Who does your tax returns?

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Holden42
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Who does your tax returns?

Post by Holden42 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:03 am

Curious who do most people use for their tax returns?

Do it yourself/ TurboTax
Individual CPA
Small Firm
Regional Firm
Big 4

CPA only or CPA Tax Attorney combo?

I’m looking for someone new so just curious what type most here use. I’m 50 married, family, W2, Chicago.

Thanks!

02nz
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by 02nz » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:08 am

I do my own with TurboTax. I've learned so much by seeing how each entry impacts the tax refund (or tax due) and running my own what-if scenarios. This is a good way to understand your taxes, which helps you make more tax-efficient decisions in the future. Each year the software remains pretty much the same (and data is imported from the previous return), so once you do it it's pretty easy going forward (and isn't hard to begin with).

fru-gal
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by fru-gal » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am

Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.

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Tamarind
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Tamarind » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:17 am

I do it myself with Free Fillable Forms. I prefer to work though the instructions for the various forms rather than pay for software or a professional. When I was getting started I had a CPA do my taxes twice, then followed the logic from the docs I sent in to how they completed the forms.

Yes, I'm the kind of nerd that actually enjoys doing my taxes. I work with information systems all day so there's nothing hard about it. Every so often I come here for a clarifying question.

nolesrule
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by nolesrule » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:27 am

I have my dad do it. He's a CPA and tax attorney. I study the return every year though, and I've learned something new every year as our situation changes.

I've successfully modeled our tax return in spreadsheets so I think I can handle it when dad no longer wants to do it.

oldfatguy
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by oldfatguy » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:29 am

Tamarind wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:17 am
I do it myself with Free Fillable Forms. I prefer to work though the instructions for the various forms rather than pay for software or a professional.
Same here. I've tried free software a couple of times, and always gave up part way through it. The questions were cumbersome and poorly worded.
Last edited by oldfatguy on Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by RickBoglehead » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:29 am

TurboTax since at least 1995.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

Wricha
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Wricha » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:33 am

Regional firm for both personal/business. If I only had my personal returns I would still have a professional do them as I don’t trust myself!

Longdog
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Longdog » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:40 am

I do it myself, and have used both TurboTax and H&R Block software. I understand every item and every calculation. If you’re not doing it yourself (perhaps using Turbotax or similar software package), or at least carefully reviewing what someone else has done for you so that you can do it yourself the following year, then you are missing out on learning valuable information that you can use to make well-reasoned investment and other financial decisions. Handing it off to someone else can be costly beyond the actual transaction cost.
Steve

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djpeteski
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by djpeteski » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:46 am

Very small firm. The insight and advice we get from this group far exceeds the cost to file. The money that they saved me last year will probably pay for 20 years of their fee to prepare our returns.

mptfan
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by mptfan » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:48 am

I was shaving this morning and I looked in the mirror and I saw the guy who does my tax returns staring back at me.

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Stinky
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Stinky » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:49 am

fru-gal wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am
Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Exactly what I do.

I’ve found immense value over the years over really understanding how my taxes work.
It's a GREAT day to be alive - Travis Tritt

anon_investor
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by anon_investor » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:52 am

Turbo tax, but I only have W-2 and 1099 bank interest/investment income.

Hockey10
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Hockey10 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:59 am

I use TurboTax, plus I read all of the tax questions posted on Bogleheads. You can learn a lot from livesoft.....
Last edited by Hockey10 on Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

HomeStretch
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by HomeStretch » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:01 am

I have an excel spreadsheet that computes my federal and state taxes. I use TurboTax to prepare personal and business returns.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:02 am

TurboTax does mine. I help by providing the input data.

Then I double check it against my Excel spreadsheet.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

Pete3
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Pete3 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:13 am

02nz wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:08 am
I do my own with TurboTax. I've learned so much by seeing how each entry impacts the tax refund (or tax due) and running my own what-if scenarios. This is a good way to understand your taxes, which helps you make more tax-efficient decisions in the future. Each year the software remains pretty much the same (and data is imported from the previous return), so once you do it it's pretty easy going forward (and isn't hard to begin with).
+1 to everything above. Turbotax for as long as I can remember.

daheld
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by daheld » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:20 am

DIY with TurboTax, except for a couple years when I had logging income from a family farm owned jointly by my brother and I. I wanted a CPA familiar with this to do it.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:23 am

I don’t know why, but I use TurboTax to compute our taxes AND then have our CPA do the return and file. I had been doing the kids’ taxes, but they do them themselves now.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:27 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:23 am
I don’t know why, but I use TurboTax to compute our taxes AND then have our CPA do the return and file....
Trust but verify?
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

Mr. Rumples
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Mr. Rumples » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:32 am

I do mine like I have for decades, long form by paper with a calculator from the dollar store. When I moved back to Va., I drove to the tax dept. in Richmond and one of their customer service folks helped me complete the part year tax form while she waited. My brother calls me a luddite.

