Lessening the Pain

Friday 4 Feb 2005

I am a hardcore fan of Turbotax. I don't even bother to buy the software and keep it updated - I just file my taxes over the web each year.

I used to file "by hand" back when things were simple: one job, no savings, 1040EZ every year. Then in 2000, I started working the second job. I got hit with a nasty surprise in February 2001, because I was in a higher tax bracket and hadn't done anything to offset this. I did my taxes by hand and it looked like I'd owe about $3000. I tried Turbotax and got it down to $2200 (no, I don't know how, nor do I care - I'm sure I was doing something less-than-optimally when I first did it by hand.)

I bumped up what I paid to federal and state, and from 2002 onward, I've done my taxes quickly and efficiently in about 20 minutes each time, filing and getting my refund electronically. In fact, this year, I got an early start and both returns had been approved by the IRS by January 26. My refunds are on their way to my checking account.

If you're reading this and you don't live in the United States, I commend you for not having to deal with this tax system. Otherwise, my advice is this: if you don't use Turbotax, use something. It beats the old pencil-and-paper way.