In the past 30 or 40 years, a significant part of the global population has joined the do-it-yourself world, sometimes driven by curiosity and the desire to learn something new. At other times, these enterprising individuals choose to take on a task outside their normal expertise simply because it costs so much less to do it that way.

Most people would avoid such crucial tasks as changing the brakes on their car or rewiring their home, but they are more than willing to try preparing their own tax returns. When asked why, they generally give two reasons: the cost and the fact that, if they follow the instructions, they can do just as well on their own as they would with a tax preparer.

Sometimes it Works

In a percentage of cases, preparing your taxes on your own may indeed save you money. You will not have to pay the professional fees, so you are money ahead. However, in many situations, paying for help from an experienced tax preparer in Brooklyn, for example, may actually save you money.

Look at a simple example. (This is not meant to reflect actual charges from someone who prepares tax returns for a living.)

An Example

Suppose you owe $500 in taxes and have to pay someone $200 to complete your tax return. If they do it correctly, which they almost always do, they may find deductions and credits that you did not know about. If they reduce the amount of tax you have to pay by $300, you obviously get great benefit, paying out a total of $400. If you decide not to go to a tax preparer, you would miss those deductions and credits and pay out $500.

If that seems too simple an idea, consider that the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obamacare) created at least five new tax forms and an entire process that is confusing to most non-professionals. If you are not familiar with these changes, you could cost yourself more than a few dollars.

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