LOS ANGELES (1/26/16)--Pencil and calculator or computer and Internet access: More consumers are filing their income tax returns on their own.
For do-it-yourself filers, 34.5% use tax preparation software, while 8.5% still file taxes by hand, according to a GOBankingRates.com survey of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers.
Tax-filing software is popular because it can help automate calculations and file online. Costs range from very low ($0 to $10) for basic 1040 forms, increasing for more complex forms.
For taxpayers with incomes of $62,000 or less, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a free tax-filing service called Free File.
Many credit unions host Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs to help economically eligible taxpayers as well as elderly, disabled or non-English speaking taxpayersfile for free.
Manual filings, which have dropped to just 14.4% in 2015, require a steady and thoughtful approach. “If you're preparing your tax return manually, know that this method can increase the risk of mathematical errors, and you'll need to make sure you include all required supplemental information and schedules,” Motley Fool advised.
If taxpayers aren’t filing for themselves, they are hiring an accountant (28.5%), using brick-and-mortar companies like H&R Block (8.3%) or getting help from a friend or family member (10.9%).