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The Tax Man…

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I’m facing my biggest foe this weekend… the IRS. This is the second year we have decided to prepare our taxes ourselves with free tax software. It’s a huge savings from the $200+ we were spending on our accountant but I’m always a little leery about dealing with the government on my own… and I work for the government.

That should tell you something.

We will still have to consult with a friend about some questions we have, but I’m hoping we’ll come out on top again. We got a huge chunk of cash back last year but we didn’t adjust our withholdings since our deductions were changing this year. I know Dave Ramsey yells at people who let the government withhold too much money, but since our deductions are far from predictable, we have to take a safe route.

I’ve cleared my schedule (and the living room floor), chilled a 6-pack of beer to keep hubby interested, and I think we’re ready.

Poll time!

Do you prepare your own taxes or pay an accountant?


24 Comments

  • Reply Jenn in Michigan |

    It depends on how complicated my taxes are in that particular year. Last year I paid someone, this year I e-filed them for free online. My taxes this year were pretty much the same so I can follow along with last year’s tax return as a check.

  • Reply Pamela |

    We are very fortunate that the military provides free tax preparation services. I did, however, want to know if I could manage it myself if I had to so I signed on to a free trial of Turbo Tax and came up with the same figure the tax preparer did! I’m with Jenn in Michigan – pretty standard stuff each year – income, tax paid, tax overpaid. We have a few itemized deductions for charity and home ownership expenses but that’s about it.

  • Reply Andy |

    We always use an accountant. Because my husband does some consulting throughout the year I am always nervous about trying to do them myself. I tend to over pay the quarterly taxes owed for his consulting work so we also usually get a chunk back at the end of the year. His parents think we are looney tunes for not adjusting our withholdings and over estimating the quarterly taxes, but we are not that stretched for cash. I would rather be cautious and get something back then have to write a big check at tax time.

    The $275 our CPA charges us is worth the peace of mind to me. The IRS is not something I ever want to be in trouble with. He knows the changes in the tax laws and also throws in a yearly review of our financial goals. This includes reviewing our retirement savings, debt repayment goals and seeing where we are in comparisan to the previous year with our over all financial “life”. It’s always eye opening to see the yearly picture because so often we get so caught up in the day to day.

    However, I also know that there are lots of people who are much much better with numbers and this sort of stuff than I am. If I could do it myself I probably would, but I am just too nervous I would mess it up.

  • Reply Maggie |

    I have always prepared my own except for the year (before Turbo Tax/H&R Block) where I knew I was having a brain fart so I took a box of Snyder’s pretzeld and a 12 pack of beer to my Uncle, the CPA who fixed it for me.

    Otherwise it has been H&R Block the last few years. Their question-answer style hits most of the high points but this year I forgot to put in last years State payment, so I have already filed an amentment.

    I also have a file folder labled “Taxes” and anything throguhout the year that even smells of taxes goes in the file (Statements, donation reciepts, thank you letters) so I don’t have to search for them.

  • Reply creditcardfree |

    I prepare our own taxes and I have since I had my first job (with the help of my dad). I use online versions now rather than pen and paper. It does help to compare the previous years taxes to the current year to make sure you didn’t overlook something you put on your return last year.

  • Reply Terry Lange |

    I have always used an accountant because my situation is never constant and does change from year to year. The individual I currently use in Florida keeps up on the laws and also is an Enrolled Agent who would be able to represent me before the IRS. It is the best money that I spend each year. I have been doing this for over 10 years.

  • Reply Jill |

    I do our taxes with the help of TurboTax. I finished up and filed them last weekend and yesterday got a corrected 1099 from Charles Schwab. I was none too happy about that (makes me so glad I’ve transferred all assets from them, btw. Just what I want to do — file an amendment. It comes out to a whole $7 in our favor but I’m afraid of the audit risk if I don’t file an amendment. Ugh.

  • Reply Nichole@40daysof |

    We do our own. And they are very complicated, as my husband’s business has to account for several different types of income. I gather all the paperwork and he actually fills everything out. It’s also very stressful, because his statement of income doesn’t come until beginning of April.

    It’s nice to live in a state with no state income tax. One less headache and one less grab into our pocketbook.

  • Reply Starr |

    My dad did them for me for years, last year we had them prepared, and this year I did them. It is a good thing I’m trained in tax preparation or else Turbo Tax would’ve done a few things that aren’t exactly right. Even then, the software did some weird things I couldn’t get rid of, so while the bottom line is correct, there are some strange detours the numbers took (claiming depreciation and then immediately recapturing it…unnecessary in our case). We had 15 tax documents to input, 3 states, and 1 local earnings return to file. I’m glad it won’t be like this next year.

  • Reply Eboo |

    We have a certified tax preparer do our taxes for us, although I gather all the receipts for business deductions and add them into one big number for them. I like to know how much I/the business spends each year on each and every category. This helps me to try to reduce amounts in each category when I am budgeting for the business for the year.

