Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

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Reubin
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Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Reubin » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:51 pm

I've always had my tax returns done by an accountant but that person passed away 2 years ago. I went to a CPA who I know and he did a good job but charged me $500. He charged me the same the following year. I have some Vanguard investments with a few capital gains and the usual deductions. Am I wasting my money? Should I do the job myself? I'm retired now, live in NYC and the $500 seems a little bit high for what is being done for me.

arsenalfan
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by arsenalfan » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:53 pm

Start Turbotax online and see how it goes. You can complete it, and then pay at the end.

1099s are automatically imported from the major financial institutions like Vanguard; TT asks you about the itemized deductions.

Should take about 30 minutes tops to do - and see what you think.

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Pajamas
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Pajamas » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:55 pm

It's not difficult to do your own taxes using software for most people including with the situation you are briefly describing. The software has improved over the years in my opinion. You can usually either fill in the forms or go through the a questionnaire. If you have all the documents that you would have to give to your CPA, then it should be fairly straightforward.

Start early and then if you have so much trouble that you wished you had paid someone to do them, you can still do that. For 2017 you can compare your return to previous tax returns but there will be significant changes for 2018 taxes so there is that to consider for next year.

Reubin
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Reubin » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:55 pm

arsenalfan wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:53 pm
Start Turbotax online and see how it goes. You can complete it, and then pay at the end.

1099s are automatically imported from the major financial institutions like Vanguard; TT asks you about the itemized deductions.

Should take about 30 minutes tops to do - and see what you think.
Thanks. Aren't there different levels of TurboTax available? Which should I use?

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lthenderson
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by lthenderson » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:10 pm

I recommend if you have any doubts, do what I did. Pay someone to do your taxes and buy some tax software of your choice and do your own taxes. Compare the "answers". I was getting the same answer for a fifth of the price with tax software and that was over a decade ago. The software has only gotten better since then.

bsteiner
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by bsteiner » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:30 pm

Another way to try is to buy the 2016 software on Amazon or eBay and input your information and see how the result compares with the returns your accountant prepared.

The H&R Block (formerly TaxCut) is less expensive than TurboTax so you might try that one.

You’ll need the version that does both Federal and state.

If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, $500 is a modest price for an accountant in NYC. I think H&R Block (the preparer, not the software) would probably be a couple of hundred dollars and they’re not accountants.
Last edited by bsteiner on Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

obgraham
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by obgraham » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:31 pm

Allow me to come to the defense of the CPA, at least slightly.

Unless it is a big firm, the CPA has to pay a fee to his/her software/EFT provider. This fee is usually on a "per return" basis, and has risen a lot in recent years. It might be upwards of $200 per return, especially if only a small number of returns is done.

Mrs O was a self employed CPA, and soon found that just "doing a few returns for friends" was not economically viable as she got closer to retirement.

So now she just uses TurboTax -- the cheapest version -- to do ours. 30 bucks or so.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by tibbitts » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:33 pm

Reubin wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:51 pm
I've always had my tax returns done by an accountant but that person passed away 2 years ago. I went to a CPA who I know and he did a good job but charged me $500. He charged me the same the following year. I have some Vanguard investments with a few capital gains and the usual deductions. Am I wasting my money? Should I do the job myself? I'm retired now, live in NYC and the $500 seems a little bit high for what is being done for me.
What filing and forms are involved? What did your previous CPA charge? I'm not familiar with NYC - how many returns do you have to file?

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by bsteiner » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:37 pm

At one time NYC was a separate return. When the city enacted its income tax, I think in the 1960s, the state insisted that it be a separate return so taxpayers wouldn’t blame the state for the city tax. During the city’s fiscal crisis in the 1970s, the state took over the administration of the city income tax. Now it’s just a line on the state return,

mouses
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by mouses » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:47 pm

A couple of the financial organizations I have accounts at are hawking turbotax on their websites. I haven't even looked at the details since I do my taxes by hand. But perhaps you can get a discount that way.

I suspect if you looked at a copy of your last year's or last two years' returns, you could see whether you can do your return yourself. The forms and instructions are downloadable from irs.gov. Also Pub 17 has lots of useful information.

