Many of you are going to need help with your taxes. It’s not just about the last-minute things you did to maximize deductions in 2017. It’s about setting yourself up with the appropriate plans for 2018, when you’ll lose some deductions and gain others. Without those deductions next year, you might even have to make larger quarterly tax deposits.
TurboTax is coming to the rescue with an entirely new product that allows you to connect live via one-way video to a CPA or enrolled agent.
The tax experts can either answer individual questions or review your return before filing, and even sign and e-file your return. That’s in addition to their annual updates of the popular online or downloadable traditional products.
It’s a clever reverse of the e-everything trend, which has moved everything from shopping to financial services online. People still want individualized attention from experts, and now they can get it from the comfort of their own home. No more carrying boxes of documents, forms and information to a tax preparer. You can do your taxes in your pajamas, and the experts see your screen, not you. And you can discuss your issues in real time.
The process and guarantee
Start by answering the simple questions on your computer when you do your taxes online with TurboTax Live. Then push the “Expert Help” button on your screen if doubts arise as you do your taxes and get instant help on specific tax questions. After you are finished, you can choose to schedule a review session with a tax expert who can even sign and file your return for you.
The TurboTax guarantee is significant: You get the maximum tax refund and a 100 percent accuracy guarantee for any review that is signed and filed by one of their credentialed tax experts.
You might be wondering about the people who offer this advice through TurboTax. All are considered company employees, though they may work flexible hours. Many of these thousands of advisers come from the existing ranks of TurboTax tax experts. All are backed by the TurboTax guarantee and have an average of 10 years of experience.
TurboTax Live costs $149.99 for a federal return, and $36.99 for each state return, which is reasonable. You go online at www.TurboTax.com and choose the appropriate version of TurboTax, based on your tax situation. TurboTax will also help you choose the right product for you. Each program can import your W-2 forms and other tax documents.
Yes, there are free alternatives for getting help filing your income taxes. But they mostly deal with the basics.
Most states offer free help for seniors, and the IRS even has a free-file program for seniors. As well, the IRS offers free filing help for those who earn $54,000 or less, or have disabilities or problems speaking English.
TurboTax competitor TaxAct offers free filing for simple IRS forms 1040EZ and 1040A. For a small fee, they’ll even import last year’s return for comparison.
TurboTax also offers free filing with TurboTax Absolute Zero for the more than 60 million taxpayers who can file form 1040A or 1040EZ, which also includes free prior year PDF import of their tax information if the customer used another preparation method.
But mostly, this type of offer is reserved for simpler returns. And perhaps next year tax filing really will be easier, with the higher standard deduction causing fewer people to itemize deductions.
But why take a chance on a complete do-it-yourself route when live help is not only convenient but guaranteed? It’s a relatively small price to pay for peace of mind in dealing with the IRS.
(Article written by Terry Savage)