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‘TaxCaster’ Provides Prep Steps and Peace of Mind
The universal truth of taxes is that nobody likes doing them. Even CPAs only do it because they get paid to! The real trouble with taxes, aside from the fact that they remind you just how much of your hard-earned paycheck is going to the government throughout the year, is that you don't know until you do them just how much you're still going to owe (or how little you'll get back). This can lead many to avoid tax prep until the last-minute or write the process off completely (which could result in fines, or at the very least deprive them of money they might have gotten back). Others simply suffer from higher-than-normal stress levels as they wait to learn the amount of damage the IRS will do to their savings. But there's an easier way to face the tax season, and it starts with a simple app from the folks over at Turbo Tax. TaxCaster by Turbo Tax, the free tax refund calculator, is, as advertised, free to download. And as you might have guessed from the name, it also helps you to calculate the amount of money you'll get back (or owe) when April rolls around. The process of reaching this estimate is actually pretty simple. You'll start by inputting a variety of applicable information under set categories, including about you, your income, and your tax breaks. Under the first category you'll be asked to provide information on the status of your household. Are you married or single? Will you file jointly? Do you have dependents you can claim, and if so, how many? Next you'll enter financial data concerning your income, most of which can be found on your W-2, although much of it you can figure out on your own with a pay stub and a calculator. You'll input your taxable wages (which could include not only paychecks, but also stock sales or other cash disbursals), federal and state tax already withheld, and any income earned from unemployment. Finally, you can enter any figures that will lead to potential tax breaks, such as mortgage interest, charitable donations, education expenses, retirement contributions, tax payments, and any other deductions you are eligible to claim. That's pretty much it. Once you've entered this information you can tap on the final results section to see a calculation summary that includes totals for income, deductions, exemptions, taxes paid, and most importantly, your estimated tax refund from the federal government. But suppose you aren't getting a refund. What if you end up owing at the end of the year? This is where the application ends up being smarter than the average bear. It also gives you clues as to how to decrease what you owe or get more money back. The final snapshot shows you what you're earning and deducting, so if you end up owing, all you have to do is find ways to increase deductions, whether that means altering the amount you withhold from each paycheck, making more contributions to your retirement accounts and charities, or learning to trade stocks in a way that won't bump you into the next tax bracket. And the app will also recommend other Turbo Tax products that could help you based on the information you enter. Taxes may not be fun, but TaxCaster can definitely give you a heads up and help you to prepare for the filing to come.