Income Tax Corner – Can You Really Do It Yourself?

One of the questions we hear most often from taxpayers that are hourly or salaried employees with “simple” tax returns is “Why can’t I just do this myself?”

The truth – and our usual answer is – “Of course you can…”

But there is always a catch. Tax software can be great but it also can have flaws that can cost you significantly if you aren’t 100% sure on how the U. S. Tax Code reads. The worst part of that is that many times, rather than saving you money, mistakes made with “free” tax software can often cost you thousands of dollars – each year! Deductions, contributions, itemization, mortgage interest, mileage, uniform allowances – they all add up and they are all your right to take when you meet the standards by which the law allows you to utilize them. The problem, though, and something that we consistently see here in the office is that so many regular folks simply don’t know how many deductions they can claim.

That’s lost money!

Even worse? It’s money that you’ve already earned and that you should be able to get back, but if you don’t know what you’re missing, you may never be able to put it back in your pocket.

When you add in the fact that the IRS is not supporting paper returns in many cases, this means that you have two potential problems from doing it yourself – you’re limited to how the software was programmed and due to those limitations, you may not be able to get all the information you need to make the best decisions.

Take mileage, for example. It may be smarter to look at the overall depreciation of a vehicle instead of the mileage allowance, but that decision is going to come down to usage, the number of business miles versus total miles, and, of course, how those business miles were accrued – commuting, traveling, or both?

The same holds true for everybody’s favorite – healthcare. Even if your employer covers you with their program, you may be eligible to write off mileage, certain costs, and even non-medical costs that result from going to see a doctor.

In other words, plenty of things you didn’t think of.

Now, I know that there are a lot of people that love to go to an accountant-in-a-box in the mall or the shopping center, drop of their information today and pick up their return tomorrow. Does that work? Sure, but despite paying a small fee for the return preparation and filing, some of the arguments against these tax services are the same as using software – a lack or personal service and a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Let me say it as plainly as I can: I want your business and I challenge you to come in, sit down with me and the team, and let’s talk about what tax strategies you’ve been using, how you’ve prepared your returns over the last few years, and where you may have missed an opportunity for additional refund monies.

I’ll almost guarantee that you’ve left some money on the table and that we can help put it back into your pocket, even if it has been several years. Leave “do-it-yourself” to the stuff that is actually fun for you and your family!