Is Attempting Your Own Taxes Worth It?
Considering that we’re now more than halfway through February (and it looks as though the IRS will be staying open from here on out), it’s time to start thinking about taxes. Honestly, I’m actually kind of excited to do my taxes this year as I have a feeling I’ll be getting a portion of my estimated taxes back. But, more importantly, my experience doing my own taxes for the first time last year gave me more confidence heading into this season. Obviously, I’m essentially alone in this opinion, as I was well reminded this week.
Yesterday, my friend and I were talking about the impending tax deadline and how she was pretty much dreading it. More specifically, she was questioning whether or not she should be hiring someone to tackle her returns this year. See, previously, both her and her husband had regular ol’ W-2s that made filing a cinch. However, she was self-employed for part of last year, meaning things will be a bit iffier this time around.
While talking to her about this conundrum, my first instinct was to recommend Credit Karma Tax, which is what I used to file last year. Since this service is completely free, my logic was that she could at least give it a shot and see how far she got. Then, if she got to the end and was satisfied, she could just go ahead and file.
As I was saying this, I was then reminded that most online tax filing services only charge you once you actually file. In other words, you can essentially take this same strategy of trying your hand at filing your own return without wasting money should you run into trouble. Of course, if you do find yourself struggling, then you can throw in the towel and head to your nearest tax professional.
Speaking of tax pros, I do feel I need to mention that, if you’re really uncomfortable doing your own taxes and worry that you’re going to make a mistake, it’s probably better to let someone else take over. At the same time, trying out these online services could help teach you a thing or two now, allowing you to build upon that knowledge for next year… or whenever. Even if this isn’t the year you master your own taxes, maybe you can take some baby steps towards that future goal.
Although the tax deadline is fast approaching, there is still a healthy amount of time until the big day. Instead of procrastinating, why not make use of the time you have and take a swing at handling your returns by yourself (well, with the help of an online service, that is.) Best case scenario: you file without issue and save a nice chunk of cash in the process. Worst case: you appreciate your paid tax professional that much more. Happy tax season!