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Best Tax Forms 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated December 1, 2018
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Billy JacobsMy name is Billy Jacobs. One of the most important sections in the article – the comparison charts for best tax forms in 2018!

In this article, I will be categorizing the items according to their functions and most typical features. Now I’m going to recommend a few tax forms you can pick from to get started quickly and easily.

Let’s get to it!

Best Tax Forms of 2018

Come with me. Customers need to be careful on how they spend their money on these products.

After carefully examining the reviews and ratings of the people who have used them earlier this listicle has been made. Below you can find 3 reviews of the best tax forms to buy in 2018, which I have picked after the deep market research.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
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№1 – TOPS W-2 Tax Forms for 2017 – 6-part form sets for 50 employees and W-3 summary transmittal form

TOPS W-2 Tax Forms for 2017 - 6-part form sets for 50 employees and W-3 summary transmittal form

The W-2 Inkjet/Laser Tax Forms Forms for Tax Year 2017 contains 50 sets of W-2 forms plus a W-3 summary form
TOPS 2017 W-2 Tax Forms are 2 per page with micro perforations which tear off easily to separate forms for distribution; printed on 20 lb. Bond paper that prints smoothly without jamming
Literally no flaws

Why did this tax forms win the first place?

The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse.












№2 – 1099 MISC 4 Part Tax Forms Kit

1099 MISC 4 Part Tax Forms Kit

Quickly print and mail your 1099s with our 1099 MISC bundle that includes everything you need to file your 1099s for your vendors and suppliers
All printed fields will perfectly line up with the correct boxes when using Quickbooks or other tax software when using both Laser and Inkjet printers
It seems not very durable.
Heavy in weight as compared to others in our lineup.

Why did this tax forms come in second place?

This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture.












№3 – Adams 1099 MISC Tax Forms for 2017 – 5-part form sets for 12

Adams 1099 MISC Tax Forms for 2017 - 5-part form sets for 12

Everything you need to file your 1099-MISC forms in the perfect pack size for a small business: Sets for 12 recipients plus a 1096 summary form, 12 double window security envelopes and access to TFH Online
Adams 2017 1099-MISC Tax Forms are 2 per page with micro perforations; Printed on 20 lb. Bond paper; Copy A is included for mailing to the IRS; Page size: 8-1/2 x 11, detached size: 8 x 5-1/2
Not for inexperienced users.
There is something wrong in the back.

Why did this tax forms take third place?

It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new.












Tax Forms Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy tax forms, right? No!

Personal Taxes

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money.

Filing a tax return online is the norm these days, but that doesn’t make it any less intimidating.

Which software should you use? Are they even that different? And how much does it all cost?

What ~else~ to look for in tax software

And if you want to know more about what we think about specific providers, check out our roundup of the best tax software, or our detailed reviews of H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, FreeTax USA and TurboTax.

How we picked and tested

Any tax software worth recommending has to compile and file your taxes correctly and find you the biggest refund to which you’re entitled. The best results can have as much to do with your outlook and experience as with your income and deductions. If filing your taxes intimidates you, April 1can be the worst day of the year, no matter if you have just two tax forms or a stack thicker than a Tolkien novel. And if that’s the case, you should value software that provides a lot of guidance and won’t allow you to skip a step accidentally. If, on the other hand, tax prep is just another chore that you’re comfortable with, you may prefer to save a few bucks on software and get to the point as quickly as possible.

While the fees vary dramatically, even the most expensive tax software is still cheaper than most in-person preparation services, and is definitely cheaper than a major error on your taxes. That fact made us focus on finding the best option rather than the cheapest.

This year we returned to our top performers from years past, TurboTax, TaxAct, and H&R Block. We also reconsidered TaxSlayer, which had undergone major updating since we last used it in 2014, as well as Credit Karma, which launched a completely free tax-preparation service this year. (Credit Karma services, including tax filing, are funded by referral fees from customized offers for financial products.) Through the IRS Free File partnership, at least 1sites let people who qualify file their federal taxes for free; as in previous years, we didn’t test smaller, less feature-packed offerings, since our picks are also available free through that program.

