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January 28, 2012


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Expensive overkill unless you have complex taxes like a business, rental property, consultant employed or possibly Minium Required Distribution calculations for IRA.

It's definitely overkill, but a good idea. In terms of expense and time spent doing this experiment, even if only once, I think it might be more wise and practical to make an effort to research which method would be more beneficial. Even if you had to pay an accountant a small consulting fee to get an opinion on what method would be best, I think it'd be worth the time saved.

If you really want to know for yourself which is best then you must try all three. Sometimes it is best you discover things for yourself, especially to protect your assets, rather than always taking someone else's opinion.

Historically I've always used Turbo Tax until last year when I needed a CPA due to complexities. I did do both as the Turbo Tax didn't take too long and it helped with planning (ie, how much I'm going to have to pay). This year I plan on same approach - use Turbo Tax for planning and then the CPA.

BTW, I'm a big supporter of the "Fair Tax" (national sales tax) in leiu of the current method - everyone pays their fair share (even drug dealers and illegals), politicians aren't bought off with special tax preferences, and no complex tax planning every year. It's a pipe dream as our government tax system is corrupt to the bone and will never change.

First we used a CPA firm to do the tax preparation for us. Although it was a little expensive for us, like $75 for a really simple filing, my husband still wanted to use them. They never talked to us for any other deductions or credits that we might entitle, and just did what we gave them. Three years after, when we got the paperwork back from the CPA office, I saw a label "Electronic Filed" on top of it. Then, I decided to do it myself using TurboTax. I'm glad that we did because we had a lot more refund and it was so easy to do. Even better, State Farm Bank offered TurboTax for free for its customers.

I love this idea! Last year, I compared to TurboTax and got the same result, so I decided that paying to use TurboTax wasn't worth it. I had some complications that neither of those two could deal with, so I ended up going with a CPA in the end.

This year, I will probably use my same CPA again, but I'll re-evaluate for my 2012 taxes. I do try to work through my taxes myself using FreeFileFillableForms so that I have some idea of if I'm going to owe money or how much of a refund I'll get back. TurboTax would be super cheap, however, since I can get it with a 35% reduction with my Charles Schwab account. With my investments starting to get more complicated, it might make more sense to use TurboTax instead of FreeFileFillableForms. I do love how TurboTax will show you your expected refund amount even before you pay!

I think this is going overboard for someone with an overall simple return like me. However, if it were to get much more complex, then comes the time to take this kind of approach and find what's fastest, easiest, and worth the cost.

I used a CPA for the first time last year. I had some complications of a farm purchase and other issues.

First I did it via turbotax online. Which is free until you file. Then we took it to the CPA. She sat with my wife and I for about 2 hours filling out forms, asking questions and such.

All said and done she got us several hundred dollars more back than TT did. Which more than made up for her $100 fee.

This comes down to the same simple question.... how much is your time worth? If you've got lots of it- then go for it. If you don't, then why bother? I have a family and my spare time on weekends and evenings is much better spent with them than our complex tax code. No way I would bother with this on my own. Outsource to a CPA who does my taxes year after year, and be done with it. They can also give me professional advice that I may not know, or would otherwise have to spend even more of my time learning about.

I figure I can kill two birds with one stone. I'll do my taxes using H&R Block at home or whatever they call it (sometimes if you bounce around, you'll get CDs in the mail with "we want you back, do this year's return free!").

The other bird would be that I'm a CPA. While I work in the corporate world right now (I'm strongly thinking about getting back into public), there's enough information about tax changes that I'm pretty OK with my own particular situation.

I think it makes sense. Using the three point process could involve both partners-something I feel is vital. In essence, my husband and I have done just that. For most of our married life, my husband has done our taxes. He uses Turbo tax. He is a former banker; who obtained a PhD in finance and is now the Chairman of Finance Dept at a state university. He also completed the CFP course over a three year period; although he is never went thru the licensing process. I ask questions and he is very good about explaining the process. But, I always felt at a disadvantage. So, I signed up and took the course that Liberty Tax Service offers every fall. The only cost was the books; and it was a very complete course. Twice a week for three hours with homework for about 8 weeks. So, if the thought of using a fee based financial planner or a CPA blows the budget, sign up for a course and learn it. (I went into the class for knowledge; not for a job; but two of the remaining three people in my class are now employed by Liberty.) You might find a new career.

I do my own taxes 3x's every year but not with tax preparers but with 3 different software packages (i.e. turbo tax, taxact and H&R Block). TaxAct wins every year, so every year, I file using TaxAct. My taxes are very uncomplicated, but I like numbers and tax stuff as well. I think it's worth it. Once, many years ago, I went to a CPA and once or twice I went to a tax preparer. It worked out better for me doing it myself and a lot cheaper. The tax softwares walk you through every scenario possible, so for me, it's a no-brainer.

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