that helps you clearly identify situations that can impact your taxes – things like getting married, having a baby, or buying a home.
You can click one of 19 icons for tips and guidance about how to navigate your tax return.
Considering support, TaxAct offers in-app email, a screen-share option with an agent, and a wide-ranging TaxTutor Guidance Center.
Because this is a budget-friendly option, there are some features you’ll miss out on including the option to import your W-2s (which isn’t an issue for most people who work from home).
And there isn’t much TaxAct can do for you if you’re audited.
TaxSlayer is a web-based filing option that can be accessed from any device.
It’s efficient and affordable with packages starting at just $17.
You will pay extra to file your state returns, but it’s still cheaper than what some competitors are offering.
And, TaxSlayer also offers an inexpensive version for self-employed people too.
What sets it apart from the pack is the Quick File option.
If spending hours on your return is anathema to you, then TaxSlayer may be your best bet.
The Quick File feature lets you navigate through the parts of your return with a user-friendly keyword-search.
Still, if you’d rather follow a prescribed chronological order to complete your return, TaxSlayer’s ‘Guide Me’ option is there.
Support is available by email, online chat or phone call.
- Work-From-Home Tax Preparers
If you work from home, you may have specific tax preparation needs that just can’t be met with automated software.
Why not consider using a VBO tax-preparer to help you straighten your return out.
Always be sure to ask for credentials and the Preparer Tax Identification Number.
Hiring a tax preparer will likely cost you more than a software package, but there are several benefits to working with a tax-preparer one-on-one.
For starters, filing your own taxes can eat up a lot of your time.
And perhaps even more so for VBOs, time is money.
A tax preparer can also help you find deductions and credits or mistakes that might be missed using one of the above tax prep tools.
A tax preparer is invaluable in the event that you’re audited.
And the biggest appeal is sheer convenience.
A VBO tax preparer will help you navigate the entire process, answer your questions on the spot, and file your return for you.
Based on your business circumstances and desires, any one of these five return-filing resources may work well for you this tax season.
They’re all great options to file your tax return easily and quickly.
These resources can help eliminate much of the stress and worry from the filing process, making this tax season something to smile about.