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Toons
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Toons » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:48 pm

" I have some Vanguard investments with a few capital gains and the usual deductions."

Sounds very easy.
Just follow the software Q&A
Step By Step.
Tax Software is designed for the "masses"
You know How to work with a computer.
You Can Do IT.
Do something else with the 400+ dollars you will save.
:happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by RudyS » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:54 pm

Reubin wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:55 pm
arsenalfan wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:53 pm
Start Turbotax online and see how it goes. You can complete it, and then pay at the end.

1099s are automatically imported from the major financial institutions like Vanguard; TT asks you about the itemized deductions.

Should take about 30 minutes tops to do - and see what you think.
Thanks. Aren't there different levels of TurboTax available? Which should I use?
TurboTax Deluxe should be more than good enough.

darrvao777
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by darrvao777 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:48 pm

Turbotax all the way

It imports all my Vanguard forms for me and is way cheaper than $500

retire57
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by retire57 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:21 pm

darrvao777 wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:48 pm
Turbotax all the way

It imports all my Vanguard forms for me and is way cheaper than $500
Ditto.

spammagnet
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by spammagnet » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:23 pm

RudyS wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:54 pm
Reubin wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:55 pm
Thanks. Aren't there different levels of TurboTax available? Which should I use?
TurboTax Deluxe should be more than good enough.
The program will try to get you to buy the more advanced version. Don't take the bait. Complete the tax return before you consider it. In all likelihood you won't need it.

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FiveK
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by FiveK » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:03 am

bsteiner wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:30 pm
Another way to try is to buy the 2016 software on Amazon or eBay and input your information and see how the result compares with the returns your accountant prepared.
+1

This is probably the best way for you to evaluate how well you will handle 2017 on your own. For a fair test, don't look at the return the CPA prepared until you have finished taking your 1099, etc., information and doing the 2016 return.

Matching the CPA's numbers is likely a sufficient test for you to do 2017 yourself. It's probably a conservative test, because you might learn enough from comparing 2016 numbers that you could do 2017 without error, but that will be your call.

sawhorse
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by sawhorse » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:35 am

Yours sounds like a simple return that wouldn't even require paid software unless you have many tax lots of capital gains and complicated deductions in which case I'd use one of the popular software programs.

Scrapr
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Scrapr » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:09 am

Credit Karma has free filing. State & Fed i think.

Remember though. You are the product

lynneny
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by lynneny » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:12 am

Not the OP, but you guys have inspired me to try doing my own taxes this year rather than looking for a new tax accountant (mine just retired).

I found Turbotax via Vanguard site, noted that I should probably pick Deluxe edition, but am stumped by the next decision: Desktop or Online version? I don't really know which to pick. I want to fill out the forms on my laptop, and be able to access this year's return after I file. It looks like Online costs $39.99, but doesn't include the state return I need, and Desktop costs $69.99, and includes state return. Which method do you guys use, and why?

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by uclalien » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:31 am

spammagnet wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:23 pm
RudyS wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:54 pm
Reubin wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:55 pm
Thanks. Aren't there different levels of TurboTax available? Which should I use?
TurboTax Deluxe should be more than good enough.
The program will try to get you to buy the more advanced version. Don't take the bait. Complete the tax return before you consider it. In all likelihood you won't need it.
Keep in mind that the online version of Turbotax Deluxe is a striped down version compared to the CD/download version. My understanding is that the online version does not walk you through certain investments/capital gains. Personally, I always opt for the CD/download version.

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FiveK
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by FiveK » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:31 am

lynneny wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:12 am
Which method do you guys use, and why?
Desktop because, for TT, the desktop version of the "same" edition has been know to contain more features than the online version.

uclalien
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by uclalien » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:37 am

lynneny wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:12 am
Desktop or Online version?
See above. The online and CD/download versions aren't even the same product. Go for the CD/download version. Plus, I prefer to limit how much highy sensitive information I put on websites like these. It is becoming far too common for these types of sites to get hacked.

westrichj312
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by westrichj312 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:14 am

If you don't have multiple rental properties or a business why not just go to HRB for about 100 bucks or do it yourself.

