If you're doing your own business taxes, you need a good tax software program. Whether you want to maximize your credits and deductions, or avoid penalties and audits, you need to be sure you're partnering with the right software. Incomplete forms and inaccuracies are unforgivable when it comes to taxation, so it's important to select software that's going to do the job right the first time.
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Tips for choosing your Tax Preparation Software
Ease of use. Most systems are simple to learn and easy to use once you get acquainted with the user interface, but it never hurts to try before you spend any money. You don't want find out the software you purchased is a nightmare to navigate and makes the process of completing your filing forms confusing.
Many tax software companies offer free demos. If they don't, ask for one. If the provider refuses, that should be a red flag. Most reputable companies will let you test-drive their software.
Filing options. One of the most important features of any tax software application is the type of forms it can file. Make sure the forms you need are supported. Most leading software programs on the market support an avalanche of forms, so odds are good you'll be able to find what you need. But you also need to consider state taxes, not just federal.
Disbursement options. It's also important to consider how you'll be paid any money that you're owed on your tax returns. Some software makes this super easy, with direct deposits, PayPal options or even just the traditional check by mail. Others support only specific delivery methods. Check that the software you're considering supports the disbursement method that is most convenient for you.
Deductions and credits. Any tax software worth its salt maintains a database of hundreds of tax deductions and credits. Unless you know for sure how the company has built deductions into its system, it's hard to tell if your software will overlook opportunities where you can reduce your tax burden. Confirm details of how the software deals with deductions and credits, and about how you can be assured of its accuracy.
Tax preparers. You can still run into snags with even the best online tax software, so it's useful to have human support. Many companies offer on-call tax preparers that you can rely on in a pinch. In some cases, they are included with the price of the software package; in others, they cost extra. Be sure you understand the parameters of your plan and whether you need added support.
Tech support and customer service. The quality and availability of both technical support and customer service are important. If something goes wrong, you want reliable, helpful and forthcoming staff members responding to your requests. Become acquainted with the company before making a final decision; good tech support can turn a crisis into a minor inconvenience, so don't compromise value here.
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