Cheap Can Be Expensive
There are many (so called) “cheap” options available for tax preparation. These options might be in the form of downloadable or “boxed” software, volunteer tax assistance (VITA), or even community group assistance.
All of these options are available at little or no cost. However, there may be severe difficulties with each option.
- With consumer software, many details and vital determinations are often left out of the programming, costing clients hundreds (if not, thousands) of dollars. Using this product is the equivalent of buying clothing by mail order, it might look like it belongs on you, but it often does not fit well.
- With volunteer assistance, the well-meaning souls sitting across the table often have little to no training in tax matters, often giving rise to the probability of mistakes, penalty assessments and error notices arriving from the taxing authorities.
- With community assistance, the same difficulties apply as with volunteers, except that these good hearted souls often have no training at all.
An income tax return is a legal obligation between a taxpayer and the government with a liability period of at least three years. The question one needs to ask here is, what is the value of saving a few bucks if it greatly increases the possibility of problems, costs, and troubles?
Even though it may cost a little bit more, I wholeheartedly believe that a person is much better served by establishing a relationship with a federally-or state licensed tax professional in good standing who practices tax for a living, and is legally bound to represent you and be accountable to you for the entire legal liability period. Such a person can identify issues that you cannot see and provide suggestions for items that you may not think about.
The few more dollars you may spend will more than pay for itself in added savings, peace of mind, and protection.