Whether you own your own business or you work for someone else, tax season is probably one of your least favorite times of the year. However, with a little bit of know-how and help, you can ensure that your taxes are always properly filed, with all possible deductions taken, without a lot of effort and hassle.

This is one of the reasons that a whole range of tax preparation software has continued to increase in popularity over the years; they allow people to easily manage and track all the information they need through the year, making filing taxes a lot easier than it might otherwise be.

A lot of us have a really big fear of taxes and there is a lot of anxiety that surrounds filing one’s taxes. Not only is it confusing, but failing to file your taxes properly could end up with you getting audited, which is something that most of us wouldn’t wish on an enemy.

Also, if you do not know all the things you can write off and any special exemptions you could be applying for, you may be paying more in taxes than you need to be.

Not all of us have tons of money to have our own accountant or even take our tax returns to a specialized tax preparation service each year. This is another reason that tax preparation software for home use has become so popular.

It provides many of the advantages of using a professional tax service, without the associated costs. Many software suites are point and click, and provide a wide range of help features that make it easy to find all possible exemptions and write-offs, and to ensure that you don’t miss anything.

Each year, the software that comes out will have within it the latest changes relating to the tax code to ensure that you are always in compliance.

This guide will touch on some of the main reasons people rely so heavily on tax preparation software, as well as some of the myriad of benefits that come from using such software for filing your taxes. Then, we provide an overview of TurboTax, which is an industry standard when it comes to home and small business tax preparation software.

Benefits of using tax preparation software

As technology and the related software continues to increase in sophistication, so do software tools like tax preparation software. Each year they become more intuitive, offer more in the way of features, and, as noted above, come with any tax-related changes already programmed into the software.

This means that you don’t have to spend much time trying to parse our incredibly complex tax code in order to understand the basic rules and changes.

If you were to try to do this yourself, you would have to parse through countless pages of tedious legal terminology.

You would then need to cross check it with the previous year’s tax code so you can determine the subtle differences that might not be laid out in the overview of changes. This can be incredibly time-consuming, not to mention frustrating. The always-current tax rules being included

in most tax preparation software is one of the often cited benefits of using said tools.

Again, as technology has continued to improve, so too has the user interface of these types of tools. Now, you can easily manage your finances, keeping records for your state and federal taxes, with just a few key presses, or even a few finger swipes on a touchscreen.

So, another great benefit of modern tax preparation software is that it is very intuitive and easier to use than ever before. Filling out taxes using software that provides step-by-step instructions takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process and helps you get through your taxes in far less time.

Another reason that tax preparation software is so popular is the value of said software.

Even the most top-of-the line tax preparation software suite will be quite affordable, and they allow you to file your taxes online, for free, without you ever having to leave your home, or mailing off any forms. Most of these software suites cost less than $100, which is incredibly affordable, especially when you consider how much it costs to have a professional prepare your taxes for you.

Time is not something a lot of us have in spades, so having to show up by appointment to a tax preparation place is not exactly convenient.

Add to that the extra driving time, added costs—why would anyone want to go through all this when you can do all this from your home for less money and with the same level of peace of mind you get from having a professional handle your taxes?

The speed with which you can file your taxes with tax preparation software is another key benefit of these tools. A lot of software allows you to accurately file your taxes in about a half hour.

It should be noted that there are certain people who may not find as much utility in tax preparation software as most of us do.

If you are a self-employed individual, someone with a lot of assets outside of work-related income, or have a more complicated tax status, it might make more sense to go with a professional tax preparation service, as they have the specific information and knowledge needed to ensure that you get the most out of your return.

However, most of us, whether we own a business, have stocks, are filing a joint tax return, etc., find a great deal of utility with tax preparation software. In a lot of cases, you will be able to use your software suite for longer than just one year.

Many software suites allow you to update your software to reflect the latest changes in the tax code, so you can still use the software you already have, but ensure that the rules it is using and exemptions/write-offs are still valid.

