Here's How Long It Takes Most People To File Their Taxes By Themselves
The good thing about knowing Tax Day is always around Apr. 15 (for instance, on Apr. 17 in 2018)? You know you will always have plenty of time to prepare, and you know exactly when your taxes need to be done to give you enough time to get all of your documents together so you can get your taxes done ahead of time. Well, you're supposed to do that, at least. Who among us hasn't waited until the very last minute, only to realize that Tax Day is actually a few days away, leaving you with absolutely no time to go to a professional? We've all been there: We're laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking about what we're going to do, and wondering how long it takes to file your taxes online by yourself. It's basically a rite of passage into adulthood.
In all seriousness, though, getting your taxes done is a major priority. If you're running out of time to get everything together before Tax Day, you might not be able to score an appointment with an accountant, or even at a place like H&R Block. Of course, getting an appointment with a trained professional is obviously ideal. They know what they're doing and can get everything done for you quickly and efficiently — and they take care of all of the annoying details so that you don't need to get into the nitty gritty of taxes. It's nice to have someone else handle your money sometimes!
But, if you can't get an appointment, the good news is that you aren't totally out of luck. You can do your taxes online, on your own, from the comfort of your home. Not only will this keep you from getting in trouble with the government (which you definitely don't want to deal with), but it will also save you a little bit of money. Tax professionals are great, but they can be pricey!
So how long does it take to file your taxes online? Or, in other words, is this something you can do at the very last minute, like, say, Apr. 14? Probably not! You've already left this until pretty late in the game, so if you're going to do your taxes online, you'll want to start as soon as possible.
Why should you get started sooner rather than later? It can take a while to file your taxes online, although that time does vary depending on how you're filing and which tax forms you're using. According to the IRS, it can take about 13 hours for the average taxpayer to do their return, which includes record keeping, tax planning, form submission, and other activities.
Now, of course, that number will vary. Fool.com says that non-business filers spend an average of eight hours on their tax returns, which includes record keeping, filling out a form, and tax planning. If you have a business, though, the time increases significantly to about 24 hours. Record keeping for any kind of business takes a really long time. The number of time also depends on the form you're using. Fool.com says that the version of the 1040 form you choose reflects the complexity of your taxes, and that "total preparation times vary from five hours for a 1040-EZ to 16 hours for a standard 1040 form."
The amount of time it takes depends on other factors as well. If you're super organized with your paperwork and tax forms, then you might find that filing your tax return takes a little less time because you don't have as much prep work. If you are really bad with numbers, have never done your own taxes before, and/or kind of feel like you have no idea what you're doing, filing is obviously going to take a lot longer. For example, one couple wrote that it takes them about a week to file their taxes online.
Don't let that time discourage you, though: there are plenty of advantages to filing your taxes online. It's cheaper, it gives you more control, and you usually get your return check back faster. Plus, once you're done, you'll feel a really great sense of accomplishment. Good luck, and get moving!