Best Tax Returns Programs

Looking for the best tax preparation software program? Kira Botkin from did her taxes multiple times in order to test the most popular ones. She shares her findings, including which ones are easiest for those who aren't familiar with tax jargon, which one netted her the biggest refund, and which one is fastest. If you haven't done your taxes yet, you'll want to make sure you listen to this! This episode aired live February 4, 2013.

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About My Guest:

Kira Botkin is a longtime blogger and contributor to Money Crashers. She provided readers with information necessary to start a business, save money on car insurance, and prepare for retirement, among many other topics related to business and personal finance. In addition to writing, Botkin is an entrepreneur, researcher, and accountant. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.

What’s the biggest goal you are working on right now?
Saving for my wedding in June! Plus, making sure all my tax articles are up to date, since there are lots of small changes to the tax code every year.

When people find out what you do, what’s one of the questions that they always seem to ask?
Often, many people want to know if I will help prepare their federal income taxes! Also, many people become confused when they find out that I am actually quite terrible at math. However, to me, money and math are very separate subjects. Put a dollar sign in front of a number and I'll remember it forever.

What do you love most about your work/topic/field?
Many of the commenters on my articles are looking for answers to simple questions (often, the answer's in the article anyway), and if they didn't have a way to ask someone like me, they'd have to pay a CPA - or, more likely, they would just do their taxes wrong and end up paying far more than necessary. I feel like my role here is just to be someone who can read the IRS publications and think about the problem calmly - especially since most people take one look at these publications and immediately assume they won't be able to understand them! I like being an oasis of calm in a sea of tax panic.

What frustrates you the most?
Many people think taxes are really complicated and require arcane knowledge, but in reality, taxes are only complicated for those who have a lot of money. The average person can benefit greatly from learning about the tax topics that affect him or her most, but so many people believe that it's a topic they'll never be able to understand.

The two things I wish most people knew about taxes is that, one, a little bit of planning ahead saves you a lot more money than being a wizard with paperwork - most of the time there are no tricks that a preparer can use to get you more personal tax deductions if you don't qualify for them. And two, people really need to understand how itemized deductions work versus standard deductions - there are tons of articles out there about how to get more tax deductions that simply will not apply to you if you are using the standard deduction. Therefore, there is no point in stressing about trying to get them.

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