Should I do my Own Taxes or Hire a Tax Preparer?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
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  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2016
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Come April 15, we all have to deal with taxes. Whether you file them yourself or hire a professional to do them depends on several factors, starting with how willing you are to spend the required time working on them. A professional will charge you $100 US Dollars or more, but it may be worth it if you dread the process.

If this is your first time filing taxes, and you think they may be relatively simple, try doing them yourself first. If you don't itemize and have few deductions, filing should be relatively easy. Try using a software program or book, or file online at sites such as TurboTax or TaxCut.

On the other hand, if your finances are complicated, have bought or sold investments during the past year, or if you are filing business taxes rather than personal, you may be better off paying a professional, at least for the first year or two. During the process, ask a lot of questions and make sure you understand what is going on. If next year you decide to file by yourself, the process won't seem so intimidating.

Being afraid of auditing is not necessarily a good reason to hire a professional to do your taxes. Less than one percent of tax payers get audited, and this is directly related to their level of income rather than the way the documents are filed. If you are audited, you can always hire somebody to represent you later.


If you have been filing taxes on your own for a long time with no problems, you should continue doing so. However, if you have had problems in the past, such as overpaying, filing mistakes, or delays, hiring a professional can help you get on track. While all preparers should be able to get you a similar refund, it is possible that you are missing something that a more experienced eye can catch. If you are in no rush and want to take the time to learn about current tax laws, filing for yourself should be no problem.


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Post 7

I always file my own taxes. I'm biased but I would recommend using DIY Tax. To file both your federal and state returns its totally free. The software is very easy to use and helpful even if you have never filed your own returns before.

Post 6

One year I went through the TaxAct software to do my income tax return. This was really a lot more simple than I thought it would be. Since this was the first time I had done it myself, I wanted to make sure I was doing it the right way.

After I went through this program, I saved everything but didn't file. Then I went and had them done by a professional to see if I had missed anything. The end result was only different by a few dollars.

Since then I have been doing my taxes myself and feel very confident about it. If your return is not very complicated, it is just a matter of correctly

entering the information in the forms. I haven't had any specific tax training, but this is pretty much what a lot of the professionals do.

If someone has a tax situation that is very complicated, I can understand why they would want someone else to do them, but there are a lot of people who can easily get by doing their own online tax filing.

Post 5

I have had my taxes done both ways. For a long time I used an online software program and felt like they were adequate. When my husband and I started our own business, I didn't feel confident enough in doing our taxes myself.

I also am concerned about all the new tax laws they come up with every year. I know the software tax programs you do yourself are supposed to keep up with all these changes, but now I feel more comfortable having someone else do them for me.

Post 4

I have always paid someone else to do my income tax preparation. I feel too intimidated by all the forms to attempt to do this myself. As long as I get a good refund and don't have to mess with it myself I am happy. I would be too afraid I would miss something major if I tried doing them myself. For the peace of mind, it is worth paying someone else to do them for me.

Post 3

I have been doing my own taxes for many years. I started doing this when my life was pretty simple. I was single, had one job and didn't do any itemizing. Now my life is much more complicated than that, but I have used TurboTax for many years and have never had any problems.

I have found them to be easy to follow and understand and they have people you can chat with or talk to if you get stuck with something. I know I am saving myself a lot of money by doing it this way.

Fortunately I have never been audited and I will continue to keep doing my taxes myself. For the last several years there hasn't been much change from year to year, and it doesn't even take that long to go through all the forms and submit everything online.

Post 2

@jessic - I’ve heard, too, that the IRS will do them for people for free. Of course, that only works if you’re not trying to skimp on anything. Using tax software like TurboTax has been pretty good for me, but I’ve got to say it can get a little hairy when jobs have been changed or there is unemployment compensation to consider. It’s really confusing sometimes. But, I’ve never had a problem with my taxes either. I think taxes are just scary all the way around because they are so gosh-darn complicated.

Post 1

The first time I filed taxes I was in college and was terrified of getting in trouble for some reason that I could not fathom. I trucked myself down to my parent’s tax preparers and was quickly disgusted. I watched this lady fill in like three lines and then ask me for $65.00. This was a few years ago, so I’m sure it costs more now!

Doing your own taxes isn’t that bad as long as there aren’t tons of different W-2’s and 1099’s and other tax forms. It’s a lot cheaper, too! Plus, for some people it is a great deal to go online because they can actually qualify to have them done for free.

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