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Tech Savvy for Feb. 21

by Aaron Harper

This week′s Tech Savvy is about filing your taxes online. Many websites provide this service, but I use Complete Tax (www.completetax.com). They can handle complications like self employment, shared custody, and full time students. If you return next year, they will enter some of the data for you.

Go to www.completetax.com and click on the button that says “Start Now,” then click on “Start a New User ID.” Fill out the form that comes up. Choosing a login name and password can be frustrating, since your login name must be different from anyone else′s. Once you find a login name, write it down. You′ll use it only once a year, and it isn′t the one you normally use, so you′ll likely forget it. Click on the blue “Submit” button on the bottom to go to the next screen. Click on “Start a New 2007 Tax Return,” read and accept the User Agreement, and a welcome screen will remind you of what′s needed to proceed. The blue buttons on the bottom let you navigate. Simply choose the answer or type in the data on each screen. When you finish a page, check your work. If you are satisfied, check the box labeled “check if page is complete” and click on the blue continue button. If you have some questions, but would like to move on anyway, just click on the continue button without checking the box. The program will remind you to review your work before it will let you submit it. Should you find you don′t have all the information you need, you can click on the “Logout” link to exit. When you are ready to continue, log back in like you did before, but enter your login name and password under the “Returning User” section. All your work is still there.

Once you are done and are satisfied with the information, you may submit the return. This will cost about $30-40, but below a certain income it′s free. I pay with my credit card, it′s quick and easy. If you receive a refund, you can choose how you receive your money. Filing electronically as soon as possible, paying by credit card, and depositing (EFT) allows me to get my refund back quickly. It makes a huge difference.

There is another bonus to filing early. Most people will receive money from the “Economic Stimulus Package.” How much depends on your income, marital status, dependents, etc. The order in which the checks are issued is the order the tax returns were received. The IRS will start to issue checks in May. That′s it for this week′s Tech Savvy. Next time we will be covering Sparks and Smoke: how computers fail.