Pull Quote

Even the most expensive tax software is still cheaper than most in-person preparation services, and is definitely cheaper than a major error on your taxes.

In addition, we revisited some of the people we created as “fake filers” in previous years. For 2017, we created five detailed taxpayer profiles to run through four of our candidate services. (Credit Karma checks taxpayer ID numbers against credit-bureau databases, so it was impossible for us to use our fake filers there. A few Wirecutter staff members offered themselves as sacrifices guinea pigs instead.) Our filers presented different levels of complexity, ranging from a single man with a job and an apartment to an independent contractor with a home, stocks, rental property, and federal-marketplace health insurance. In the middle were an indebted student, a 20-something with a low-paying job and a side hustle, and a married couple with two children and a mortgage.

No tax suite knows something the others don’t know. If you were to enter the same information correctly in each one, the result should always be the same. The difference is in how each app guesses at and phrases the questions it needs to ask you in the “interview,” and how effective those questions are at eliciting the right answers. Since the apps all use the same tax forms under the hood, the companies behind these tools compete aggressively on pricing, offerings, support, and other differentiators. Each one, for example, offers some version of a “Maximum Refund Pledge,” where it waives your fee if you end up with a larger calculated tax refund from entering the same data in any other tax-prep tool.

Jim was the only fake filer to receive a refund this year. Without hunting for our errors, we noticed that many of our results varied this year. They shouldn’t—all software is based on the same forms, so variation in the results means something went wrong.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The biggest drawbacks to using TurboTax aren’t in the software itself but in Intuit’s presentation of sales opportunities—and, more broadly, in some of the business practices the company has engaged in since it started selling accounting software in 198TurboTax’s brand-name domination of the tax-return category has led Intuit to make some not-so-customer-friendly moves.

Deduct software from refund

In 2015, TurboTax moved all of the schedule forms from its desktop TurboTax Deluxe software to higher-priced packages without notice; customer anger followed. It later backed down and offered free upgrades, but the incident signaled the company’s willingness to switch things around and introduce fees when you’re already deep in the process. And back in 2003, TurboTax for Windows automatically installed SafeCast spyware. The online TurboTax software is seemingly clear of such fake-outs and tracking tools, but it’s bad precedent, and Intuit has enough of a history of this behavior that it warrants consideration.

Upsells and extras you should avoid

In general, most people can skip all of these fees easily. You’ll find some or all of these extras in our picks, as well as in most of the competition.

Don’t pay for document storage. You’ll likely scan all your supporting documents anyway, and the software will provide you with a finished copy of your return when you’re done. Save all the PDFs to your hard drive, and be sure to back them up.

Don’t pay for audit services (probably). Around percent of taxpayers get audited, and very few of them have standard returns with a W-and a couple of simple deductions. If you’re worried your return has something on it that may raise a flag—and this concern applies mostly to certain business owners, people claiming extraordinary itemized deductions, or those with abnormal incomes—you should probably be using a tax professional anyway.

Why it’s important to have a human handy if you get lost

Some Wirecutter editors have capably filed their own taxes—with freelance income, itemized deductions, and attached schedules—through TurboTax for years. So it certainly can be done. But if your tax situation is complicated, you may be in over your head using online tax software.

The beginning of a long, long road to declaring unpaid mileage in TurboTax.

Tax preparer Mark Francis noted that the solitary, repetitive nature of tax software, making you click Yes or No to get to the end, engenders more hasty action than answering a human being. Tax suites ask you, “Do you have any of these expenses related to your work as a (masonry contractor)?” followed by blank fields for “Contract work,” “Licensing,” “Tools,” and the like. A professional might ask you how you get your work done, and note that, since you live in a snowy city, you probably spent some amount keeping your work truck from getting snowed in. And surely a tax pro would know that if two parents are working, the childcare tax credit we missed in TaxAct would be a juicy opportunity for savings.

Simply put, the more questions and empty boxes you fill out, in any of the software suites, the more chances for errors and missed opportunities, which can compound from form to form. No matter how automated and friendly the interface, you need to pay attention to every screen you see.

