You CAN Do Your Own Taxes
The "Trained Professional" Revealed
I am always so frustrated when I hear of average people (most of us) paying significant sums for someone else to prepare their taxes – via software. The “trained professional” sits in front of a computer monitor and asks the questions the software prompts them to ask, and the taxpayer replies. Then the “professional” types in your response. Seriously, it is so much cheaper just to read the question yourself and type in the response yourself. There is absolutely no reason to waste money to have someone read the question to you.
I have been using Turbo Tax for years. There may be others that are good, but I can endorse Turbo Tax as great. If you end up with some complex tax scenario (not most of us), you are going to need a CPA anyway, not a “trained tax professional” reading off questions that are prompted by tax software.
What Makes Tax Time So Difficult for Many
The most difficult thing about tax time is gathering all the documentation you need to fill in the blanks. But you need this information whether you (or someone else) prepare your tax return. So if you did not do it for this past tax year, vow to do it for this year. This step alone will solve the primary problem at tax time. To exemplify how easy it really is to do it yourself, I will share my tax preparation process.
Forms, Forms, and More Forms
Don't Sweat the Deadline
My Tax Preparation Process
As a former project manager, I can assure you that every good plan is supported by a good process. And sufficient planning enables you to devise a good process. It is sort of silly how easy it is, but my process works!
- Gather your documents & place them together in one place. If any are missing, track them down. Go through that stack of mail, check online accounts, or even request duplicates if necessary. Organize the documents so they are in a logical order.
- Sign into Turbo Tax.
- Answer the questions. Answer any follow-up questions.
- Let Turbo Tax check for errors. If any, fix them. Let Turbo Tax check again for errors.
- Submit for electronic filing. (I request direct deposit and usually receive my return in 7-14 days).
- Keep a copy of your return. (I keep an electronic copy and a paper one).
- Place all the supporting documents and your return in a big envelope. Label the envelope, add password and electronic filing numbers on (or inside) the envelope.
Why I Like and Use Turbo Tax
Beside the fact that I am not depending on someone else to fill in the blanks (that is probably not as smart as I am), Turbo Tax is:
- Easy to use
- Asks me the appropriate questions
- It can import W2 information from a good number of places (you can still type it in if you desire)
- Allows me to stop, save progress, then come back to it later
- Checks for errors
- No charge per form (It is not necessary to know what forms are needed or being used. You review the entire return upon completion).
- The software is free on the web and electronic filing is reasonably priced
- Provides an ongoing status of your return at the IRS