Part of the reason that this kind of software is so convenient and helpful is that it doesn’t require you to have paper copies of every single tax document you may need information from. Many tax preparation software suites are able to pull in information such as payroll information, or information from your W-2s from outside sources.

Not only does this reduce frustration and the amount of paper you have to keep track of throughout the year, it also saves a ton of time that would otherwise be spent manually entering in all this information.

With tax preparation software, you will be prompted to any area of your taxes that may require further attention or research. You will be unable to submit your tax return if, for example, there is a required field that has not been filled in.

If you were filling out your taxes by hand, there would be no prompts like this that would indicate you might have missed something. It will also give you guidance when to look deeper into certain exemptions or write-offs that you might not have known that you might qualify for. Again, this is not something that would occur if you were filling out your taxes by hand.

TurboTax

TurboTax is a trusted tax preparation software suite that has been one of the most highly regarded and recommended home tax preparation software available on the market.

Whether you have TurboTax 2015, TurboTax 2016, or you have gotten the newest version, TurboTax 2017, you have a powerful suite of software tools that make accurately and fully filling out all portions of your tax return simple, easy, and efficient.

One of the many reasons that people love TurboTax and its suite of tools, tax calculators, and more, was that it was one of the very first home tax preparation software brands on the market. It has strived to stay ahead of the proverbial curve, always seeking to improve the user interface and ease of use of the software with every new release.

It is one of the premium tax preparation software suites that many people have sworn by for more than a decade. With most versions of TurboTax; not only do you get a full suite of varied tools that will help you file with ease, you can also file your tax return for free.

This means that the only investment you have to make is in the software itself. It is easy to see how something this versatile would quickly pay for itself.

One of the biggest perks of the TurboTax suite of tools is the ease of use and intuitive user interface. It features a wide range of help features and Q and A sections that are designed to tackle any of the common questions or issues people might have when first using this software.

If your question cannot be answered by one of the tutorials or FAQ answers, you can directly ask your question to a TurboTax professional. They are well known for providing some of the best answers and online service in the industry. There is a banner across the top of the screen that indicates your progress, as well as any flags that you may need to address.

In a lot of ways, using the most recent version of TurboTax is like having an accountant in your home. The filing process is a step-by-step process in the form of a series of targeted questions, as well as guidance as to the correct place on the forms to put said data.

You don’t have to know anything about taxes or accounting to use this software, it asks the questions in layman’s terms.

The most recent version of TurboTax uses cloud storage, which means that you can easily access your personal information across a range of devices.

This means you could start your tax preparation on a computer and finish it on a tablet or smartphone.

Some versions of the software suite actually include a separate app for a phone or tablet.

This is an app called ItsDeductible, which helps you find the deductible value of various things like donations, helping to ensure that you get every possible exemption and deductible possible, including those you don’t know about.

If for some reason, you find yourself being audited and you used TurboTax preparation services, you will get free audit support. What this entails is that you are able to be in contact with a professional tax expert that tells you what you can expect from an IRS audit, as well as how best to prepare for what is to come.

If you need additional help, they also offer audit defense services, which costs $44.99 and will get you full professional representation during your audit.

Conclusion

Tax time is nobody’s favorite time of year and for good reason.

The tax code is incredibly confusing and full of legal terms and another language that is not intuitive to the layperson. This is why so many people swear by tax preparation software as an affordable way to get the peace of mind that your taxes are filled out properly and that you are getting all the deductions you qualify for.

With tax preparation software, you get guided assistance in filling out your taxes. Some software suites may even be able to pull in a lot of your information, saving you time filling it out by hand.

TurboTax has long been one of the most popular tax preparation software suites because it is incredibly easy to use and has a very intuitive user interface.

It comes with a wide range of help features, including access to live human customer service if you have a question you cannot find the answer to in the various help areas online. It also ensures that you fill in all required areas of the return before you are able to submit it. Some versions of the software also come with added features like a deductible seeker and audit support.