DIY Tax Software Not Always a Good Option

I have a dear friend who used to work as a developer for TurboTax, and I can say from many interviews with him and testing of the software that it technically works fine. There’s no major bug in it as far as I can tell (though it’s a crime that they won’t let you review your forms as you go through the interview, or before submitting them).

The big, glaring issue in my opinion is their marketing, as well as their tax prep interview language, which makes it sound like anyone can do their own taxes. This simply isn’t true.

If you have a non-complex tax situation and your life has not changed significantly from prior years, then by all means, use a DIY program. Side note: I used to like TaxAct best, when Kiplinger owned it, but now H&R Block does, and it’s filled with advertising, promo and pressure to pay more to contact them for extra bells & whistles (review, advice, audit protection, etc.).

But if you have a complex situation or things have changed since the prior year, you really should consult a professional. And when I say a “professional”, I mean make sure that an EA or a CPA is doing your taxes, not just having a high school kid prepare them and have the professional “sign off”.

There have been so many situations — including an unfortunate major audit — where I’ve reviewed client tax returns they prepared themselves using TurboTax and found glaring mistakes. They come to me to figure out what went wrong… and the obvious answer is that they shouldn’t have been doing their own taxes in the first place.

This isn’t an advertisement for my own services — I’m not even accepting new tax clients. This is a serious warning for your own good. Not everyone can do their own taxes. This court case is a great example of why — the defendant blamed the software for “luring him” into claiming deductions. So if you DO decide to do your own taxes and you mess up, keep in mind that the court won’t take “the software made me do it” as a defense.

Source: Why DIY Tax Software is Not a Good Option | AccountingWEB

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