Most of you can use TT or some similar cut rate tax preparer. As the return becomes more complex, many posters noted they needed a CPA to get it right. You should ask for an estimate before getting surprised at their fees.
The real value is in talking to your CPA outside of busy season is to get Competent Professional Advice. Having done your tax return, they are in a good position to give you a financial check up. If you go to a specialist in insurance, investments, wills or any type of financial services, they are going to sell you their product as their view of your overall finances is limited. And the CPA has no product to sell as they only sell their time.
I have seen many cases where a good meaning financial services professional put someone in a reasonable product but it was wrong for the client or some other failure. Example: A broker puts a client in tax shelters because she says she hates paying taxes. Well, she was in a low tax bracket and had no passive income so the losses were doing her no good. Or an attorney sets up a beautiful will and trust but the client doesn't understand so they don't follow through on re titling of assets. Involving the CPA before the fact would fix many issues. Or the client has 3 children and wants to name all 3 as co-executors to their will. This is permissible and many attorneys will not argue at putting this in the will. I believe that a good CPA would point out the madness of having co-executors. If you are only using a CPA to do your taxes, you are probably overpaying.
I have also had clients who sucked up vast amounts of time during busy season for complex situations, then complain about the bill. Worst was a super wealthy man who had over 30 partnerships (some oil and gas, other working businesses, others passive investments), in maybe 5 to 10 states, $3 million of cap gains from the sale of maybe 10 partnership interests, over 100 donations of appreciated donated items, stock sales, multiple properties, rental properties. Pretty much every line on the return had a large number. And he complained about our bill. The amazing thing is that this man's main business was billing his own time in his field. And his bills were said to be outrageous.
Or there is the old doctor who was about to retire. His finances in retirement looked marvelous. Apparently, he had come to us as a young man. We had set him up with a brokerage firm that had a small business retirement plan product that allowed him to sock away tons of money, pre-tax. The broker put the funds in blue chip stocks with little turnover. We guided him to an insurance pro who sold him the right amount of term and liability. The attorney set up wills and trusts for him, the spouse and kids. We and the attorney worked with him to make sure things were titled properly. With our help he avoided the aggressive tax shelters that were the rage in the 70's but the fiasco of the 80's. This is what you should be paying your CPA to do.
Thank you for letting me rant.