Tax Preparation on the Road
This is the 6th year in a row that I’ve used TurboTax for the web to prepare my personal tax return. You gotta understand me and paperwork … we just don’t get along. I can ignore it for months, even years. Add to that the fact that we live in a motorhome where there’s no place to spread papers out, and you get the picture. I avoid filling out forms until I have no other choice. Web-based systems are *made* for me.
The fact that I’ve used TurboTax for the web for 6 years now helps SO much, I almost want to kiss the screen. All our personal info is already filled in, I just keep clicking ‘next…’ ‘next…’. All our acct numbers are already filled in. The 1099’s that I received last year are all there. My only job is to fill in this year’s numbers. And, this year I didn’t even have to do that because my bank is a participating institution. I do all my banking online – as do most RVers. TurboTax has a button to click to retrieve all 1099DIV info directly from my bank/broker. I’m in heaven.
I always choose to file electronically and to receive my refund electronically. I just pressed ‘Transmit my Return’ this morning. I expect to see refund money show up in our personal bank account in 10 days to 2 weeks. All this convenience cost me $29.95 (but it goes up tomorrow.) And, if you qualify for the 1040EZ short form, there is a version of Turbotax that is free.
There are also services other than Turbotax. Just go to the IRS page on e-filing. You’ll find a listing of all the available websites. This is especially important this year where many people are only filing in order to receive the ‘Economic Stimulus Payment.’ Filing for this is free. All the information you need is online.
I also had to file a corporate return. TurboTax doesn’t have any online system for that. But, I can get the forms I need from www.irs.gov and they are now ‘fill-in forms’. In years past I either needed to hand-write in the forms or find someone with an old typewriter. Neither of those would be a feasible option living in a motorhome. The fill-in forms are great. I have to do the calculations manually, unlike with TurboTax, but at least I can make a change and just reprint the form. Any form you need – they are all there on the IRS Tax Forms page.
These web-based tax services aren’t just for annual filings, I handle all my quarterly reports and payments online as well. The state of Florida has very convenient websites for handling all State filings. I expect other states do as well.
I know plenty of people who would not like the fact that their income tax return information is all ‘out there’ online, in TurboTax’s or IRS’s computers. Well, I hate to tell you, but it’s ‘out there’ anyway. There are risks of identity theft no matter what methods you use to transmit sensitive information. Electronic transmission is about the most secure method you can use. It doesn’t matter how you’re connected to the Internet – Turbotax (or whatever secure website you’re using) handles the encryption of your data from your computer, through the local Wi-Fi network if any, through the wide area Internet, *and* back to your computer. You can tell you’re on a secure website by the httpS: in the address bar. Turbotax goes an extra step and displays a notice that it is creating a secure connection.
It’s certainly the fastest and the most accurate. I’ve already received confirmation that my return was received.
I *almost* look forward to using TurboTax online for filing my taxes again next year!
Oh yeah – and I’m using my Datastorm Satellite Internet dish to get online. I love our Datastorm! Especially traveling through West Texas when I can’t count on any Wi-Fi or cell signal!