The Pros and Cons of Using Tax Return Apps and Software


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The new tax year ushers in the release of new tax preparation software and apps that all promise to make filing your taxes fast and easy. As tempting as it may be to try out one of these programs, you also must wonder if doing so would be in your own best interest. You can choose between using a tax preparation program or app or hiring a tax pro to do your taxes by learning more about each option.


The Advantages of Using Tax Prep Software or Apps

Given the technology today, it is little wonder that the newest tax prep software and apps have the ability to quickly file your returns for you. Depending on your circumstances, you can submit your return to the IRS with a few simple touches of a button or strokes of a keyboard.

Indeed, some of the top benefits that these programs offer include:

  • Affordability: Most tax preparation software or apps cost less than $50 to buy and can file your federal return for free.
  • Speed: Many of the programs require less than a half hour of your time to file your return
  • User-friendly: The programs walk you through filing step-by-step and help you avoid costly mistakes
But should you really use a tax prep program or app to file your taxes? In general, most tax experts agree that you can safely use one if you:

  • Are single and have a straightforward return
  • Do not have any taxable assets other than your income
  • Do not itemize
  • Are not self-employed
  • Do not own a business
  • Feel confident to file your taxes by yourself

If you meet any of these criteria and want to file your taxes quickly and efficiently, you may find it best to use a tax preparation software or mobile app.


The Advantages of Using a Tax Pro

However, if your tax situation is a bit more complicated or you are uneasy about the idea of filing your own taxes, you may find it best to hire a tax professional. Some of key benefits that come with allowing a tax professional to help you file your taxes include:

  • Tax pros use more thorough tax filing software than what you can buy in stores or online
  • You get real-life and reliable counsel while filing your taxes
  • Tax professionals are available to help you and answer tax questions year round
  • They are trained to handle complex tax matters
  • They may be able to mediate on your behalf with the IRS

Likewise, it is recommended that you rely on a professional tax preparer to help you file your returns if you:

  • Are married and plan to claim exemptions and dependents
  • Have taxable assets other than your income
  • Plan to itemize deductions
  • Are self-employed
  • Own your own business
  • Received an inheritance during the tax year
  • Had a major life change like getting married or divorced or being widowed
  • Feel overwhelmed or confused when filing taxes

A tax professional can provide advice for how to best file your taxes as well as assist you in submitting your returns. You also may avoid complications like being audited, fined, or owing more money in taxes.

As you prepare to file your taxes, you are posed with the question of whether or not to use tax preparation software or an app or to hire a tax professional. You can solve this dilemma and act in your own best interests by knowing when to utilize and what advantages come with each option.

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