Kat Tretina

When I was living on my own and working my first job, I decided (wrongly) to do my taxes myself. But I had no idea how to file taxes, and because I was utterly clueless, I made several costly errors.

I missed out on important deductions and credits. I forgot essential forms. Even worse, I messed up the math.

I ended up owing money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) because of my mistakes, but it was a lesson well learned. Now, I do my homework and prepare well in advance for tax season to ensure I don’t make any mistakes.

If you’ve never done your taxes yourself, don’t make the mistake of trying to figure it out on your own. Instead, this guide will help you learn how to file your taxes — the right way.

Documents you need to file taxes

When you’re preparing to do your taxes, collect all the necessary documents ahead of time. It’s common for forms to trickle in slowly, so designating a spot just for tax documents can help you keep track of everything you need. Filing taxes is much easier — and less painful — when you’re organized.

Here are some common documents and information you might need to file your taxes:

W-2: A W-is a form your part-time or full-time employer sends you. It shows how much money you made in the past year and how much you paid toward taxes, Social Security, and Medicare.

1098: If you made interest payments on your student loans, your lender will send you a 109stating how much interest you paid last year.

1095-A: If you got health insurance through Healthcare.gov, the government will send you a 1095-A form. This states that you had qualifying coverage for the year.

1099-INT: If you earned interest from any savings accounts or dividends over the year, your bank will send you a form. This will show how much interest you earned.

Bank account routing number: To get your tax refund as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to sign up for direct deposit when you file your return. To do so, you’ll need your bank account number and your routing number.

Expenses and receipts: If you landed a new job, relocated to advance your career, or attended business conferences, you can deduct associated costs. Make sure you keep receipts handy when you do your taxes.

Know your deductions and credits

Tax credits reduce what you owe in taxes, while tax deductions lower your taxable income. Both are valuable items to consider when doing your taxes and can help you get your maximum refund.

But you might be eligible for certain credits or deductions, even if you don’t itemize. Here are seven of the most common credits and deductions:

Charitable Donation Deduction: If you donated money or items to a nonprofit organization, you might be able to deduct the value on your taxes.

File your tax return

When it comes to filing your taxes, you must file both a federal and state return. If you lived in multiple states last year, you need to file a return for each state in which you resided.

Figuring out how to file taxes with your state’s government is dependent on where you live. For example, you don’t need to file a state return if you live in a place that doesn’t charge income tax. There are seven states that fit into this category:

In New Hampshire and Tennessee, the states only tax income from interest or dividends, not your wages from your job or other sources of income.

You can electronically submit your federal and state returns using tax software, or you can mail in your tax forms. If you plan to mail in paper tax forms, check the IRS website to find the correct address.

How to request a tax extension

You can submit an extension request online or by mailing Form 486to the IRS. The address you submit your request to is dependent on where you live, so make sure you check the IRS form to find the correct one.

An extension can give you a reprieve in filing your return. But if you owe any money to the IRS, you are required to pay it by April 1If you miss that deadline, you could owe late fees and penalties.

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U.S. Tax Code Offers Breaks To Homeowners

This article is current for the 201tax year and should not be considered tax advice. For tax-related questions or mortgage strategy related to your individual tax liability, speak with a licensed accountant.

The 201tax year is underway.

It won’t be months until U.S. consumers begin receiving such tax-related forms as the W-2, the 1099, and, for homeowners, the 1098, which is also known as the Mortgage Interest Statement. However, it’s never too soon to start planning for your annual federal and state income tax deductions.

The U.S. tax code offers incentives to homeowners, and by taking advantage of these breaks, 1040-filing citizens can maximize their financial investment in homeownership.

Whether a home is financed via a mortgage, or paid-in-full with cash, there are a multitude of tax-savings opportunities associated with owning a home — even at current mortgage rates which are the lowest since May 2013.

Of course, every homeowner’s financial situation is different, so please consult with a tax professional regarding your individual tax liability.

Home Improvements

For tax-paying homeowners, certain types of home improvement projects are tax-deductible. Home improvements made for medical reasons, for example, can be tax-deductible. If you are making home renovations to accommodate a chronically ill or disabled person, and the renovations do not add to the overall value of the home, the project costs are typically 100% tax deductible. Repairs and improvements made for aesthetic purposes are not tax-deductible.

