Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's Tax Time

Here is some great information I wanted to pass on to you all that a friend of mine recently gave me. I hope it helps someone out!

www.irs.gov Offers online Free File Fillable Forms for you to fill out and eFile your federal taxes for Free if you are comfortable doing youir own taxes.

If you prefer to use tax software, they also offer FreeFile, which is a link to an outside website like Turbo Tax and H&R Block. You have to go through the IRS website to get there in order for it to work. These sites offer their online tax software for FREE for people who meet certain criteria. Most of the companies want your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) to be less than $57,000 or less, depending on the company. (Check last years tax return to get an estimate of your AGI if your Gross income is over this amount.) There may also be an age limit, usually 52 or younger. Some tax software is only available for certain states. And U.S. Citizens and resident aliens with foreign addresses. The criteria are clearly listed with each tax software company's website. It's very easy to get to this point.

Once you choose a Free File company, it takes you step by step through each phase of the tax software asking questions and making suggestions to increase your refund. You can also do your state taxes through some of these sites but they charge a fee for eFiling those. I use the tax software to figure out my state return without filing and then do my state return at Maryland's tax website and check numbers against each other because the state site can be a bit tricky.

Once you are finished and ready to file your Federal Return through Free File, you have the option to have a check mailed to you or direct deposit into your bank account. I always do direct deposit and get my return within 2 weeks. If you have never eFiled before, you will have to choose a 4 digit pin number and enter last year's AGI. If you don't have last years AGI, you will have to print out a form to sign and mail to the IRS. That will be the only thing you will have to mail in.

After you efile, you will receive an email from the software website that your return was electronically sent and the IRS has sent a confirmation that they received it. You will get a follow up email letting you know that the IRS has accepted your return. You can also log into the software website to check for this information.

After your return has been accepted, you can check on the IRS website to find out the date your check will be mailed or direct deposited. It's theWhere's My Refund? link located on the main page. Very helpful and reassuring!

Maryland's State Taxes iFile can be done through Maryland's website. They have their own software to help you figure out your return and efile. Resident Maryland Tax Return under Tax Year 2011 is which link you choose.

This software hasn't been crystal clear in the past which is why I suggest that you do your State return on the site where you are filing your Federal returns (but don't file there!) to get a return or payment amount to compare to the State's site. eFile your taxes after your numbers match or close it to. I was $5 off on my parent's state return last year which drove me crazy. Come to find out it was a mistake on the state's site, not my calculations, so I filed and sent the state a nice little email about the glitch.

Every year you can log into the State's site and all your info will be pulled up including your and your dependent's names, social security numbers and address. The online software website you choose to efile your Federal returns will not let you do that. You will have to enter in your personal info each year even if you use the same site every year.

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