It took me under an hour to file my taxes this year thanks to a time-saving strategy that's available to anyone

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  • Tax Day 2019, the last day to file your 2018 tax return, is Monday, April 15.
  • I filed my tax return for free through H&R Block just a few days after the IRS tax-filing season began on January 28. It took about an hour, and I should get my tax refund within 21 days.
  • I discovered a time-saving trick for filing taxes: Stick with the same tax preparer every year.
  • When you file with an online tax preparer, it saves your tax return to speed up the process next year.

I filed my taxes just a few days after the 2019 IRS tax-filing season began on January 28 and it was a breeze.

I lit a candle, poured a glass of iced tea, and successfully filed in just under an hour. It’s only my second time filing taxes on my own, but I think I’ve discovered a trick to speeding up the process: Stick with the same tax preparer every year.

For me, that happens to be H&R Block, in part because it offers no-fee filing for both federal and state returns. For you it may be TurboTax, TaxAct, Liberty Tax, or one of several others listed on the IRS’s Free File Software Lookup tool.


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The IRS says about 90% of Americans file electronically, as it’s the best way to “minimise errors and speed up refunds.” The IRS said at the start of tax season that filing should be “seamless” for e-filers, despite changes from the new tax laws, and I found that to be true (granted, I do have a fairly simple tax situation, with no mortgage or dependents to speak of).

Once you file your taxes using your choice of e-filer, your tax return will be saved to your account. When next tax season rolls around, you won’t have to drudge up physical copies of previous tax returns to report adjusted gross income (AGI), or risk falling victim to human error.

Last year, my first time filing with H&R Block, I had a physical copy of my 2016 tax return because I’d paid an accountant to file my taxes that year. The tax return listed my 2016 AGI – a figure I needed to input in order to file my 2017 taxes. I submitted my federal return only to get a text from H&R Block a few hours later saying it was “rejected” and wouldn’t be processed until I fixed the error.


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It turns out I misreported my 2016 AGI by a hair – I was looking at the wrong box on the form. I corrected the number and resubmitted the return. It only took five minutes, but it gave me anxiety to have an outstanding “error” and I left the happy hour I was at early to fix it.

This year, H&R Block had my 2017 return on file and used it to autofill the section where I would have needed to manually input my 2017 AGI. Human error, be gone.

Also, since H&R Block had my 2017 return on file, it showed me a side-by-side comparison of my 2017 and 2018 tax returns, including any deductions and the size of my refund. For a personal finance junkie like me, that’s pretty cool.

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