When You Should File Your Own Taxes

| December 18, 2012

tax difficultyAs the end of the year approaches, so does tax time.  Should you file your own taxes or seek the help of a tax professional? Online programs make it easier, but you still need the time and patience to do so. Read more about whether to consider doing it yourself and, if you choose to seek help, don’t forget DexKnows can help you find tax professionals in your area.

When and how to do taxes yourself

Doing your own taxes can take hours, especially if you decide to do it without using a tax program or filing online through the IRS website. Even if you choose one of those options, you still must gather the materials and put it into the program.

Consider doing your own taxes only if you have the time to commit. Tax laws change almost yearly. If you have a limited number of deductions you may not need as much time, but if you own your own business, have investments or depend on other sources of income, filing becomes more complex. That means you could be missing out on deductions and credits available due to 2012 new tax laws.

One suggested book is “Taxes Made Simple: Income Taxes Explained in 100 Pages or Less.” It is available in paperback for less than $10 on Amazon.com. The book explains things such as exemptions, credits and the different types of deductions.

If your income is $57,000 or less, you can link to free tax preparation sites through the IRS freefile website.

There are also programs with a low cost like Tax Slayer, which charges $9.95 for a federal tax return.

Many of the online software programs help you spot deductions that you could take. They can help you fill out the extra paperwork if you are reporting profits or losses from investments or if you work for yourself or have other income to report.

You can also get help through the IRS’ free help line at 1-800-829-4933. IRS online tools, including a tax calculator, are available on its tax tools page.

When to get help on taxes

If you don’t have time to commit, or you are concerned about the complexities of the tax law, consider seeking professional help.

Be hesitant about filing for deductions or credits if you don’t understand them. You don’t want to do something that attracts the IRS’ attention and an audit if your numbers don’t quite add up.

If you changed jobs, ran a business on the side, or had a baby or another major event in your life this year, your tax situation will probably be more complicated. You may want to get some advice to make sure not to miss out on any credits that go with these events.

Getting outside tax help may not guarantee that you will save more money, but there’s always the chance it could. It might save a few hundred dollars, or something more substantial, such as avoiding a red flag that triggers an IRS audit.

Make your choice wisely

Make your choice wisely as you decide whether to file your taxes yourself or seek help. If you decide to get extra help, let DexKnows help you find a tax preparer in your community.

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Category: Taxes

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Central Ohio journalist with 15 years experience at daily newspapers. Freelance writer and amateur photographer. Storytellers are my heroes, poets my idols and photographers my looking glass.