Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Electronically taxing

I was excited to see on our federal tax booklets that anyone making less than $54,000 a year can file electronically for free. I had known for a few years that "low-income" households could do the free e-filing, but didn't realize the cut-off for "low-income" was so high. (Although, my partner and I would not qualify if we had a marriage license: how silly is that?)

So, off to the IRS website I went. It presented me with a long list of companies that offered free e-filing. In a hurry to get things going, I picked a company off the first page with a nice sounding name: Liberty Tax. It met all my expectations for e-filing benefits: the software found a couple of small credit I didn't know I could take, it was very nice to not have to mess with photocopies and envelopes, and my refund arrived very quickly. But, the user interface was slow and frustrating to work with, and the attempts to get me to purchase e-filing for my state return were irritating, to the point that I might have rather filled out the paper booklet.

Next, state taxes. The state of Illinois has developed its own software (unlike the IRS, which just links to the software of private companies). And after my experience with filing our federal taxes, I was pleasantly surprised by the clear instructions and quick run-through time of the Illinois software. Plus, this software is also free (so why was Liberty Tax trying to charge me $10 to use their clunky system?)

I'm glad my 2008 tax experience ended on a positive note. I can't say I look forward to doing taxes twelve months from now, but having a good experience at least with state taxes gives me hope the whole process will be better next year. Thank you, software writers for Illinois.

No comments: