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Save Your Money, File Your Taxes Yourself

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    If there's one thing I despise it's the fact that tax preparation can be so complicated that many opt to pay a professional to just file their taxes for them. That is ridiculous. Not that people do that, but that we have such a complicated system an entire cottage industry was created, that extracts even more money from us -- in many cases we pay extra every year just to correctly settle up our tax debt with the govt.

    So it's essentially an extra tax. A fee/tax to pay our taxes. Anyways, point is if your tax preparation is complicated enough to have you going down to H&R Block or using an expensive CPA or tax attorney, I strongly recommend this approach:

    Let them do it for a year or two. And if your situation doesn't really change that much, just see how they did everything on your last return, and just do the filing yourself next time by copying the method. It will take some time and practice, but you can save hundreds in tax prep fees this way.

    What's the pulse of everyone on this? Do you pay to have someone prepare your taxes for you? If you do, how much? I was paying around $350 each year for an HR&Block in-person filing, as I am a 1099 filer. But I stopped that a few years ago and now I file through Turbo Tax online. Which runs about $125. It's still not free, but costs a lot less. Eventually will try and make the switch to free filing by doing all the paperwork myself. I am still paying for the convenience of software to remind me of all the latest deductions and options. But even that really, really annoys me. Angry

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    I definitely agree that tax preparation is way too expensive and often unnecessary for most people, but it is nice when you have somewhat complicated taxes. I'm a private contractor and file a 1099 with a lot of deductions while my wife files a 1040. We file jointly and have a variety of taxable investments. We happily pay our CPA because she make sure we cross every T and dot every I.

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    Personally, the only time I've found hiring a CPA useful is for when things have become complicated with owing the government. I'd say if you owe back taxes for some reason and it's a sizable amount, definitely seek help from a tax professional.