To help reduce mistakes, I do it, set it aside for a week or two and then go over the figures. So far, I have only had to do two amended returns.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:38 am

djpeteski wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:46 am
Very small firm. The insight and advice we get from this group far exceeds the cost to file. The money that they saved me last year will probably pay for 20 years of their fee to prepare our returns.
Care to share how they did that?

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teen persuasion
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by teen persuasion » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:40 am

fru-gal wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am
Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Exactly! Then I run it thru TurboTax to efile. I would love to use the free fillable forms, but my state insists that if you efile federal, you must efile state, too, but they don't provide their own fillable forms. You thus must use commercial SW to efile.

I really despise the Q & A format of commercial SW, just let me fill in the blanks! I've been told the premium versions let you toggle directly to forms, but I'm eligible to use the free versions, so cost wins out over convenience.

I've learned the hard way that you must start with the links on your state's free file page, not the IRS free file links, if you want the state return also free. One year TurboTax was inexplicably not on the state's approved list; the one I chose turned out to be H&R Block in disguise (why?), and their result conflicted with my own and TurboTax's result - wouldn't allow the AOTC for DD3. That's my biggest reason for doing it by hand first - so i catch any errors before it is filed, rather than relying implicitly on the SW.

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leeks
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by leeks » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:42 am

I have always done my own with various tax software (20 years)
I did my husband's returns since we started living together, he has as spring birthday so I would call it a birthday present (he hates paperwork and such).
We have been using Turbotax for the last 5+ years.
My husband enjoys just getting the summary.
Ages 38/36, two little kids, single W2 income >$300K, married filing jointly, not home owners, investments are all simple. This year I will have some self-employment income as well, but nothing that would require special tax advice.

One of the things I really like about having it in Turbotax is that you can open the prior year's return and play with different scenarios to forecast tax impact of various options.

Disclaimer: a close relative is a CPA so I can get any questions answered with a quick phone call.

Chris K Jones
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Chris K Jones » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:44 am

I use tax prep software and have been using for more than 15 years. Lately has been Turbotax. I have fairly straightforward tax situation.

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Tamarind
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Tamarind » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:48 am

teen persuasion wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:40 am
fru-gal wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am
Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Exactly! Then I run it thru TurboTax to efile. I would love to use the free fillable forms, but my state insists that if you efile federal, you must efile state, too, but they don't provide their own fillable forms. You thus must use commercial SW to efile.
That's deeply annoying. I don't qualify for free e-file in my state so I fill out the form (printable PDF with form fields), print it out, and mail it in. My state return always takes weeks longer to process than my federal.

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Psyayeayeduck
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Psyayeayeduck » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:48 am

freetaxusa.com -- Simple, clean, and relatively cheap.

I avoid TurboTax and H&R Block like the plague for reasons that I won't go into because it would violate Bogleheads rules.

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teen persuasion
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by teen persuasion » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:58 am

Tamarind wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:48 am
teen persuasion wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:40 am
fru-gal wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:11 am
Do it myself by hand. Then I know what affects my taxes to what degree, and no software program is screwing it up. Also, zero cost.
Exactly! Then I run it thru TurboTax to efile. I would love to use the free fillable forms, but my state insists that if you efile federal, you must efile state, too, but they don't provide their own fillable forms. You thus must use commercial SW to efile.
That's deeply annoying. I don't qualify for free e-file in my state so I fill out the form (printable PDF with form fields), print it out, and mail it in. My state return always takes weeks longer to process than my federal.
Agreed!

A while back the state began developing fillable forms, but only rolled a few basic ones out first, implying it was a work in progress. They also claimed some high percentage of residents could use the current subset of forms, maybe 94%? IDK, it was a large majority, anyway. Looking at them, we couldn't use them because none of the forms relating to children were included yet: child tax credit, EITC, college tax credit. Really, a majority of residents neither have a child under 17 nor a college student?

A few years later, they abandoned the whole effort and left it to commercial SW instead. :annoyed

aristotelian
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by aristotelian » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:01 am

This guy! I would normally use FreetaxUSA but I now have to file taxes for my kids' inheritance and the online platforms won't support minors, so I use Turbotax Deluxe (Download).

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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by JAZZISCOOL » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:07 am

Individual CPA. More expensive than Turbotax, etc. but worth it IMO.

stoptothink
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:13 am

Have done my own since I was 18 and I now do it for a few other members of the family as well. Have used Turbotax and taxslayer in the past, but last year I used creditkarma and my situation is simple enough that it works fine.