Home Offices

Homeowners who work from their residence can typically deduct the expenses of maintaining a qualified home office. Allowable tax deductions for a home office include renovations to the room(s), telephone lines, and the cost of heat and electric. Before claiming a home office on your returns, though, be sure to speak with an accountant to understand the benefits and liabilities. There are caveats to claiming home office tax deductions on your tax returns, and the rules can be tricky.

Budget For Your Tax Breaks

Tax deductions will reduce your annual costs of homeownership and, for some homeowners, mortgage interest tax deductions affect the math of the “Should I Rent or Should I Buy?” question.

Tax law changes frequently, though. Consider building your housing budget with the help of a tax preparer. Get a feel for how much home you can afford before and after accounting for your various homeowner tax breaks.

And, as you build your budget, use legitimate mortgage rates in your calculations. Historical mortgage rates are much higher than today’s low rates and can skew your calculations.

Furthermore, the tax deductibility of a mortgage will vary by the length of your loan.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages have become increasingly popular as interest rates have dropped, but the deductibility of a 15-year loan is decidedly less than that of a 30-year loan. This is because homeowners pay approximately 65% less mortgage interest over time with a 15-year mortgage as compared to a 30-year.

Less interest paid means fewer mortgage interest tax deductions.

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Resale Value

Another big concern some shoppers have about buying a used electric vehicle is resale value. Specifically, drivers wonder if the value of electric vehicles will start to suffer as the cars get older and their battery life begin depletes.

In reality, we’re not entirely sure how this one will play out. Most hybrid cars, which suffer from the same potential battery technology problems as electric vehicles, still offer strong resale value. It’s hard to know exactly how EVs will hold up over time; even the oldest ones are only a few years old.

You still have to pay Income Tax after you’ve retired.

This applies to all your pension income, including the State Pension.

Many people assume that their pension income – especially the State Pension – will be tax free, but that’s not the case.

Some income, including your State Pension, is paid without any tax being taken off.

But if tax is due, this will often be collected by taking money off any company pension payments or when you take money out of a workplace or personal pension.

Income Tax personal allowances

You are able to earn or receive up to £11,500 in 2017-1tax year (April 6th to April 5th the next year) and not pay any tax.

This is called your Personal Allowance. If you earn or receive less than this then you’re a non-taxpayer.

How your pension is taxed

You can normally withdraw up to 25% of your pension pot tax free.

The remaining pot is used to provide an income or can also be withdrawn; in both cases this is taxable.

That means any money you receive over your Personal Allowance will be taxed.

Defined contribution pensions

From April 201you are able to take as much money out of your pension as you want.

However, usually only the first 25% will be tax free. The rest is taxable.

That means, the more money you take out, the higher your tax bill could be.

Legal advice

It is strongly recommended that you choose an independent lawyer who is specialised in Spanish land law (urbanismo). Independent means that they work on your behalf only and are not also looking after the interests of the agent or developer. The Spanish property conveyancing system is different to the UK system so you should ensure that those involved in the transaction are qualified and experienced in Spain.

Exercise extreme caution if an estate agent, promoter or lawyer urges you to cut corners to save money or time.

A Spanish notary public will be involved in preparing the contract of sale and issuing the public deeds. As the purchaser, you have the right to choose which notary you use. The notary is a public servant who has a duty to provide you with free and impartial legal advice on all aspects of the contract before you sign. It is a good idea to seek advice from the notary early on. When a date is set for signing the contract, you have three days beforehand to visit the notary and ask any questions you may have about any aspect of the contract. A full list of English-speaking notaries can be found here

If you choose to work with a British estate agent, promoter or lawyer, check that they are qualified, reliable and have experience operating in Spain. Check that they are registered with the Law Society in the UK and specialise in International Transactions. If your lawyer is based in Spain, ask for their registration number and check that they are registered and practising with the local bar association (Colegio de Abogados).

You should also check that your lawyer has professional indemnity insurance and not sign any papers or hand over any money until you have taken independent legal advice. Although the British Embassy cannot recommend a lawyer, we do have lists of local English-speaking lawyers and qualified translators available on our website.

