It is tax season. With about a month left to file your taxes, I am sure preparing your return is on many of your minds. You’re probably asking yourself not only, “How much am I going to get back?” but also, “How should I file my returns?” If you are doing your taxes for the first time, you may not know that there are several ways to prepare your tax return. You can do them yourself, downloading the necessary tax forms off the IRS Website. You can also buy a tax preparation software like TurboTax, or use a tax professional. There are many other options that are a combination or compromise of those three options, but as I shared my story in going to HR Block, I don’t recommend this at all.
The question remains then, given these options, what is the best way for you to file your return? I know that I will never attempt to fill out the forms myself. While I’m okay at math, I find these forms difficult to understand. Multiple C by line 26, subtract the square root of 16, and so goes the instructions. While it’s possible that some of you who are ambitious will go this route, my guess is that you are going to go to a tax professional or buy a tax software.
Everyone has their own opinion on which is better, but I’m going to make it very clear that I prefer tax software like Turbo Tax over the alternative.*
Reasons Tax Software is Better than a Tax Professional
1 – You Know What You Are Getting
Instead of playing a game of luck in hiring a tax professional (remember that I had a horrible experience at HR Block), tax software is consistent. While I’m sure there are good software programs and bad ones, if you go with a reputable software like TurboTax, you know what you are getting. There’s not a chance of that the program will forget to ask you something critical because it has all of the questions/information in a logical sequence.
2 – You Don’t Have to Feel Rushed or Cheated
Another reason why I love TurboTax is because I can save my progress at any point and return at a later time. That means that I don’t feel rushed to complete my taxes in a one-hour session with a person. With the ability to prepare my taxes for free (you only have to pay once you file), I don’t feel like I am being cheated. There are no mysterious charges and I’m definitely not being charged for something that I didn’t received. I pay for what I get with tax software.
3 – It’s More Affordable
Another great benefit of tax software is that it is really affordable. Software companies make their profits off of marketing their pre-packaged software to the masses. Since they already have a product to market, they aren’t concerned with earning so much per hour. This means there is no need for me to have that awkward conversation when I ask what I am being charged for and them to rationalize with a history of their experience and credentials. With tax software, it’s less expensive. It’s that simple.
4 – Technology is Good
I know many of my readers who use tax professionals are waiting for a pause to jump in and tell me the importance of working with a human being. This may be true in many rare cases, but for the majority of people (and especially young adults), tax software is going to be more than sufficient. Over the past two decades, the use of technology has increased drastically. It’s only natural for this trend to extend into tax preparation. As a general rule, those who refuse to recognize the importance of technology are those who are left behind in inefficiencies.
I always tell my friends that they should try TurboTax for free (you aren’t charged until the very end) and if you feel uncomfortable with any part of it, you can then hire a tax professional to provide clarification. Using technology, both in terms of tax preparation and in general, is advantageous to you.
Why to Use Tax Software: The Bottom Line
The bottom line when it comes down to comparing your two main options is that tax software is more than sufficient for most tax payers. It’s going to get the job done and it’s going to be less expensive 9 times out of 10. There’s also no guarantee that you are going to get better advice when you find a random tax professional. Why risk paying for something you don’t need when you can use tax software? It really is that simple!
*Please let it be known that I don’t devalue the importance of tax professionals, it’s just that with my sources of income and deductions, I have very little use to pay for professional one-on-one advice.