By Peter Andrew
When I wrote 3 tips for avoiding an IRS audit last month, I was amazed by two statistics my research turned up: The National Taxpayer Advocate's 2012 report reckoned that nearly 60 percent of federal filers hire tax preparers, while another 30 percent use commercial software for their filings.
In my mind, another icon of Americana crumbled: No longer do most moms or dads perform the annual ritual of grim evenings spent at kitchen tables, growling at passing kids and muttering under their collective breath as they wrestle with piles of forms, receipts, pencils and erasers. Now, it's all outsourcing, laptops, tablets and even smartphones -- appropriate, I suppose, for modern America.
Of course, it's the ritual, not the reality, I miss. It's hard to get nostalgic about an annual stress-fest that saw millions with lousy arithmetic skills struggle to meet their obligations. How much better to let someone else or an electronic device take the strain. And, as families cut back further on unnecessary spending, it may well be that cheap -- or free -- software applications and e-filing services could become increasingly popular. So what do you need to know when choosing your tax-filing package?
Online or on-board tax-filing applications?
The first thing you have to decide is whether you want to buy or download an application that's going to save your results onto your computer, or one that operates in the "cloud" as a browser-based e-filing service.Read the full article »