Please bear in mind that if you do become involved in a property dispute, you may need to seek a new lawyer with specific expertise in the field of litigation you wish to pursue, e.g. specialist civil lawyers for compensation claims against private parties such as agents, developers or banks, and specialist public body litigants (contencioso administrativo) for claims against local, regional or state authorities.


If you do not have a good understanding of Spanish, make sure that you get all contracts and relevant documentation translated by an independent translator. You can find a list of accredited translators and interpreters in Spain on the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs website.


The Spanish tax authority is called the Agencia Tributaria. It provides some information on its website in English.

Brief information on taxation is provided within the Living in Spain guide.

Further information is available in the property fraud guidance.

Complaints against the legal system

If you believe your lawyer has been negligent and has not met their obligations, you should complain in the first instance to the provincial bar association. If the response is unsatisfactory, you can take your complaint to the regional and then national bar associations. Complaints should be in writing and in Spanish. A full list of the bar associations around Spain can be found on the website of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers.

If you have a complaint about the way a court has handled your case, you can present a complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary.

If you have a complaint against a notary or gestor administrativo, this should be directed to the professional council of which they are a member.

Please see our separate guide on Residency requirements in Spain.

Short-term lets

If you want to let your property to tourists on a short-term basis, you must ensure that you are doing so in accordance with Spanish law. The regulations on letting tourist apartments (apartamentos turisticos) and holiday homes (viviendas vacacionales) to tourists will vary depending on the region where the property is located.

If you are planning on making a return by renting out your property on a short-term basis, it is best to seek independent legal advice and check what the rules are at the local town hall or the tourist department of the regional government before you buy. Be aware that the marketing of private residential property to tourists is strictly regulated in many regions of Spain.

Owners who are caught illegally advertising or letting out their properties without complying with local legislation can be liable for significant fines, in some cases reaching as much as €30,000.

If you are planning to buy an apartment which is part of a residential block, you should also check whether there are any rules set by the committee of owners that prohibit or restrict short-term letting.

You may want to consider hiring a Spanish letting agent to assist with finding tenants, drawing up rental contracts and managing the property on your behalf. In some regions, such as Murcia, it is obligatory to use a specialist tourist apartment management company for short-term rentals to tourists.

Long-term lets

Owners who let their properties on a long-term basis are free to do so within the terms set out by the national rental law. However, it is worth seeking professional advice to make sure that you are complying with Spanish legislation and that you are using the correct rental contract.

In Spain, there are different types of contracts depending on how long the property is due to be let. You can get copies of these contracts from tobacconists.

Letting taxes

You must ensure that you declare your rental income to the Spanish tax authorities (Agencia Tributaria) whether you are resident in Spain or not. Taxation is a complex issue, and it is advisable to seek the advice of an accountant or professional tax adviser with comprehensive and up to date knowledge of both the UK and Spanish tax regulations.

Tax preparation software packages

There are a few tax preparation software packages available to prepare your tax return, such H&R Block at Home, Tax Slayer or TaxACT and TurboTax.

TurboTax is one of the most common ones in the US and is designed to guide users through their tax return step by step without any specific prior knowledge or experience.

It is available for both state and federal income tax returns and offers users an additional feature for their self-prepared returns called ‘Audit Defense’ from TaxResources, Inc.

Deductions and tax credits

The IRS specifies that deductions must be ‘ordinary and necessary’ expenses. In other words, they should be reasonable and used while you are working for Uber. They have to be bought during the tax year AND you have to intend to use them in your driving business.

There are a lot of grey areas in the IRS code, and more so because of the newness of ridesharing. Unless you love tax research and are pretty tax savvy, I definitely recommend going to a tax professional or at least investing in a tax preparation program for self-employed individuals using Schedule C.

Car and truck expenses: standard mileage vs. actual expenses

The biggest deduction you will have is your car expenses. These are recorded on line of Schedule C.

There are methods for deducting auto expenses. These methods are referred to as Standard Mileage and Actual Expenses. It is best to calculate your deduction using both methods and use the one that gives you the biggest amount.


