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How to Estimate Your Tax Return for 2012

Updated on January 14, 2013

Those of us who are expecting a large income tax refund tend to get excited, and antsy as tax time approaches.

At our house it almost feels as if we are holding on by a thread, in such great need of our refund just to pull us out of one of life's little black holes.

As soon as I can get my hands on my last paycheck stub of the year, I hit one of the free tax estimators. It's a simple little process, and It gives me a good general idea of what I am going to get back.

I also have a near and dear relative that uses it to find out what he is going to be paying in to the Internal Revenue Service. It's the one time of the year that I don't wish I had his money.

There are several different online tax estimators available online for free this year. There are three in particular that seem to be easier, and far more accurate over the competition.

Turbo Tax, H&R Block, and E-file were my top picks and I tested roughly ten different sites that were free to use. Out of those 10 sites, these three shined brighter than the rest with accuracy and ease of use being my main focus.

I also used the paper forms from the IRS, just so I could judge the sites using the correct refund amount. E-file projected an extra $500 on my refund, that I am not getting when I follow the tax book. Do they know something that I don't, or is it an estimation error?

Turbo tax, and H&R Block were only $5.00 apart from each others estimate, which gave me a difference of $12 and $17 from my own tax figures.

Now of course you should never file your taxes using your paycheck stub. I use this method for estimation purposes only! I always wait until I get my W-2 before I actually file my tax return.

This year the IRS isn't accepting any tax returns until the 30th of January 2013, due to the late tax law changes...very disappointing! You can click here to read the official IRS statement.

However if you file electronically using Turbo Tax you can prepare your taxes, and they will hold it until it's time.

You won't be filing early or anything this way, but at least you will be among the first few in line. I'm sure the other tax preparers will also be offering this service as well.

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