Reubin
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Reubin » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:57 am

westrichj312 wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:14 am
If you don't have multiple rental properties or a business why not just go to HRB for about 100 bucks or do it yourself.
Well, my return was complicated by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and I used the CPA to help me revise some tax returns from previous years. I definitely needed his help for that. But last year my return was fairly basic and I thought that the $500 was too much for what I received in return.

michaeljc70
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by michaeljc70 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:04 pm

I don't think $500 is high for a CPA to do your tax return. Even bothering with a simple return requires overhead and effort. You are over hiring, they are not overcharging. You could go to H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt or hire a non-CPA accountant or do the taxes yourself. If you have the same kind of deductions, gains, etc. as last year, you should be able to align things and do it yourself.

When I worked at a public accounting firm 25 years ago the minimum we charged was $300 for a return and that was not done by a CPA.

lynneny
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by lynneny » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:51 am

Thanks for the responses on which Turbotax to get. I'll go for the desktop/download version rather than the online one.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Momus » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:02 am

lynneny wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:51 am
Thanks for the responses on which Turbotax to get. I'll go for the desktop/download version rather than the online one.
Desktop because you can switch to forms back and forth, no hassle. No form mode in Online Version.

Desktop because you can pass along the CD to your friends, coworkers, and a lot of people, charge then $10... and make the $ back

Also, if this is the first time doing tax, and you have new business, property, married, and your situation has gotten a bit more complicated (or you just aren't sure about his added creative deduction value), go with CPA ONCE. Next year, and every year after that drop the CPA and copy everything he did in TT.

Reubin
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Reubin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:33 pm

Momus wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:02 am
lynneny wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:51 am
Thanks for the responses on which Turbotax to get. I'll go for the desktop/download version rather than the online one.
Desktop because you can switch to forms back and forth, no hassle. No form mode in Online Version.

Desktop because you can pass along the CD to your friends, coworkers, and a lot of people, charge then $10... and make the $ back

Also, if this is the first time doing tax, and you have new business, property, married, and your situation has gotten a bit more complicated (or you just aren't sure about his added creative deduction value), go with CPA ONCE. Next year, and every year after that drop the CPA and copy everything he did in TT.
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm going to try the desktop version of TT and give it a whirl. How many hours does it usually take you guys to complete this?

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Afty » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:37 pm

Reubin wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:33 pm
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm going to try the desktop version of TT and give it a whirl. How many hours does it usually take you guys to complete this?
Maybe 2-3 hours? I found it didn't take much more time than gathering all of the information you would need to give to your CPA anyway. My CPA would have me fill out a long form, which was pretty much the same amount of work as just entering it in Turbotax myself.

bh7785
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by bh7785 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:07 pm

Following the suggestion of many here, I went to look at the downloaded version of TurboTax. I have been using the web version for several years now with success.

This downloaded version looks to have some very poor reviews on Amazon, with many claiming that it doesn't install or work properly on Windows 10.

https://smile.amazon.com/TurboTax-Delux ... B077BD2HWM

That makes me incline to just spend the $80 or whatever it is for the web-deluxe version.

Texanbybirth
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Texanbybirth » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:15 pm

I'm using TT Deluxe on our laptop. I bought it on sale @ Amazon for $43.15 (tax included). Apparently it was $10 cheaper if you got the CD (pays to have an "old faithful" CD-ROM drive sometimes!), but that could have changed now. I copied the CD directory to a thumb drive and installed it on our laptop (no CD drive) from there. I finished our taxes in <30 minutes.

If this is your first year, it might take you a couple hours to type everything in and set everything up. One of the best parts is that next year if you like the product and buy it again it will import all your info. This is a tremendous benefit for those with investments.

Good luck, and of course there are some very smart people around here to (unofficially and anonymously) help you!

