Should You Prepare Your Tax Return By Hand Or Use Tax Software?

by ABC editor

Preparing your taxes on your own has never been easier. Tax filers have options today that were unavailable just a few short years ago. If you are in a position where do-it-yourself tax preparation is realistic then your first choice will be whether or not you will use tax preparation software such as TurboTax, H&R Block at Home (formerly TaxCut) or TurboTax Canada (formery QuickTax) or prepare your tax return by hand.  Here we look more closely at the options to see which if either is preferable:

Read my comprehensive review of popular tax software program TurboTax.

Prepare Your Own Tax Return with Tax Software

Using tax software to prepare your return- If the thought of preparing your return manually makes you cringe, consider the other do-it-yourself options that have become widely popular among taxpayers. You could choose either online tax preparation or downloading software to your computer. Both options are popular and offer many advantages over manual tax preparation. The first advantage is the guidance and support offered by tax software. When you prepare your taxes using tax software you have step-by-step instructions that make the process much easier and reduces the chance of errors. Another benefit of filing your taxes using tax software is the speed in which your return can be filed. Filing your return manually is a waiting game. First you wait until your return is received, then you wait until your return is processed and finally you wait until your refund (if applicable) is delivered via mail. When you file your return using tax software much of the waiting is eliminated as electronic returns are received immediately and processed quickly. You can opt for direct deposit of your refund which means you can have your money in as little as a few days. Finally you have the added benefit of having either online or local storage of your date which can be accessed in the future should you need to amend a return.

If you are thinking of buying tax software then please consider getting TurboTax, H&R Block at Home (formerly TaxCut) or QuickTax (for Canadians).

Prepare Your Own Tax Return by Hand

Old fashioned tax preparation – There are still people out there who prefer to prepare their tax return the old fashioned way- by hand. This is an option for those who do not have access to a computer or the Internet and do not wish to pay a tax preparer to do the same job. You would simply gather the necessary documents and forms and fill them out accordingly. Of course there is no option for e-filing when you are working with a paper return, so allow plenty of time for your return to get to the IRS before the deadline. There is also an increased risk of inaccuracies when you manually prepare and file your return. If you have any questions you can contact the IRS for further instructions to ensure your return is filed properly.

One advantage of filing your tax return by hand is that you will get to learn the tax code and your finances better than if you use tax return software.  It’s debatable whether this knowledge is worth the extra hassle and increased error rate of filing by hand.

In today’s fast paced society, it appears more people prefer the convenience and ease of filing their tax return using some form of tax software versus the manual version. Of course you must first determine whether or not you should be filing your own return. Certain situations are better left to the professionals, therefore you should take your personal circumstances into consideration before tackling a job that might be more complicated than you anticipate.

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