I did pay a CPA twice because I was audited 2yrs in a row. To this day I have no clue why and the CPA was similarly confused. I was a PhD student with a moderate stipend and about the most straight-forward return you can imagine. At least nothing came of it either time, except paying a CPA to make it go away.

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jhfenton
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by jhfenton » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:51 am

Holden42 wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:03 am
Do it yourself/ TurboTax
Holden42 wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:03 am
CPA only or CPA Tax Attorney combo?
I do our federal and state using commercial software and verify everything myself, and then my wife double-checks them. If I don't have free state e-file, I'll copy the numbers over into Ohio's free online e-file.

My wife is a CPA. I'm an attorney with a masters in tax.

So I guess these two both apply to us. :beer

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:10 am

cheese_breath wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:27 am
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:23 am
I don’t know why, but I use TurboTax to compute our taxes AND then have our CPA do the return and file....
Trust but verify?
I guess so. I’ve only discovered one small thing that he missed, and he caught one small thing that I missed. He offered me a small side hustle double-checking the returns out of his office, but I think I’ll volunteer with one of the tax programs instead (after my firewood volunteering is done).
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

tomd37
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by tomd37 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:39 am

The OPs list of who does your tax return did not include one big source of tax preparation services; AARP Foundation Tax-Aide (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) who prepare well over 2,000,000 returns each year at no cost to the taxpayer.

The IRS also sponsors a similar free program for low to moderate income individuals, through the United Way in my area, called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). They probably do more free returns than Tax-Aide but have an income limit.
Tom D.

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djpeteski
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by djpeteski » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:12 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:38 am
djpeteski wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:46 am
Very small firm. The insight and advice we get from this group far exceeds the cost to file. The money that they saved me last year will probably pay for 20 years of their fee to prepare our returns.
Care to share how they did that?
Sure. There is the typical stuff of moving to an LLC and diverting a decent portion of our income to dividends and greatly increasing our ability to contribute to qualified plans. That more than pays the bill on having our returned prepared by them.

However, we got our selves into a situation where a company owes us a decent amount of money. They are struggling with income and offered us a property that is worth a bit more than they owe us. So we were going to give them some cash, we would take the property sell it. We would be made whole, and they would have some cash in exchange for an asset that they don't really need anymore. Sounds pretty fair to everyone, right?

Well the accountants pointed out that if this company goes bankrupt in the next three years from the transaction date (and they likely will), a bankruptcy judge will likely order us to surrender the proceeds of the sale of the property and get in line with other creditors. We would likely be out more than what they owed us at the time. It saved us a trip to the lawyer and we were only there to consult on the tax implications.

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cowdogman
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by cowdogman » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:13 am

TurboTax for 20+ years, with a very detailed Excel spreadsheet as a double check (and to allow me to do tax planning during the year.)

We have a couple businesses (no employees) and individual 401(k)s--and for the last few years I have been beginning to question my decision to do our taxes on our own. I enjoy doing our taxes and think I am good at it, but it is more than possible I'm missing tax saving strategies.

In an ideal world I would like to keep doing our own taxes, but then send them to a CPA to review and discuss with us. But I have yet to pull the trigger on that.

dcdowden
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by dcdowden » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:17 am

I have been using TurboTax for as long as I can remember. I have always done my own taxes. I had an executive perk of financial planning services that included taxes while I was working. They sent me a paper booklet that they wanted me to fill out with all the info they needed, but I found it just easier to plug the numbers directly into TurboTax. I did call them a couple times with questions rather than deal with the IRS, but now I would just refer to this BH Forum.

It seems like it is getting easier with TurboTax with direct downloads of investment transactions from Vanguard and Fidelity. I have also found it useful to be able to do various what if exercises by playing with the numbers in TurboTax. I also do taxes for my Mother, MIL, SIL and my two adult children, so the cost of the software goes a long way.

22twain
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by 22twain » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:34 am

Holden42 wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:03 am
I’m looking for someone new
What/who are you using now and why are you looking to change?
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.

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MN-Investor
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by MN-Investor » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:40 am

I'm not sure when I started using TurboTax, but I do have data files for TurboTax going back to 1992, so at least then. I'll stick with what I know.
The key to success - Save early, save often, invest well.

MathWizard
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by MathWizard » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:42 am

TurboTax. Before that, by hand.


We tried a CPA firm twice, each time when my wife started a business. The hard work was getting all the numbers
together: Income, Expenses with justification and receipts.
My wife would have all these with a calculator tape with the numbers and total all paper-clipped together.

All the firm did is have some clerk plug the numbers that my wife had prepared into a form.
We could certainly do that cheaper than paying a firm.

montanagirl
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by montanagirl » Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:46 am

I did ours for years using TaxCut/H&R Block because the software was always cheaper. Then in "retirement" I went to work for Block and used their internal system for 5 years for my freebie return. Gonna miss that!