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Lemonaid56 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:04 pm

I have used Turbotax for many years. 2001? Maybe?
So back when we were getting the worst advice from a FA she also recommended we get taxes done by a CPA.
We tried it that year, thinking complex financial info and maybe getting some great advice. Ha! They took all the info I gave them while sitting right in front of them from all the paperwork I had gathered and just input it into their own "proprietary" tax software.
Now I had been doing all our taxes from the 70's my own, by scratch and then upgraded to Turbo when it got a lil more complex in the 90's.
I was so disappointed. They offered nothing more than what I could figure out on my own online or through Turbo . Being the skeptic I am I also bought Turbo that year and had the exact same return. Continued doing them myself after that.
What I did learn on my own, by doing my own taxes was exactly how much Ameriprise was making off us every year and that was the turning point for getting rid of them. Also being fortunate enough to find this forum and the books advixed here to continue on my own.
I came to believe that when an advisor tells you to have a CPA it will hide from you how much they are making off you! Do your own taxes like you would balance your own checking and pay your own bills and you will learn alot.
I only paid 150$ that one time to learn that I was scammed. We were fortunate. $500? You better have some pretty complex stuff there.We have two 401k's, IRA's . Roths, ESPP's . Taxable. Properties. Pension. Charities. Deductibles. Insurance. Health. Turbo can handle all that easy.
If you can keep your paperwork in the right piles this is easy. Don't be overwhelmed.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:08 pm

I have used Taxact.com for 10+ years. Switched to the online version for easier archiving.

I know it is under $20 for both Fed and State. I can log in from different computers. 2 factor checks are very secure.

I would pick an online option over the more traditional, install to a single pc.
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clown
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by clown » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:27 pm

I have used Turbo Tax "forever," ever since the program first came out in the 1980s. Talk about the corporate mantra of continuous improvement, they improve the program every year, and it just gets easier to use. Highly recommended. I buy the "Deluxe" version at Costco for about $40; it includes federal and California returns. And there is a small processing fee charged by Turbo Tax to file electronically ($25 last year). So that's an investment of $65 and an hour or two of your time, versus a $500 fee. Your choice.

On the Turbo Tax product box, you will see a comparison depicting which version covers which topics. We have dividends and sometimes capital gains via Vanguard, plus social security and a pension, and then the usual itemized deductions. Deluxe handles it for us.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Coinsinthefountain » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:50 pm

If not that much has changed in your financial life use last year’s CPA-done return as a guide/model. Dissect it to see where s/he got the numbers and go from there. I did this once, long ago. It worked for me and I learned a lot in the process.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by MrPotatoHead » Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:45 pm

Reubin wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:51 pm
I've always had my tax returns done by an accountant but that person passed away 2 years ago. I went to a CPA who I know and he did a good job but charged me $500. He charged me the same the following year. I have some Vanguard investments with a few capital gains and the usual deductions. Am I wasting my money? Should I do the job myself? I'm retired now, live in NYC and the $500 seems a little bit high for what is being done for me.
I have true story for you, but you won't believe it. My son has been doing taxes since he was 8 years old. At the time the taxes were typical. Wages, interest, dividends, capital gains...he was able to read the forms and do the math - correctly (P.S. he did throw a couple of temper tantrums, but who doesn't when doing taxes). Now as an adult, we continue the tradition of laying on the floor together and doing taxes. Only now instead of him doing mine and submitting it for my review he does his own and I do my own.

For your average person it is very simple. It is especially easy if you use last years tax returns to follow as a template as for most people only the numbers change.

I should point out Fido and a couple other companies offered me free turbo tax (I think) but I never have taken them up on their offer. I would post the offer, but I deleted them and pencil and paper forms works fine.

By the way, I have to pay taxes in the majority of the states I work in. A tax firm quoted me 11k to do my taxes, I did it by paper and pencil. I think I filed in 5 states that year. No big deal either. I just do not see the allure of tax software for the plebs.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by tibbitts » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:16 pm

bloom2708 wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:08 pm
I have used Taxact.com for 10+ years. Switched to the online version for easier archiving.

I know it is under $20 for both Fed and State. I can log in from different computers. 2 factor checks are very secure.

