In a previous article, we outlined the advantages of using online budgeting tools for your taxes. We also discussed how the IRS customer service team may offer free support and guidance. These different tax-preparation methods can save you plenty of money and time, while enabling you to discover new deductions and credits. Some of the most prominent apps include PocketGuard, Turbotax, and online filing software offered by certain states’ governments.
Keep in mind that many digital budgeting tools can be unreliable. Others might cost as much money as going through an accountant. Therefore, without carefully choosing the right software, taxpayers will easily miss out on all the great benefits of filing through a user-friendly and affordable platform.
This article highlights the best online budgeting tools that you should use this tax season. Each of them has unique features and its own pros and cons. Because of this, you will be able to pick the right platform that specifically suits your needs and objectives.
Why Use Online Budgeting Tools
Apps make filing your taxes very easy and straightforward. For a start, consumers save themselves a trip to the accountant’s office when they prepare tax documents from home.
Moreover, the online forms are simple, the software is cheap, and the deductions are plenty. Similarly, you can keep track of your daily or weekly deductible expenses throughout the year.
Here is a list of the main apps that taxpayers should consider.
Users can create custom budgets and monitor their spending through PocketGuard software. This app is unique because consumers can use it for different purposes, including business accounting and personal financial planning.
Having said that, PocketGuard is mainly designed for general budgeting instead of tax filing. In other words, it may not be as resourceful as other options when it comes to identifying tax deductions and credits.
Nevertheless, users can still create a custom account that specifically suits their goals and objectives. In turn, they are able to categorize expenses and keep track of potentially deductible transactions.
TurboTax and Intuit
This app is arguably the most popular one for preparing taxes. The IRS’s website recommends TurboTax, especially since its software is useful for households and businesses alike.
Moreover, the software has four different offerings. The Free Edition includes simple forms for uncomplicated tax returns. You can use it to file federal and state taxes at no cost.
The Deluxe version will cost about $60 per month. It is suitable for households that want to take advantage of several deductions and credits.
Premier is for taxpayers who rely on investments and real estate property as sources of income. Business owners and independent contractors, on the other hand, should utilize the Self-Employed software.
One of the unique features of TurboTax is the free access to Intuit Quickbooks. This app lets you record deductible transactions such as business expenses, marketing costs, and your gas mileage for work-related commutes.
TurboTax, however, isn’t suitable for general budgeting purposes. It’s main purpose is tax preparation. Yet, its Intuit Quickbooks and customizable tools should always be considered.
In comparison to TurboTax, Tax Slayer is much cheaper and more affordable. The app’s offerings start at zero dollars, with the Simply Free program being the most beneficial to households, college students, and taxpayers with uncomplicated tax deductions.
Classic, on the other hand, allows you to maximize your deductions and credits for as low as $17. The Premium package, which costs $37, provides users with ongoing customer support and more tools.
Lastly, the Self-Employed program sells for less than $50. It is mainly designed for business owners and independent contracts.
Even though Tax Slayer is cheaper than TurboTax, its filing packages are not as inclusive, especially the free version. Moreover, it lacks the same budgeting and ongoing transaction updates that both PocketGuard and TurboTax provide you with.
Either way, Tax Slayer is ideal if your tax returns are simple and deductions are limited, even more so if you want to save money.
Traditional Tax Accountants
Unsurprisingly, brick-and-mortar tax firms are catching up with technology. Companies like H&R Block, for instance, have their own filing software. Others, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), allow clients to integrate their existing information with TurboTax’s software.
This route is great if you previously worked with a traditional tax accountant. These companies already have your details and past finances on hand. In turn, they may provide you with more personalized and comprehensive support while preparing your tax returns online.
Having said that, these companies are likely to charge taxpayers for help and support. In addition, their free software could be a way for these firms to solicit additional services to potential clients.
Nonetheless, brick-and-mortar accountants tend to have great offerings for existing and new clients alike. To give an example, PwC lets you access TurboTax at a discounted price.
VITA and TCE
The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs give you access to free support. In fact, you may even find volunteers and face-to-face meetings in your area that are organized by the IRS.
VITA and TCE, though, are not available to all consumers. Only taxpayers who make less than $56,000 per year can utilize VITA. It is also offered to disabled filers and those whose English is limited. Moreover, TCE may only be utilized by Americans who are over 60 years old, especially those who need help with reporting retirement pensions and finances.
Even though VITA and TCE are only available to certain taxpayers, those who access these programs can enjoy free and reliable support.
E-Filing Through Your State
Many localities, including states with no income tax laws, allow residents to file taxes online. Their software helps prepare federal and local paperwork, alike. This is especially useful to those who live in states with complex tax rules.
Having said that, only a few local governments let you file online. The efficiency and quality of the software also varies from one state to another. Regardless of where you live, though, it certainly doesn’t hurt to check the offerings in your area and how much your state’s program costs.
Online Budgeting Tools Make Taxes Easy
Each of the different tax-preparation apps has its own benefits, downsides, and service providers. Some consumers might benefit from PocketGuard’s online budgeting tools. Clients of brick-and-mortar firms are likely to prefer their accountant’s app. Just as importantly, there are specific platforms for business owners, retired individuals, and those who own investments or income-generating assets.
Because of this, you should take your time while studying the different options and online budgeting tools. Picking the right one allows you to maximize deductions, file the right forms, budget ahead of time, and save money.