Just because you can, doesn't mean you should ...
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
It’s a common dilemma: do a chore ourselves or hire an expert to do it for us? Often the choice is easy; we don’t have the budget to hire weekly maid service, or we don’t have the skills to replace a leaky roof. Sometimes the choice is a bit harder; we can paint the kitchen ourselves, but would we be better off hiring a professional? Do we have the skills, knowledge, and tools to do a quality job, or is it worthwhile to hire an expert and be assured of great results with a minimum of work and stress for ourselves?
It’s the same with preparing your tax return. Sure, there are several do-it-yourself options. However, is that the best choice? Do you have the knowledge to prepare an accurate return that takes advantage of all deductions and credits you are entitled to take? Do you have the interest to keep up with the ever-changing tax code? Do you have the patience to explore all options for correctly completing your return? Are you confident you can answer any follow-up questions the IRS may ask?
We sometimes hear “I do my own taxes on TurtleTacks. It's cheap, and it lets me deduct lots of things.” DIY software requires the user to have knowledge of the tax code to properly utilize it. Dog walkers can’t deduct the cost of their tennis shoes, and job seekers can’t deduct the price of their ties, even if commercials say they can. The IRS says taxpayers are responsible for the accuracy of their return regardless of how it was prepared. Just because software “allows” you to do something does not mean tax law supports that position. Cars “allow” drivers to speed, but that argument will not get anyone out of a speeding ticket. Taxpayers who don’t understand the complexities of the tax code may find themselves receiving notices from the IRS telling them to correct their mistakes. Since these notices can come long after the return was filed, errors may have been repeated on subsequent returns and large penalties and fees may have accrued.
Users of DIY software may not be aware of last week’s Congressional action that made retroactive changes to the tax law. However, our clients who were affected by these changes were immediately assured that we are taking care of them. We get to know you and your unique tax situation, so you can be confident we have prepared an accurate return that gives you the best result possible. We have the experience to ask about deductions that are specific to your occupation, to maximize education credits for family members in college, or to know if a married couple would benefit from filing as Married Filing Separately. And if the IRS ever sends you a notice, we’ll be here to answer any questions and to stand behind our work.
In our next blog installment, we will look at IRS guidelines for choosing a tax preparer and how we meet their criteria. We’re ready to take the chore of tax preparation off your hands. Give us a call and let experienced professionals handle the job for you!