Make sure not to just use the miles Uber provides you with. This only includes the miles driven with passengers in your car. You can deduct all the miles driven while you are working for Uber like driving around waiting for ride requests, driving to a passenger, driving home after dropping off a passenger, and the driving you may do before a ride is canceled.

Since Uber doesn’t track the mileage for these extra commutes, you’ll be responsible for keeping records on this mileage. Probably the best way to figure this out is to start recording miles as soon as you turn on your app and are ready to start working.

Actual car expenses

Actual car expenses include gas, oil, licenses, tolls, insurance, parking fees, garage rent, registration fees, repairs, and tires. You can also deduct depreciation of your vehicle and lease payments. If you made major repairs to your vehicle in order to comply with Uber’s guidelines, this method may be more favorable.

As with all expenses however, you can only deduct the percentage used for business. In order to arrive at that amount, you divide your business miles by your total miles.

You basically need to keep track of your miles for either method you use. So multiply those business miles by the IRS standard rate (currently 57.for 2015) and add parking fees and tolls. Then, use the larger amount on your tax return.

Personal vs. business use expenses

Uber drivers are going to have a lot of expenses that are used personally as well as work related. You can pretty much gauge when you are working for Uber and when you’re not. The following is some expenses that could be considered personal so you want to make sure to keep good records of when they are used for work.

Some examples would be

For safety reasons, you may have purchased a seat belt cutter or safety hammer in case of an accident.

If you already had these items, you cannot deduct their cost. However, if you bought them for the purpose of using them while you are driving passengers, you could deduct a portion or possibly the entire cost. Some of these are grey areas. Keep good records, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

In this section

Taxation for landlords is an increasingly complex area and, with several changes recently introduced and several still pending or in consultation phase, it’s very difficult to give specific advice when the goalposts are continually being moved.

This guide is intended as an overview of the main aspects of taxation that will apply to most landlords. For specific advice about your situation we would strongly recommend speaking to an accountant.

The golden rule here is you must declare to the Inland Revenue (HMRC) any income derived from property, even if you do not make a profit. Any profit made is taxable and it is effectively added to any other income you receive in the same tax year, your tax liability is then calculated relevant to your total income, but there are certain things that can offset your total liability.

If you make a loss in a tax year on income from a rental property, this tax loss can be offset against profits made on another rental property or against future profits derived from property.

Capital Gains Tax & Inheritance Tax

Depending on your long-term plans for the property you should consider the impact of both Capital Gains Tax – which will affect you if you decide to sell a rental property, or Inheritance Tax if you leave property to your family on your death.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)is payable when you sell a property that is not your only or main home. The tax payable is calculated against the profit you make when selling – as mentioned earlier, you can offset capital expenditure here, for example Stamp Duty fees when purchasing the property, renovation work to improve the property etc.. You also receive relief (private residence relief) for any time where you have lived in the property as your main home. Individuals also receive an annual CGT tax-free allowance, which is currently £11,100.  Any profit above this will be taxed at the prevailing rate.

Inheritance Tax

This is a tax on everything you leave in your estate when you die. The liability is calculated on any amount above the Inheritance Tax threshold (currently £325,000 for an individual or £650,000 for a married couple or civil partnership). This threshold is set to rise to £500,000 for an individual by tax year 2020/202with the allowance for married couples and civil partnerships rising to £1,000,000).

If you have a significant property portfolio you may wish to consider an Inheritance Tax planning strategy to lower the tax liability for your loved ones. Again, specialist advice is recommended here to take your specific situation into account.

Defining Your Needs

The purchase of life insurance is an important decision for both you and your family. There are many reasons why life insurance policies or annuity contracts are purchased, but these reasons should be based upon your financial planning needs. Factors such as your marital status, number of dependents and cost for their support, future education needs, current and anticipated family income, and your current assets and debt obligations all play a role in determining the amount of life insurance that is right for you.

