The IRS provides downloadable versions of a complete range of federal tax forms on their website, and some state governments also offer downloadable forms for you to fill in and submit. If you have a tax software program, however, that software program will save your tax files in a different format than the downloadable forms offered by the government. Finding programs that open tax files can seem complicated, but as long as your tax files are not damaged or deleted, a solution exists to help you recover them.
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Adobe Reader 9
Adobe Reader 9 is a free software program that you can download directly from Adobe to open and access PDF files. The tax forms available to you on government websites are all available as PDF documents, and Adobe Reader 9 is sufficient to open, fill and save information in these tax files. Adobe Reader 9 allows you to save typed data into the form as long as the creator of the document enabled that function, and tax forms have been designed specifically to allow you to save your tax information into the form to submit your tax return and keep tax files for your records.
Adobe Acrobat 9
Adobe Acrobat 9 is the complete PDF software program available from Adobe and costs $299 for the basic version. Adobe Acrobat 9 will also allow you to download, fill and save information into PDF tax files, but also includes additional functions like saving PDF files as Microsoft Word files. If you have Adobe Acrobat 9 or another PDF software program, those programs will also allow you to open PDF tax forms.
Tax Software Programs
Tax software programs like TurboTax, MacinTax, TaxCut and Tax Act are the only programs that open tax files they create. If you prepare your taxes using one of these tax software programs, you will need to maintain the original software program to open the files at a later date. The tax files you create in these programs usually ends in a specific prefix like ".tax" that other programs cannot recognize. You can ensure that you are able to access your tax files later by exporting the files you create using a tax software program to PDF documents, which you will be able to open with a PDF reader or software program.
TaxPrinter is another option for people who prepared their tax files using a tax software program but don't have a copy of the software program they need to open the files. TaxPrinter is not a software program, but a service for accessing your old tax files. TaxPrinter maintains tax software programs from all major companies from 1996 to the present, and charges $29.99 to open federal returns and $59.99 to open state returns. TaxPrinter converts the tax files to PDF files for you and returns them for you to access or print using the new PDF document.