First time e-filing! Over and done.

February 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm (taxes)

Wow. I just finished doing my taxes. It was relatively painless, almost (dare I say it) fun. I have to admit that I’ve always done paper taxes, and always gotten it wrong. I’d send off my return, and then a check would show up for several hundred dollars more than I had expected. And I never really understood why.

This year, for the first time, I decided to use a tax software program – TurboTax’s free online e-filing. This was partially due to seeing lots of other pf bloggers talk about it. So I checked it out and decided to trust them with my personal information. I still wasn’t convinced – I went through the motions of filling out all the forms, data entry, and answering questions. It determined which form I needed to use (1040A rather than the 1040 I tried filling out myself). It gave me a tax refund number. Then it asked me to confirm my identity with the IRS since this would be my first e-filing attempt. My last year’s return is bundled up in my file drawers which are still wrapped up in the basement since our fall move. It wasn’t super easy to access, and I wasn’t completely sure about the electronic portion – did I still have to send forms in? Maybe I wanted to keep 100% control and do it myself, still, and use TurboTax’s results as a guide to make sure I got the numbers right.

Well, I filled out the form manually and found out how unclear some of it all is. I doubted my entries over and over. I read page 26, 32 and 47 of the instruction booklet (I made those numbers up for this post, by the way). I finished and my return was much less than TurboTax’s. I must have done something wrong. Turns out that I didn’t know about the Making Work Pay refund ($400!) or anything about Schedule M.

So I decided to just go for it and e-file. I found last year’s tax return, submitted one number, entered my bank info, and I was good to go. Easy, done, and whew! No wondering if it will get lost in the mail, ID theft, or long delays. Plus, I feel confident that I entered everything correctly, and didn’t miss out.

I fit into the category for free e-filing. My income is less than $57K, I don’t own a home, didn’t buy a car this year, and was not a student. Pretty basic. Even if I didn’t, I still feel like it might be worth paying for. However, I’ve been seeing that there are plenty of other free services you can use: Tax Act, as well as the IRS’s website itself.

Hopefully on Monday I’ll get a confirmation that my e-filing was accepted. If so, I can look forward to a $792 credit that I will be applying to my debt principal.

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