Choosing the Amount of Life Insurance

Your need for life insurance will vary with your age and responsibilities. The amount of insurance you buy should depend on the standard of living you wish to assure for your dependents. You should consider the amount of assets and sources of continuing income available to your dependents when you pass away. Simply stated, you should choose an amount of life insurance that is determined necessary to meet the needs you are trying to satisfy. A balance needs to be achieved in this process. To be over-insured can negatively affect your budget and threaten your long range financial goals just as much as being under-insured can. While each person must individually assess their responsibilities, needs, and financial situation, it is important to be careful to choose an amount of life insurance that reflects your specific circumstances without under-insuring or over-insuring.

Steps To Determine How Much Life Insurance You Need

Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to move ahead and contact several life insurance companies (through an agent or broker) to shop for the right type of policy for you. There are many reasons for purchasing life insurance, among which are the following:

Group Insurance

Many employers offer life insurance under a group plan and sometimes pay part or all of the premium. A medical exam is usually not required for insurance purchased this way, and the insurance can be less expensive than coverage purchased as an individual. Under California law, group life insurance must be convertible to permanent insurance at the insured’s option when the insured’s coverage under the group policy terminates. The converted policy will probably be much more expensive than the group insurance. Some employers will allow insurance companies to send agents or enrollers to their premises in order to offer insurance to their employees. Policies offered in this manner are different from group insurance, and you should evaluate the materials shown to you in the same way as if you were considering a purchase of an individual policy through an agent.

Sales Illustrations

It is likely that an agent will show you one or more life insurance sales illustrations. An illustration consists of a series of numbers indicating how the policy works. The illustration usually shows the guaranteed results under the policy for each year in the future, and the results if all the nonguaranteed items continue at their present level. Actual results may be better or worse than the nonguaranteed amounts shown in the illustration (but not worse than those that are guaranteed).

Using Indexes

Your chances of finding a good buy on a life insurance policy is better if you use the index numbers that have been developed to aid you in shopping for life insurance. The Buyer’s Guide that each insurer is required to provide to a purchaser explains these index numbers in detail. They are good tools to help you compare the merits of similar policies.

Banks and Brokerage Firms

Products developed by life insurance companies are sometimes marketed through banks and brokerage firms. The person who sells you a life insurance policy or annuity should be a licensed life insurance agent, and in the case of a variable annuity, a licensed securities dealer. If you purchase an annuity through these sources, you should ask for the name of the insurance company, since they are the ones who will be managing your money.


A fixed deferred annuity always contains guarantees. For example, it might guarantee that the interest rate on the funds accumulating in your policy will be at least 4%. The guarantees are conservative, so that the company will be able to pay you the guaranteed amounts, even if conditions are very bad. Today, most companies pay greater amounts than they guarantee, but do not promise to continue to do that indefinitely. If you are shown any tables of numbers illustrating how the annuity might grow in the future, you should keep in mind that the nonguaranteed numbers could turn out to be lower or higher than those shown.

You should also ask questions about the amounts you will receive if you decide to surrender your annuity, and find out the difference between the accumulation value and the amount you will receive. It is important to make sure that you receive all guarantees in writing for both life insurance and annuities.

Information Sources

Additional information about life insurance companies can be found by reading insurance company rating services reports. Five major insurance rating companies grade insurers on their financial health and ability to pay claims. These companies are:

Beware of Any Agent Who…

Your best defense against an ill-advised replacement or change to your life insurance policy or annuity is knowledge. The more you know and understand about your current policy and the proposed new policy, as well as the company and the representative, the better equipped you will be to make the best decision. Remember, if you intend to replace or change an existing coverage, you should be sure that the agent selling the new policy has your best interests at heart, and bases the purchase recommendation on an appropriate needs analysis. Agents have a duty to inquire about your current coverage. Once on notice, the regulatory steps designed to protect you should occur.

Shopping Tips

Purchasing the right insurance that meets your needs can be challenging. Insurance can be one of the most important ongoing purchases you make to protect yourself and your family from financial hardship. Since your needs and financial situation change over time, it is important to understand and review your insurance policies to decide if the same policies are still right for you. If you are considering buying, reviewing or replacing insurance, then the following insurance tips can be of assistance:

You Don’t Understand

The Department of Insurance cannot make recommendations concerning life insurance or annuity products. However, you may contact the CDI for informational guides on all types of insurance such as Auto, Home, Life, Annuities, Health, Medicare Supplement, and Long Term Care. The CDI can assist you with any insurance question, concern, or problem. You can reach us toll-free at 1-800-927-435or Contact Us online.

