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Old 12-31-2014, 07:52 AM   #41
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Done my own taxes since my first filing in 1974. If you have a little patience and keep good records it is really not that difficult. The advent of TT was certainly a god send as it came right about the time my taxes started to get a bit more complicated with rentals, LLC, K-1's, stock options, etc.

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Old 12-31-2014, 08:12 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by mistershankly View Post
I have tremendous gratitude for all of the great advice and insight posted here, and I figured there may be no better place to post my question... who does your taxes?

Personally, I have hired an accountant for the past 20 years but only because my parents hired an accountant ever since I could remember. I know, it's not the most reasonable thing to do since all of our other financial endeavors are exclusively and confidently handled by me and DW. Our financial picture is not too complicated (I have w-2 income, no mortage, one rental income property, one Vanguard brokerage account, and DW does infrequent freelance 1099-based work) but I wonder if hiring a CPA to do our taxes is really necessary. My main concern has been to not miss any entries in our filings to potentially benefit us... or even worse, to make entries and deductions that may harm us in the long run (even though I am fairly conservative as I prefer a good night's sleep with low audit potential over taking aggressive chances with our tax filings). The secondary benefit was that my CPA was a great source of financial counseling that made the annual fees and meeting well worth it. However, he recently retired and my latest experience with a CPA was lackluster at best.

So.... is there any rationale to seek the services of a CPA or is the Quicken and TurboTax route sufficient for most filings of relatively simple scenarios? Are there any good resources that you use for doing your own taxes?

I may be missing some information here that would help in answering my question so please feel free to ask, and I'll provide it. Thanks in advance!!
I use Turbo Tax.

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Old 12-31-2014, 08:19 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by scrabbler1 View Post
No TurboTax or H&R Block or a CPA for me, ever. I have only begun dabbling with the fillable pdf forms in the last year or so; with my crappy handwriting it will save me some trouble.
I tried to do that with Federal last year and gave up. Too darn many "mini-worksheets" where the number you put on the form is a function of your Adjusted Gross, your house number and the spot price of the Argentine peso. As I noted earlier, I find that aggravating. You've got more smarts/patience than I do.
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Old 12-31-2014, 08:24 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by HFWR View Post
I use the accounting firm Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe...
I thought they were a law firm

I started using a CPA when our finances got more complicated. I would spend so much time reviewing and re-reviewing when using TT that it just got to the point where it was worth the $125 the account charged. That work pretty good for about 8 or 9 years. Then the lady who actually did our taxes left and the lady who took her place wasn't near as good or as friendly plus the price started going up. Then she made a horrible mistake (~$10,000) and when she corrected it, her submitted reason for refiling sounded like it was my fault. The next year I used a CPA in Colorado who was highly recommended by a broker friend. I am sure this CPA would charge me $200 for buying him a cup of coffee. I plan to have him do my taxes this year again as I move to a new state. Next year I will do my own.
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Old 12-31-2014, 09:21 AM   #45
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OK, for another point of view. I am a CPA and I do taxes.

Our minimum charge to do a return is $300. We have a minimum charge to discourage the really simple returns.

There are two reasons a person uses a CPA to do their taxes. 1) Complexity or 2) Convenience.

If it is a simple return, I tell them that if they want to do their own return and have one of our CPAs review it, they could cut their cost in half. Or, they could come in once every couple of years and I would prepare their return and review the previous ones for obvious errors.

A complex return is a different story. I have seen people make major mistakes in preparing their own complex returns.

Tax Professionals software is very expensive. We spend over $25,000 per year on the software but we prepare Business and Individual returns in all 50 States.

Simple return preparation is not something most CPAs want to build their business on. They would rather spend one hour discussing tax planning with a client rather than one hour preparing their simple return.

I would recommend that if you feel that you aren't comfortable doing your return, see a CPA. If you just have questions, schedule an appointment and discuss those questions, or as I like to suggest to clients, come in every couple of years (between April 16th and December 1st) and let me look at what you have done. It might be money better spent.
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Old 12-31-2014, 09:49 AM   #46
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I've used TaxCut (now HR Block at Home) since the late 80's. My returns have been pretty simple (W2, investments, rental property).

