tax preparation

For the past two years I’ve done something. I’ve gone through and filled out the both the 1040EZ and the full 1040 form with itemized deductions, following instructions as meticulously as I know how (which is very meticulous, trust me). Then, I pick the one that yields the greatest refund, and I file that. It was the EZ form both times.

But earlier today I got my taxes prepared by my local big name tax preparation office off a recent success story about a friends return. I decided to give it a try, why not? I watched them fill out all the same forms from the same data I’d been filing with the last two years, but my return was at least $1,000 more that it has been in previous years. All the numbers add up, there were no secret parts that were not explained to me, and as far as I can tell the whole return was filed without the use of magic.

It did cost $100, but who cares if I get $1,000 more back? Next year, I plan to try to file myself again, and see if the information I’ve learned from going through this process helps me understand things well enough to get the same results next year. If it doesn’t, I’ll just have them do it again. If you’ve been filing yourself for a long time, and you think you could be getting more, you never know if it might be worth it to have your taxes prepared for you.

I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but it’s definitely getting me more money back this year.

February 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm

I would be careful, because I heard a tax expert on the radio this week emphasizing that the preparer (even a CPA)is NOT liable for any errors or misrepresentations in the tax filing.  The taxpayer is solely responsible for any errors that are found and the IRS often does not ‘catch’ you for several years.  They will go after you for as much as they can if they find any problems.  Just a word to the wise.

sarah, February 28, 2009 at 4:50 pm

That’s very true. I know because the IRS just “caught” me last year for an apparent mistake from two tax years before. Luckily, with my old paperwork, I was able to correct the scary $7,000 issue quickly with the surprisingly nice IRS agent over the phone.

Which taught me this lesson: you must keep your old paperwork, and you must know what everything means. If you don’t understand something, get them to explain it to you. They did stop and ask frequently. That’s a huge part of what you’re paying for.

And they will of course give you a copy of all the paperwork for your records.

Chuck, February 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

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