I would pick an online option over the more traditional, install to a single pc.
After many years of using Taxact for under $20 (federal and state) I couldn't find it for less than more than double that this year, so I switched.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by avram53 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:45 pm

Question about tax software: I've been using an accountant to do our returns each year.

Do the tax programs help a married couple determine if it makes more sense to file jointly,
or separately? Each year, our accountant's software allows him to quickly determine which way to file.

Thanks.
(Life is good, appreciate every day! Simplicity in investing works for me.)

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fear/greed
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by fear/greed » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:44 pm

I, too, was going to say that you can copy what was done last year by your tax preparer, as long as your financial picture hasn't changed much, tweaking the numbers as need be. And, like someone else mentioned, you could also do them by hand. I'm doing mine by hand. I printed out the forms I will need from the IRS.gov website, and also printed out the sections of the instructions I will need.

I did them by hand last year. But it turned out that I made a mistake with the 1099 numbers from my new brokerage account - a few months after I filed, the IRS was good enough to send me corrections along with a check for the few hundred dollars that I overpaid.

And about a decade ago, I had the same experience as someone else upthread - I went to a tax guy and he just typed in all the info that I'd just handed to him - the hardest part had been gathering the paperwork (that time it was for a relative's taxes, not mine).

The software sounds great! But I'm not ready to give in... :)

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by spammagnet » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:42 pm

avram53 wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:45 pm
... Do the tax programs help a married couple determine if it makes more sense to file jointly, or separately? Each year, our accountant's software allows him to quickly determine which way to file.
I started out with Taxcut long before it was owned by HR Block, then switched to TT in more recent years. In neither case has the software ever given me a comparison of outcomes. That said, it would be easy to complete the information one way and save the file, then go back through the interview mode using a copy of the same file. Since all numbers have been entered it wouldn't be hard to test the alternate approach by changing the filing status. When doing a joint return, it does ask who owns the bank account, etc., so the division of income is already made.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by spammagnet » Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:46 pm

fear/greed wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:44 pm
... - the hardest part had been gathering the paperwork (that time it was for a relative's taxes, not mine).
When I used Taxcut long ago, it had a menu option it called "Shoebox". It asked you a few questions about the kind of form you had in your hand, then took you to that random point in the return. After you finished putting in all your forms you could go through the interview from the beginning. All of the numeric data would already be there. The answers you gave determined conditional branching in the interview, and which forms it had you complete.

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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by tibbitts » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:13 pm

avram53 wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:45 pm
Question about tax software: I've been using an accountant to do our returns each year.

Do the tax programs help a married couple determine if it makes more sense to file jointly,
or separately? Each year, our accountant's software allows him to quickly determine which way to file.

Thanks.
Yes, and you can for example test traditional vs. Roth IRA, etc., but understand that it does take time. If you haven't used a specific program before, it can sometimes take you a while to figure out how to do something, how to avoid accidentally auto-saving, etc. etc. Probably a lot of Bogleheads would say that the software is trivial to use, but I know at times I've only rescued myself from making mistakes with software by basically knowing what the answer should be (approximately) and going back and figuring out why the software isn't giving me that. My taxes are generally very simple but I spend hours and hours on them every year - far more time than I would just handing over statement to an accountant.

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fear/greed
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by fear/greed » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:16 pm

spammagnet wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 10:46 pm
fear/greed wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:44 pm
... - the hardest part had been gathering the paperwork (that time it was for a relative's taxes, not mine).
When I used Taxcut long ago, it had a menu option it called "Shoebox". It asked you a few questions about the kind of form you had in your hand, then took you to that random point in the return. After you finished putting in all your forms you could go through the interview from the beginning. All of the numeric data would already be there. The answers you gave determined conditional branching in the interview, and which forms it had you complete.
That's brilliant - that's how all machines/systems that serve us should work.

Thatthatisis
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Thatthatisis » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:00 am

The choice presented here is pay an expensive $500 or use an online program and do it yourself for a few bucks. But there is a third choice: get a cheaper CPA.

