Taxes: DIY or Hire Help
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Taxes: DIY or Hire Help

by Alex Schitter | Mar 22, 2018
Taxes: DIY or Hire Help - InTouch Credit Union Woman and Man at Table Reviewing Form and Working on Laptop

Preparing Your Taxes: Get Help, or go DIY?

 

With the IRS filing deadline coming up soon – April 17 -- it’s time to start thinking about taxes. One of the first decisions you need to make: Should you fill out the return yourself, or pay someone to help?

 

According to IRS estimates, you’ll pay an average of $270 to have someone complete a Form 1040 with itemized deductions. You’ll save money if you do it yourself, even if you purchase tax software, which generally runs under $100. (information regarding filing fee discounts offered by InTouch Credit Union and TurboTax®.) But if your tax returns are complicated, you might save more money than you spend by hiring a professional. Consider these factors as you decide whether or not to “go DIY.” 

 

How complex is your return? If you’re a single taxpayer, don’t own a home, and don’t have any investments other than a 401K, you’ll likely breeze through your return. Things get a little more complicated if you get married, have a child, or itemize, but tax software can guide you step-by-step. However, if you own your own business, you may need professional advice to make sure you’re taking advantage of deductible expenses and filling out all the required paperwork, both for yourself and for your business. In Texas, for example, some businesses must file franchise tax returns and pay unemployment taxes through the Texas Workforce Commission. 

 

Do you need tax planning help? In addition to preparing your taxes, a tax professional can spot opportunities for saving money on next year’s tax bill and help you plan. That can save you significant money and potential headaches if you own a business, inherit money, or if you’re buying or selling a home. 

 

Are you ready to deal with the IRS? If you fill out a tax return yourself, the IRS will contact you with any questions. You can direct the IRS to a tax preparer instead if you use one. 

 

How much do you hate doing taxes? Some people breeze through this chore and enjoy saving the money. For others, it’s anxiety-producing and confusing. If tax returns make you crazy, and you can afford it, don’t hesitate to get help.   

 

How soon do you need it done? If you wait until the very last minute, a tax preparer may not be an option; most need several days to complete your return. Procrastinators who use tax software can finish at the last minute. As long as you hit “Send” by midnight on April 17, you’ll be okay.