Should You Do Your Own or Hire a Professional?

If you're like most people, taxes are the last thing you want to do. You have a busy schedule and don't want to spend the little free time you have looking at W2's or mortgage interest forms, or tackling the daunting task of trying to figure out how to maximize your deductions.

The good news, if you are one of these people, is that there is help! If you have a fairly straightforward financial situation, then you may benefit from doing your own taxes. When you do your own taxes, you don't have to pay an expensive tax preparation service or CPA. All that you pay for is the cost of the tax preparation software.

If you decide to do your own taxes, there are a number of great tax preparation services, including TurboTax and H&R Block at Home Software. I prefer H&R Block At Home due to the fact that you can not only use their software to prepare your taxes, but their support is also very good since they have live professionals who can answer questions, combined with audit support after you file your return.

However, if you are faced with a more complex situation, it may benefit you to have a professional prepare your taxes. Even though it may cost a bit more up front, there are some situations in which you may want to consider having a professional do your taxes for you. For example, maybe you own multiple businesses and have a complicated family situation.

Having said that, much of today's tax preparation software is now very sophisticated and can handle more and more complex situations, especially services like the aforementioned H&R Block at Home Software that offer live tax help along with the preparation software.

However you decide to do your taxes, the main point is getting them done right and maximizing your deductions can go a long way to helping lead you down the right financial path.

Personal Finance Spreadsheet

Download the Smart Personal Finance Spreadsheet. It can help you organize your financial life by giving you a snapshot of the current state of your finances, thus helping you make better decisions about how you spend, save and earn money.