Tax Preparation: Me, Who, and How Much?

filing taxes, tax returns, doing taxesBy Andrew Nyquist
For years, I did my own taxes. Single, married, and married with children. I’m no expert, but I always liked learning and doing things for myself. There was a certain amount of satisfaction and self worth that came with saving on tax preparation and (hopefully) getting a few bucks back in returns — a double pat on the back, if you will. But with each new year came more paperwork… and more personal time and effort. Tired of the act, but unable to relinquish full control, I initially reached out for low-cost assistance with TurboTax, before finally, and begrudgingly, switching things up last year and hiring a professional tax firm.

I’ve always been a doer, so this was a tough decision for me. But, as with many decisions in life, it was personal; unfortunately, there’s not a pretty book of easy answers one can buy to assist with these types of decisions. For me, it was as much about my dull pain tolerance as it was about savings. As we continued to have kids, invest on their behalf, make more investments and take on business endeavors, it just got to be too much.

Funny to think about now, but I remember feeling pretty leery about the whole thing… thinking that “if I wasn’t doing them myself, would they be done right?” Now it’s always good to double check the inputs, but pretty ridiculous considering these were high end tax professionals handling the dirty work for me. Yeah, giving up control can be tough. I had to pry one finger off at a time off…

But in reality, it was amazing how great it felt to be released from this burden. I was free from 15-20 hours of additional tax work – time I could spend on my family, investing, writing, etc…

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No doubt, this was a good decision for me. But again, this was personal, and I understand that all situations and circumstances are different. For instance, many may have an easier or administratively lighter tax filing situation (single or married without kids, or little investments/schedules to deal with). And further, some folks may just have a greater tolerance for pain than I. Either way, it’s good to do a self-assessment with these types of things. Ask yourself how much it matters to you to retain control, and compare the time spent to how much you’re actually saving.

For those of you still preparing your own taxes, you can find assistance for a relatively small fee online with the likes of TurboTax, efile, and H&R Block (and many more). Although efile and H&R Block appear to be the cheapest, I personally like TurboTax. And remember, often times, you get what you pay for. Additionally, TurboTax offers some nice sync ups and business return features. Online fees range from free for personal federal prep to well over $100 dollars for business filing. Either way, most online tax prep providers have programs to walk you through the process. You just have to figure out what to include and how/when/where to incorporate it.

Good luck to all. Here’s to hoping for a prosperous and pain free tax season.


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Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of his employer or any other person or entity.