hrblockIf you’re like me and procrastinated your tax return until the last minute, why not let an e-book do your taxes?

For those of us in the United States, it’s that time of year again. Monday, April 18, is the deadline for filing last year’s income tax so that Uncle Sam can afford to keep ticking along for another year. And every year it’s always the same old story for me—I put off doing my taxes until the last minute in the hope that they will somehow magically do themselves, yet somehow they never do.

And as I always do, I turned at the last minute to my faithful friend—a downloadable tax application. In my case, H&R Block 2015 Deluxe. It’s $35 at Amazon and includes tax software for one state filing, too. If Turbotax is more your thing, Amazon has that, too; it just costs a little more.

You may be wondering how I can call that an “e-book.” Well, the thing is, it seems to me there’s a lot of latitude these days in what gets called an “e-book.” If an e-book can be a multimedia presentation, or a stand-alone application that incorporates informational resources and even interactive activities, then why shouldn’t I be able to call a stand-alone application that incorporates informational resources and an interactive calculator for figuring your taxes an “e-book”? It’s an e-workbook, at the very least.

And just like many e-books, I bought it from Amazon and downloaded it directly onto my computer. Then, just as I could start reading an e-book on my Kindle within minutes of wanting to, I was entering my tax data within minutes of deciding I should finally get around to it.

My tax needs are relatively simple: W-2s from two full-time jobs last year, plus a 1099-MISC from TeleRead and a couple of health insurance forms. Nothing fancy. As I am every year, I was surprised at how relatively simple it was.

I just had to type in data off the forms, skip over a lot of options that didn’t apply to me, and then e-file it. The H&R Block software includes five free Federal e-filings—and as I’m getting a decent refund this year and didn’t need to worry about sending in money, that took all the worry out of it. I filled in my bank account details from a check, and in a few weeks it’ll be direct-deposited to my account. E-filing state tax costs $20, and since I ended up owing $5 to Indiana I decided not to bother with that. I saved my state tax form as a PDF, and in a little while I’ll go down to the local library, print it off, and mail in a check.

And there was an amusing bit of symmetry regarding my taxes and Amazon e-books this year. The H&R Block software has an offer this year to turn part of your refund into an Amazon gift card and tack on an extra 10%. If you put $200 into a gift card, H&R Block will send you a $220 gift card when the refund comes in. So not only did an e-book do my taxes, my tax refund will let me buy more e-books!

If you’ve procrastinated your way right up to the deadline, take heart—you’ve still got plenty of time to get it done. Just let an e-book do them. Then you can buy more e-books!


  1. Chris: “As I am every year, I was surprised at how relatively simple it was.”

    If it’s simple, you’re probably missing some deductions you could use to offset your income from Teleread. Some tax software makes that easy. Simply list those gadgets and software, and it’ll determine how quickly that deduction can be applied.

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