The way I figure it, by the time I organize all of the data that needs to go into the program, it only takes me an hour to type the stuff in...not worth hiring someone to do data entry.

But the only reason it's a "data entry" task is because the interviews that are built into these tax software programs make it somewhat idiot proof. It is possible or even likely that interview questions can be misinterpreted and incorrect data entered, though, so the idea to pay half price for a review might be a good bet every now and then. I've only done that once, though, when I had rental property.
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:00 AM   #47
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I've always done my own taxes. I find it somewhat interesting and potentially challenging. During retirement, I've made it a hobby by volunteering for the VITA program (prepare free tax returns for low income people).
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:01 AM   #48
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I have a very simple and consistent tax situation.

I used to do mine using TurboTax. I keep a folder labeled for the current tax year in my file cabinet. All year, I drop all tax related documents in there. Sometimes I even sort them within the folder, sometimes not.

Now that Mr B (degreed and experienced accountant) has started his own home based tax prep service, he does mine using TurboTax Pro. I tally all of the receipts in the folder, and hand him the handwritten summary sheet.

No charge.
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Old 12-31-2014, 10:31 AM   #49
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In the past, I've used both a professional preparer and Turbotax for both state and Federal returns. I'm now using turbotax only.

I've found that they take about the same amount of work and time. Both require that I gather all of my information together. The professional required that I fill all of the information in to his form. This was very similar and slightly more difficult than putting it into turbotax.

Re mistakes, my return is moderately complicated with investment income and a few dollars from working as a 1099 employee. However, it hasn't changed much in 3 years. I've caught data entry problems by comparing to the previous years (which is what my CPA did). I haven't been audited (yet) so I don't think I'm making any huge errors.
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:33 AM   #50
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I've always done my own taxes, primarily because I always want to know exactly what's going on. It's also a good mental challenge, kind of like puzzle solving. I've used TurboTax for about 15 years or so, and before that it was paper forms, Pub 17, and sometimes the Lasser books.
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:36 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Cat-tirement View Post
I've always done my own taxes, primarily because I always want to know exactly what's going on. It's also a good mental challenge, kind of like puzzle solving. I've used TurboTax for about 15 years or so, and before that it was paper forms, Pub 17, and sometimes the Lasser books.

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Old 12-31-2014, 11:36 AM   #52
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It looks like respondents do their own tax preparation rather than tax professionals here by nearly 20:1. Very impressive! I think that Vanguard Flagship provides TurboTax Deluxe to its clients. I may try to shadow my CPA's tax prep for this year by using this software . . . and maybe become even more in awe of his skills!
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:02 PM   #53
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I always prepared my own returns and used Turbo Tax since the mid 90s. But several years ago, I did an expat assignment. Since then, Megacorp pays a Big-4 firm to prepare all my returns, including now in retirement. Under my tax equalization agreement, this will continue for several more years until the large foreign tax credit carryforward (which benefits Megacorp, not me) is consumed.

I maintain a spreadsheet to estimate and validate the so-called hypothetical return, which is the basis of what I actually pay Megacorp, and is relatively straightforward. The actual return is the most complicated thing I've ever seen. The whole process is a bit weird. The Big-4 firm is looking out for Megacorp's interest, not mine. And their system is beyond terrible. I get their latest 23-year-old college recruit every year (with names like Josh and Ashley), and I find multiple mistakes every year. I'm looking forward to doing my own return again someday.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:10 PM   #54
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I have done my taxes for the past 30 years with the exception of one year where a girl I was dating, who worked at a CPA firm, did them for me. I started out doing the hand written version then switched to Turbo Tax many years ago.

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Old 12-31-2014, 12:17 PM   #55
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Jimbo125, thank you. I know I'm wasting my CPAs time and my money. When we started using her it made sense, complex returns. Think we'll chat about the tax planning, more value for me.