  • Reply emmi |

    The accountant screwed up the one time we hired one, so we use tax prep s/w. Whatever HR Block is offering a deal on.

    Taxes are like like spring cleaning, painful but healthy to do yourself.

  • Reply Amanda |

    I’ve always done my own, but I’m a student living at home, so mine have never really been complicated. I use TurboTax online and just pay the $30 for the state filing because the last time I tried to do state myself, Wisconsin’s online filing was a kind of fubar.

  • Reply Determined |

    We have a tax guy do ours. He is amazing and it is worth the $125. I worry I won’t do it right, I’ll forget something and won’t get the maximum amount back, or end up owing money.

  • Reply Natasha |

    I used to do them all on my own, until I married my ex. Then we went to H&R block. Once he & I divorced, I went back to doing them on my own.

    My fiance went to someone last year, because he wanted clarification. He got someone doing exactly what he’d do (plug into software), so he’ll be doing his own from now on.

  • Reply Ponyryd |

    Ever since the year I sat in a H&R Block office and helped the fool behind the desk fill out the information on his screen I have done them myself. No need to pay him to fill out screens on software I can buy myself.

    Plus I have been audited by the IRS and the only trouble was with the business taxes that my “accountant” did. Nothing on the personal taxes I had been doing. So now I do the business taxes myself as well.

  • Reply Brittany |

    I file my own using the free e-file services available to the IRS for those with incomes below a certain level. I used to use H&R Block but now I use TurboTax. I switched because I moved to another state and couldn’t get the state tax return done for free with H&R Block. What’s nice is that TurboTax saves last year’s information so I don’t have to re-enter it.

  • Reply Steady Plodder |

    We have someone do them for us simply to save the time and because we’ve worked with the same accountant for about 7 years. It’s easy to just send it all to him…plus we usually have some financial questions for him each year that he can help with at the same time. Each year we get a large refund back and we pay our accountant about 2% of the refund amount.

  • Reply Christine |

    I’m freelance, and I started using an accountant when I was working in multiple states every year… which would run me $300, tops. Now I work for 3 different companies, and have investment income to deal with, but I guess my taxes are less complicated, because he only charges me $200.

    I do a rough draft of my taxes to see what I come up with, but the accountant manages to beat my numbers every year, and that’s after subtracting his fee! He also had a 25-year career as an IRS agent, so not only am I comfortable that he knows what he’s doing, I hope that if I’m ever audited, his contacts with come in handy.

  • Reply Just Me Again |

    I’ve been doing my own since I was 19. When I was 18, H&R Block had given all the new grads in our high school a coupon for a free tax return. I watched the preparer do mine and was dumbfounded at how easy it was. I was also struck by the fact that I’d done a lot more of the work than she did, in gathering the records in the first place. That was the day I decided I could educate myself and handle my taxes on my own henceforth.

    As my life and my tax returns grew more complex, I was still able to keep up, but I’m happy to say that TaxCut and Turbo Tax came on the scene just as I really needed them.

    I find it best to check our withholding against the IRS calculators quarterly, so no matter how much our situation changes, we can make adjustments to our withholding accordingly throughout the year.

    I also start our return in mid-November with estimated figures, so there is still time to increase withholding if needed to avoid penalties. But the real advantage to starting so early is that by the time that the W-2s and 1099s arrive, I just have to make minor adjustments and file the return. There is NO high-anxiety and NO surprises that way!

  • Reply Dylan |

    My taxes are straight forward, and I could do them myself. My Dad does them for me, as he’s already doing them for himself & mom. For the last few years, I’ve done a dry run through with TurboTax online (as a guest), and then compare my numbers to Dad’s when he does them. It’s a nice double-check system for us. He can feel confident that I know how to do it, and we both know that the numbers are right.

  • Reply Jason |

    This may sound funny, but I actually really like doing my own taxes! Gives me some great insight into the type of life I lived over the past year (from a financial perspective anyway).

  • Reply Joan |

    I did my own. I mailed my returns the same day a co-worker efiled hers using turbo tax. She is receiving her refund with 10 days, according to “where’s my refund” mine will take 6 weeks. If you need the money ASAP, i’d recommend ponying up the money for an online software program that lets you efile.

  • Reply Debt-free Dan |

    I do my own with TurboTax and always have. As my financial situation got more complicated, I have also been able to keep up. I have a small business (sole proprietorship), rental property, moderately complicated investments, and charity to keep track of.

    I’m deliberate, so it’s never fast, but I’ve never been audited either.

  • Reply Stepanie |

    I did my own taxes with pencil and paper until the year after I bought a house with my partner and converted my previous house to a rental. The instructions for how to depreciate the rental property don’t make sense to me, and figuring out how to maximize the deductions is complicated when you have to do it over two returns, so we have them done now.

So, what do you think ?