The “Turbo Tax” program is a brand name and is not actually free; however, it is very inexpensive and provides a user-friendly system that is well worth the $99 fee for the business edition. You can download all current versions at the Turbo Tax website. The small fee includes the software download, customer support, and e-filing! There are several “free” versions of “Turbo Tax” programs that provide tax preparation software downloads for small businesses. I will list the most popular in this article so you have the opportunity to decide what is best for yourself.
Most Popular Free Tax Preparation Software Programs
You can run any of the above programs through a search engine to pull up the official websites for them. You will find that all but two of them provide a “free” version and the ability to upgrade to a “premium” or “deluxe” program. There is a bit of “bait and switch” marketing that goes on in this industry. What I am referring to is that you will have to pay something to get your taxes actually filed. Most of these programs also attempt to sell you other services such as audit insurance.
For the small businesses on a tight budget using one of the above services is well worth it. Even if it would end up taking several hours from start to finish, this is time well spent to avoid the hundreds of dollars to get your taxed prepared by anyone else. All of these programs come with some type of tutorials to walk you through the process.
The process for using these programs is very similar. Below is a basic outline of some considerations:
- Most programs to not ask you to pay a cent until you actually file your taxes. So there is no risk to download the program and try it out.
- Most of the above programs give you the ability to upgrade to a more user-friendly, powerful version.
- If it is your first time doing your taxes by yourself, plan to take three to five hours to get through the whole process.
- The federal taxes are usually more easily done on these programs then the state taxes; however, all the above programs will walk you through the state process as well.
- These programs will give you a choice of mailing your taxes in or e-filing. They will also give you the same choice for refunds and tax payments.
- The process of actually using these programs is similar to setting down with a CPA. You will be asked a number of questions concerning income and deductions. Then the program will prepare your taxes.
For most small businesses there is no reason why a frugal entrepreneur cannot do their own tax preparation. I run three different businesses out of my home. I have found that although there are free programs to download, they all cost money in the end if you want to file. On top of that, paying a $99 to have the whole process covered is well worth it. Check out the competition, but I personally use Turbo Tax.