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Old 12-31-2014, 02:59 PM   #56
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I have always done our taxes, starting with paper forms way back when and now doing them with an online tax site. Our are very simple, W-2, 1099-R, 1099-INT. This year many of us will get friendly with the new forms for ACA subsidy reconciliation. Nothing I can't handle. When I've had questions I know where to look and learn.

I worked for H&R Block for a few years where I learned how much I did not know but where to go to find answers.

I also do our younger son's taxes. He is self employed as a freelance audio engineer and all his income is 1099s. He's gotten quite good at keeping track of his business expenses and mileage and he is diligent about his estimated payments. He asked me to help him with Obamacare enrollment last month and the sticking point for him is that his income is so uneven that it's hard to estimate annual income.

If any of you need a simple, but FREE tax filing site we have been using FreeTaxUSA® FREE Tax Filing, Online Return Preparation, E-file Income Taxes for many years. Federal filing is free but they charge for the state filing so I just go to our state site to file for free.

Since I have always enjoyed this type of thing I do a spreadsheet in the fall to get a guesstimate of where we are tax wise for the year. We have not itemized in many years (no mortgage interest, low real estate taxes) so it's been fairly simple.

For the past few years I have been helping my elderly Dad with his finances. He has used the same accountant for a long time so I prepare all the info for him to send to his accountant. It seems silly to pay for this, I'm doing all the prep work, but I would not expect my Dad to change after all these years.
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Old 12-31-2014, 03:06 PM   #57
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I have always done my own, but I got a bit of a head start early on when I (briefly) became an IRS Revenue Officer (lasted less than a year). We got about a week's worth of training- this was pre-PC and TurboTax in 1977.

Since then I have always either done it manually or used Tax Act.

As for the OP's question, I see no reason not to DIY , particularly where nothing basically has changed. Just make sure your result comes close to matching what the pro did last year. Start early and if you get wobbly you can always punt to a pro.
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Old 12-31-2014, 03:07 PM   #58
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We've been using TurboTax or one of the others since about the early to mid '90's. But ours our pretty simple, no business income/expenses, rentals, or any of that complicated stuff.

Before that we did it ourselves by hand.
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Old 12-31-2014, 03:19 PM   #59
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Another DIY'er, always have. Used to be paper and bought the JK Lasser books, then been using TT for many years. Even with rental properties, moving state residences, and small home based business. Just need to put the info where it belongs on the returns.

The main thing I see is you need to understand the tax rules and how it works, so you know what expenses and receipts to keep. This is no different than a paid preparer that asks for the info, you have to know what is needed to help the preparer. So it becomes a simple enter yourself task and the software puts it in the right place and correct calculations.

I also do a couple easy trust returns, and do those by hand. Just less trouble than trying to do them with the software.
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Who does your taxes?
Old 12-31-2014, 03:46 PM   #60
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Who does your taxes?

I used to do my own but when my business got more complicated, I had a rental property, then 2 homes with mortgages, investments and AMT I switched to an accountant about 19 years ago. I always spend a lot of time gathering everything (it used to be 2 full weekends when I was in private practice) & organizing it for my CPA.

He is going to retire soon and so am I. Once both are done - the retirements of him and me - I will have more time to understand the taxes on capital gains and dividends of our after-tax mutual funds and ETFs and the new traditional post-tax IRA I set up, DH's RMD and such, and hope I can do it myself again. I usually run some tax software first anyway so I see if I have to send more $ with my last 2 quarterly payments and have a rough estimate of what we might still owe in April. I was trying to defer some income to not be bumped into a higher tax bracket for 2014 but I just had too much darn w*rk.

I am not naturally good with numbers AT ALL so this is a real unenjoyable challenge for me. But it seems I am paying my CPA a lot more than most of you. Another expense I will be happy to cut.

My BIL is a tax preparer but he stopped giving out free advice to family members a long time ago. I used to call him with questions when I was stumped, long before the advent of DIY tax software. Recently I emailed him about HSA contributions after 20+ years of not asking him any questions. He answered me promptly and didn't charge me

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