This guide is intended to address some of the more common issues faced by consumers when making life insurance decisions. However, it does not address all the issues which may affect someone intending to purchase, replace, or change a life insurance policy.

Obvious But Forgotten Ways to Save on Home Repairs

Fixing up your house this summer? Take note of these tips on how to save on home repairs from H&R Block.

As end-of-year approaches, taxes owed can become a major headache. Plan ahead by considering 52Tax Deductions and other end-of-year savings options.

You may be curious as to how you can lose weight on a budget. Join H&R Block as we explore healthy meal ideas that can help you can lose weight and save money!

Guest Contributor

Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

Help Along the Way

Even if a query is clearly worded, you may still be unsure whether you’re supposed to supply information, and what that information might be. Tax websites help you understand those confusing elements in a variety of ways. They might turn a word or phrase into a hyperlink that opens a small window containing a more detailed explanation. Likewise, they might anticipate your questions and post links to related Q&As, right on the pages that might spur you to ask the question. This kind of context-sensitive help is extremely important. If you need to consult any of the other methods of help detailed below, it means that the service has failed to anticipate your needs, your time has been wasted, and your blood pressure has probably gone up, too. Sites that lack good context-sensitive help are heavily penalized in our reviews.

Still, no service can anticipate every contingency or question. Most tax preparation applications offer as a second tier of help giant databases of tax information that you can search if you’re really stuck. Some offer glossaries, too. You may be directed occasionally to read IRS instructions or peruse an IRS publication, but that should be vanishingly rare in a good service. After all, IRS documents are free, and, unless you’re using Credit Karma Tax, you’re largely paying for the convenience of not reading IRS documents. The IRS is, of course, the last word on taxes, but creating lucid, reassuring guides is not one of its notable strengths.

If all that isn’t enough, you might want to interact with a real human being. These sites offer connections to tax professionals that might occur via chat, email, or phone. Jackson Hewitt and TaxSlayer are the only two services we’ve reviewed to offer all three methods, this year. TurboTax provides the most innovative and potentially the fastest way to get human help. Its SmartLook creates a connection between you and a tax expert. You see them talking to you live on your screen. At the same time, they can see where you’re having trouble by viewing your screen and troubleshooting your problem. If you’re wondering how TurboTax can be so expensive and yet win an Editors’ Choice award, features like this that are part of the answer. One note: if you think you’re likely to need to rely on this kind of direct contact with your tax service, you’re much better off doing your taxes early. Otherwise they might be overwhelmed by last-minute e-filers.

When you’ve gone through all the screens that pertain to your financial situation, these sites review your work and point out possible errors and omissions. They also transfer applicable data to your state return if you have to file one. When all questions are answered and your return is cleaned up, they ask for payment before they help you print your actual IRS forms and schedules or e-file them.

File Your Schedule C

Last year, we reviewed the deluxe versions of the major tax preparation websites because they tend to be the most popular. This year, however we looked at top-of-the-line sites that support the Schedule C, given the growing freelance and independent contractor market.

All but one of sites we evaluated come in multiple versions with different price points—Credit Karma Tax being the one (free) exception. Every application in a given family looks and works like the others, but the more expensive they are, the more IRS forms and schedules they support. High-level editions also come with special features that are usually enhanced support options. You’ll need to check to make sure any particular features you’re interested in are included in a less expensive version, if you don’t need the top-tier software, but the ratings should reasonably well to the entire families of products, as they tend to share help systems, interfaces, support, and so on.

This Year’s Tax-Prep Lineup

Most of the names of this year’s offerings will be familiar if you’ve used tax applications before, but there’s a new one this year. Credit Karma Tax is from parent company Credit Karma, a service that monitors your credit reports and gives you weekly updates. It’s the only tax site that supports federal and state filing of complex returns at no cost, but it’s new enough that it still needs to grow a lot to compete with the other sites reviewed here.





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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your Tax Forms wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of Tax Forms



Questions? Leave a comment below!

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