Using TurboTax for Free Tax Advice
TurboTax is being offered free through many different channels this year. I got a CD in the mail from them because I used them to do my taxes last year. Don’t worry if you didn’t get a CD in the mail, you can use the product online for free as well. There is no credit card number needed or anything like that. This isn’t that kind of promotion. The way it works, is that you do have to pay for the product IF you use it to file your taxes or if you print out your return. (One version even allows you to print your return for free).
As someone with a home office, you can take advantage of this promotion to see if you qualify for a home office deduction. The answer isn’t always straight forward, but TurboTax does a nice job of using interview style questioning to help make the decision for you. You can always review the information another way if you like. Then, if you don’t want to buy TurboTax, just copy down the numbers and file your taxes however you like.
Once you have determined if a taking the home office deduction is right for you, then you can use TurboTax to help you calculate exactly how much that deduction should be. Again, this calculation isn’t the easiest calculation to make, but with a little help from a computer algorithm, you’ll not only get the calculation done for you, but you can see all the computations as well which means that not only can you check the math if you so desire, but you can see if there is something you are missing as well.
To get started, go to the TurboTax website at turbotax.intuit.com and click one of the “Start for Free" buttons. You will have to sign up for an account, but you can use any email address you like, so create a temporary one if necessary. You don’t necessarily have to use one of the “business" versions if you are a sole proprietor (or LLC taxed as a sole proprietor). The Deluxe version has a part dedicated to home offices. The Premier version is an upgrade for complicated investment tax info, so there isn’t an advantage for the home office deduction. If you want to use a version more advanced than Deluxe, then jump to Home & Business instead.
The only downside to this strategy is that you do have to input a fair amount of information to get to the home office deduction part, but take advantage of the skip and do it later functions for all of the parts that don’t relate to your home or business.
As an added bonus, if it turns out that you end up liking the TurboTax product enough that you want to use it for the rest of your taxes, all of the information you enter gets saved, so you can just start right back up where you left off. If it works for you, it can be a lot cheaper than an accountant.
Also, read about using technology to help document and prove your deductions.