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William Perez

Tax Software for Planning Out Your Year-End Tax Moves

By December 18, 2012

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When planning out any year-end tax moves, I often turn to software to help me see the impact of making additional deductions or to estimate the tax on earning additional income. The following tax software programs are currently available for calculating 2012 taxes.

H&R Block At Home Online: I was able to draft out a tax return based on wages and investment income. The module for self-employment income (Schedule C) wasn't available. For investment income, I was able to enter interest and dividends. Capital gain income on Schedule D is not available just yet. Similarly, the module for the particular state where I live wasn't available. Messages inside the H&R Block At Home software indicated that these modules will be available on January 4, 2013.

TaxACT Online: I was able to draft out a tax return based on wages, self-employment income, interest, dividends and capital gains. The state tax module wasn't available for my state, and TaxACT provided a state tax planner worksheet to provide a preliminary calculation of 2012 state taxes. TaxACT also provides a What-If planner for federal taxes to assist you in comparing up to three different tax scenarios for the years 2012, 2013, and 2014. (This can be located under the Next Year tab and then clicking through to the Tax Calculator.) The What-If Planner calculates only federal taxes for the different scenarios.

TurboTax Online: I was able to draft out a tax return based on wages, self-employment income, investment income and deductions. Some federal modules were not available yet. Some state modules also were not available.  TurboTax provided a message that my state's tax return module would be available December 28, 2012.

Additionally, there are tax estimating applications. These applications don't require users to sign in or register.

TaxCaster from Intuit: you can enter wages, other income, and business income subject to the self-employment tax. TaxCaster also allows you to enter various tax deductions and credits grouped into categories such as family, education, home, donations, retirement and estimated payments. Calculates federal taxes only.

Tax Estimator from H&R Block: handles wages, self-employment income, and other types of income. It also handles a limited number of deductions for state taxes, mortgage interest, charity, job-related expenses, student loan interest, child care, and college tuition. Calculates federal taxes only, and separately lists the self-employment tax. Calculates federal taxes only.

MyTaxBurden from the Tax Foundation: calculates 2013 federal taxes based on different scenarios currently being debated about tax rates. The calculator has a quick estimator for wage-earners, and offers additional Detailed Questions and Advanced Options for producing calculations for specific types of income. The calculator offers two different versions. The Fiscal Cliff calculator estimates the tax impact if "Bush-era and Obama tax cuts expire, the payroll tax holiday expires, and AMT is not patched" versus the tax on the same income using 2011 tax rates. The Bush Tax Cuts calculator compares three possible scenarios for 2013: "full expiration of all Bush-era and Obama tax cuts, the Republican plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts..., and President Obama's plan to partially extend these cuts for families making under $250,000 per year ($200,000 for single filers) as well as extending tax cuts in the 2009 stimulus bill."

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