Now I'm going to be back to using consumer software again. Last year threw me for a loop with all the new QBI stuff but that has no bearing on the personal return now.

milo minderbinder
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by milo minderbinder » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:22 pm

I used to do it by hand many years ago but now use turbotax. The ability to download from financial institutions is a big help.

A question for the folks who do it by hand: how difficult is the AMT calculation?

vasu100
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by vasu100 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:33 pm

I used TurboBox for ~20 years. But then circa 2011 when they started putting ESPP-sale related money on the W2, I made a mistake in TurboTax and forgot to adjust the cost basis for ESPP. So I was paying too much, and then I repeated the mistake from 2012-2017, And I got audited in 2017 because the IRS saw a difference in cost basis from what they expected.

So then I had to refile (and could only back 3 years - 2014, 15, 16, 17). The good news with the refiling was that I got larger refunds. But there were many bad things
- Could not refile 2011, 2012, 2013 where I made the same mistake
- My 2014 and 2015 taxes were on my Mac. But my Mac had been upgraded to new OS by 2017, and could not open the old TurboTax forms. I tried many things to fix this, but nothing worked.
- Being distracted and busy, I had neglected to save PDF versions of 2014 and 2015. SO it was a mess, and I had to get my old returns from IRS site so I could refile
- In the middle of this mess, I decided to go to Liberty Tax and take care of the mess for me

SO now I use Liberty Tax (used them again in 2018 and 2019). I still think about doing my-own with TurboTax every February, but my wife will not allow it ;-)

scrabbler1
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by scrabbler1 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:34 pm

I have homemade spreadsheets which are skeleton versions of the tax forms I will end up completing. I then use the free fillable forms. The IRS ones are decent, but my state's forms are better because they do the calculations, too. I do this for two friends' returns.

I tried TurboTax 3 years ago as a check on my work but the numbers which came out were total nonsense, so I tossed TT away. From my admittedly warped perspective, I don't know how TT works correctly for anyone!

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ChowYunPhat
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by ChowYunPhat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:40 pm

Psyayeayeduck wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:48 am
freetaxusa.com -- Simple, clean, and relatively cheap.

I avoid TurboTax and H&R Block like the plague for reasons that I won't go into because it would violate Bogleheads rules.
+1

Someone on another thread suggested FreeTaxUSA. We tried them last year and worked great. Our situation is itemization with W2 and investment incomes.
A wise man and his money are friends forever...

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Michael Patrick
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Michael Patrick » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:42 pm

I prepare my returns myself using H&R Block software.

I used to use TurboTax, but decided to move away from Intuit because of the mess they had made of Quicken.

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Hector
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Hector » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:48 pm

I used to do it via free fillable forms. Now I don't want to spend that much time to save some $$ and am using TurboTax.

Dead Man Walking
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Dead Man Walking » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:47 pm

For more than 50 years, I actually read the tax booklet that the IRS sent to taxpayers and completed the necessary forms. I could pick up forms that didn’t come with the booklet at the library. Of course, the IRS stopped sending the booklets to every taxpayer. I was able to get the booklet at the library and used online forms. I find the format of the online booklet cumbersome - it requires too much scrolling. When the forms were “simplified” last year, I chose to use a local CPA recommended by a few friends. Although I’ve been told that it’s easy to use, I’m too old and lazy to learn tax software. Since my wife hasn’t done taxes since we were married 48 years ago, I thought it was a good idea that we cultivate a relationship with a CPA. I’m relieved that I don’t have to keep up with changes in tax laws.

DMW

Cyanide123
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Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Cyanide123 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:01 pm

I've been doing turbo tax or some sort of tax software up until 2018. My taxes until 2018 were fairly simple - w2s, some stock activity, dividends, and that's about it.

This year for the first time, I'm getting a cpa. I could probably still do them myself this year, but I'm at a point where it's not worth my time. Plus the complexity has increased. 2 W2 incomes, 2 or maybe 3 1099 incomes. One sole proprietor LLC with schedule C deductions with plan to switch to S corp taxation in 2020. Some traditional to roth conversations and then the usual market activity dividends etc.

I have a pending meeting with a cpa who said I'm looking between 525-575 for this current tax year and around $1000 for next year as S corp with a one time fee for setting up the S corp structure

Lee_WSP
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Location: Arizona

Re: Who does your tax returns?

Post by Lee_WSP » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:03 pm

Independent cpa. She does my bookkeeping as well.

But, I file a schedule c and two tax returns now. If I just had a W-2, I'd probably DIY, but the sheer amount of hours required to input everything is beyond my personal sanity threshold.

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