My spouse used to do our taxes, and the biggest problem was calculating the individual earnings from the stocks & bonds. What a headache. We got an accountant for $300. Now we just mail him everything and go out to eat. Best decision we ever made.

wfrobinette
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by wfrobinette » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:36 am

arsenalfan wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:53 pm
Start Turbotax online and see how it goes. You can complete it, and then pay at the end.

1099s are automatically imported from the major financial institutions like Vanguard; TT asks you about the itemized deductions.

Should take about 30 minutes tops to do - and see what you think.
Been a turbo tax customer for 20 years. Switched to online in 2012.

It's handled casualty losses, investments, stock options. Try it for free.

dcabler
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by dcabler » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:41 am

Always did my own. Fantastic once software was available to help automate it. Unless you have a really unusual tax situation, most of the software guides you through things nicely. Plus much of the info can get auto-populated by downloading from the major brokerage houses and W2's from places like ADP. We spend more time just checking the paperwork we get against the auto-populated data than we do manually filling in any information. Never found an issue, though. Plus they're pretty good about knowing what you did the previous year, so that serves as a reminder in case you forget something.

oaks
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by oaks » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:51 am

Most don't need a CPA; in fact most should understand what does what in tax forms so that they are more educated and can make better tax decisions throughout the year.

Is it worth $500? If the taxes are spot on and there isn't any back and forth. However, my experience with CPA's is that I spend almost as much time, if not more, going back and forth with mistakes on the proposed final return from the CPA that I just started doing it myself. It also reduced the frustration since I wasn't thinking "I am paying this guy $500 and yet he makes silly mistakes."

Based upon what you described, do it yourself so that you can learn and once you have it done you'll save $500 a year every single year for the rest of your life.

bloom2708
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by bloom2708 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:38 pm

For those that pay $300 or $500 or more to have someone else do your taxes, how do you ensure it is done correctly?

One year I paid a very highly recommended firm $350 to do our taxes. I had to gather all the information. Get it in order.

Then I had to double check everything. They made glaring mistakes. Left items out. Consolidated and took shortcuts that made it harder to verify.

I felt like an idiot who had been take for $350. Several co-workers use this same company. They handed over $350 and went out to eat. I have no idea how some company with some papers can understand your situation unless it is very very simple.

Meh. I'll keep doing it myself until something super complex comes along. At that point I'll ask this wise group for sage advice. :wink:
Where to spend your time: | 1. You completely control <--spend your time here! | 2. You partially control <--spend very little time here! | 3. You have no control <--spend no time here

JoeRetire
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by JoeRetire » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:49 pm

Reubin wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:51 pm
Am I wasting my money? Should I do the job myself? I'm retired now, live in NYC and the $500 seems a little bit high for what is being done for me.
I've always done my own taxes - on paper in the early days, then more recently online.
It's never been all that difficult. And as far as I can tell I have never missed anything important.

One time when I wasn't convinced I had done everything right, I brought it to a local tax prep service. They looked it over, confirmed that I had it right, and charged me nothing.

Try it yourself. If you find yourself getting lost in the weeds then call in a pro. This is what I've done with pretty much everything - handiwork, repairs, etc. I try first, then decide if it's worth paying for help or not.
Last edited by JoeRetire on Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Afty
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Re: Should I Do My Own Taxes Or Pay A CPA $500?

Post by Afty » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:53 pm

bloom2708 wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:38 pm
For those that pay $300 or $500 or more to have someone else do your taxes, how do you ensure it is done correctly?

One year I paid a very highly recommended firm $350 to do our taxes. I had to gather all the information. Get it in order.

Then I had to double check everything. They made glaring mistakes. Left items out. Consolidated and took shortcuts that made it harder to verify.

I felt like an idiot who had been take for $350. Several co-workers use this same company. They handed over $350 and went out to eat. I have no idea how some company with some papers can understand your situation unless it is very very simple.

Meh. I'll keep doing it myself until something super complex comes along. At that point I'll ask this wise group for sage advice. :wink:
I've had the same experience -- I had to double check the CPAs work, and usually I would find at least one thing wrong, sometimes seriously wrong. Another reason I started doing it myself.

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