Q & A and Tips on Accounting, Taxes and Personal Finance.

Should I Prepare My Own Tax Return?

July 2, 2014 | By More

Doing your own tax return may sound like an easy way to save money, but is it the wisest move? What expertise can a trained tax professional offer over DIY with online tax forms and income tax software?

Linda Smith, Enrolled Agent in Orlando, Florida talks about why a paid Tax Preparer is usually the best choice for your tax return preparation.

Linda: With today’s easy access to technology, tax software programs abound. While using a computer reduces the chance for mathematical errors, it does not reduce the probability of human error.

For important issues such as your taxes, using a trained tax professional is best.

A paid Tax Preparer is responsible for the accuracy of a return and is required, by law, to sign the tax return including a preparer tax identification number. Therefore, do NOT accept a tax return from someone who for any reason will not sign a return or provide their I.D. number.


Choose a Tax Preparer who is readily available in the event your tax return is examined by the Internal Revenue Service or if there are questions regarding how your return was prepared.

While many long-distance tax preparation firms are qualified to assist you, consider whether the individual or firm will be around months or years after the return has been filed. Statute of Limitations to examine a return can range from 3 to 6 years and sometimes indefinitely.

Also consider the following:

  • Be wary of tax return preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than others.
  • Avoid tax return preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.
  • Use a reputable tax professional who signs the return, includes their identification number and provides a copy of the return to you (as required).
  • Check the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, CPA’s and ENROLLED AGENTS can represent Taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collections and appeals.

While pre-packaged programs may seem faster and less expensive, they are not nearly as sophisticated as the programs used by professionals. Canned responses to common questions on a computer generated form do not offer insight or alternative methodologies.

Hiring a Tax Professional from the beginning helps eliminate the change for common errors made by the average layperson taxpayer. This is especially true for those with complex tax issues such as divorce, business, inheritance and audit issues.



Contributed by Linda D Smith, Enrolled Agent – EA, ATA, ABA, CDFA, CFR, DMM
ATI Professional Services, Inc is located in Orlando, Florida. For more information or to contact Linda D Smith, Enrolled Agent, visit http://www.atipro.com

Article information should not be used exclusively to make legal, financial or tax decisions. Because laws and rules can change frequently, topics may not always be updated to reflect these changes or may not apply to your unique situation. It’s prudent to seek out the advice of a professional for your specific needs.

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Category: Taxes

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