Should I Really Do My Taxes Myself?

Nowadays, more and more people are doing their own taxes with software programs like Turbo Tax, or use online services like H&R Block offers. This isn’t a bad thing if your taxes aren’t going to be complicated. Ask yourself the questions listed here if you are considering doing your taxes yourself this coming year:

1.    Do I live in the same state that I work in? For example, things get really complicated when you live in PA and work in MD or NY. You have to file their state taxes, your state taxes, all kinds of things on federal taxes. So, if you live in one state and work in another, you may want to consider going to a professional to work out the details listed here.

2.    Who do I work for? If you own a small business or are self-employed, there are some tax laws you really need to pay attention to that you may miss without the help of an experienced tax professional. This will help you avoid a potential audit.

3.    Do I have education expenses? Do you pay a child’s tuition or your own? Or are you in the process of paying off student loans? Did you know that you can write some of those expenses off on your taxes?

4.    Have I recently lost a family member? Inheritance, gifts from the estate, life insurance, and all of those things can confuse us when it comes to be time to do our income taxes. See a professional to see what you have to claim and what you don’t.

5.    Have I made any charitable donations? Do you put money in the offering at church? Have you donated clothes to the local Salvation Army or other local organization? Have you donated food to the local food pantry?

6.    Do I receive any federal assistance? Health insurance, food stamps, social security disability, whatever it may be; some of these may have to be filed on your claim.

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7.    Am I retired? Retired persons don’t necessarily have an income. A tax professional can help you figure out how to file best to your benefit.

8.    Did I take advantage of any of the tax breaks offered in the past two years? Make sure you have your paperwork in order and that you get the maximum benefit by going to your tax professional instead of guessing where these go.

9.    Do I really have the time and effort it takes to do it myself? A lot of this information you really can figure out yourself. But the problem is, it takes a really long time and a lot of patience. If you don’t have a lot of one or the other (or both!), consider shelling out the extra money to get your taxes done by a professional.

Did you answer yes to one or more of these questions? Then, you should consider getting your taxes done professionally this coming year. If not, then sure, it’s not a big deal to do them yourself. It’s estimated that over 60% of Americans get their taxes done by a professional. So, don’t feel silly for taking the time to do so.