2018 is coming to a close and it’s getting to that time of the year when you should be to look at your earnings for the year and what your tax return might look like.
With a host of products available online, we wanted to spotlight the TurboTax “TaxCaster” free online tax calculator in this review to give you an idea of the tax estimates and data you can obtain.
Intuit has been adding more and more “freemium” tools to its package online with TurboTax, and the latest calculator has us pretty impressed.
TurboTax TaxCaster Review
When you first browse to the TaxCaster page on Intuit’s site, you are greeted with a nice landing page and an open canvas approach. It looks great on both a desktop and mobile phone. The application is free to use, and you start by entering some basic tax data such as marital status, income, and withholdings. The screen updates real-time, and guides you through a wizard of selection choices.
As mentioned, the first impression of the TaxCaster is impressive. The interface is very fast and easy to use. However, one of the more difficult aspects to using the calculator is that you need some basic background on your tax situation farily early in the process. We recommend grabbing a copy of your most recent pay stub and any other tracking documents you have available for the tax calculator, as you will be able to reference information you will need.
For individuals that have more complex tax situations, there are some options within the TaxCaster. For example, if you own a home there is a module for the mortgage tax deduction, and for filers with children, there is an option for the child tax credit.
As you get into using the tool, the beauty of the TurboTax online tax calculator is that it continues to compile your information real-time on the screen. After about 5 minutes of quick entry, we gleaned a fairly accurate picture of what our tax filing situation was going to look like.
How Your Taxes are Calculated
The calculations behind the TurboTax TaxCaster are all based on general principles of accounting and the rules and laws set forth by the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov). It is important to have a basic understanding of how you pay your taxes, and with the plethora of tools available you can quickly familiarize yourself with a basic understanding of how taxes are calculated.
The key considerations for how much you pay in taxes include:
- How much total income your w2 form shows for the year, including wages, investments, side-jobs, and more.
- Once you calculate your total income, you can determine what your tax bracket will be, which is published annually by the IRS through its website
- To adjust your total income and tax bracket, you can utilize various functions such as tax deductions and tax credits which often times will lower the total taxes due
Online Tax Calculators: The Final Word
Online tools, such as the TurboTax TaxCaster are a great starting point to see how much you might owe the IRS, and the potential tax refund you might receive. The more variables involved in filling your taxes, the more complex the process can be.
Understanding these basic principles is a key part of managing your finances.