If you’re a typical person, who earns money from an employer and has no complicated financial dealings, it’s not hard to prepare your own taxes. I prepare my own taxes every year, and I haven’t messed up yet! All it takes is a little organization and a good tax program.

Organizing to Pay Your Taxes

The first thing you’ll want to do is gather your paperwork. You’ll need W-2 forms from your employer(s), tax paperwork you’ve received from your bank, your student loan company, and your mortgage company. If you itemize, you’ll also want to gather receipts for your deductible expenses.

Hopefully you’ve been saving your receipts in an organized manner throughout the year, or this step might take some time.

Select Your Tax Software

In the past I’ve used both H&R Block and Turbo Tax. Both are good, straightforward programs. I personally prefer Turbo Tax, because I find it slightly easier to use.

Both programs offer a free option for federal taxes, though you’ll have to pay, if you want to file your state taxes with them. If you decide you need a more robust program, you always have the option to upgrade. Because of my blog income, I always need to upgrade. It’s still cheaper than paying an accountant, though.

The thing I love most about Turbo Tax is that you don’t pay until you actually file your taxes. That means you can play around with the program and see if it’s for you, before you commit to paying any fees (if you decide to upgrade or file your state taxes with them). If you free-file your government taxes and do your own state taxes, of course, there are no fees.

It’s Not Hard to Prepare Your Own Taxes

If you don’t have a lot of complicated financial issues, it’s really not hard to prepare your own taxes, using software like Turbo Tax. I was a little worried about it last year, since we had bought a house and I had some self-employment income. But as Turbo Tax walked me through the form, I found it really easy to plug in numbers and let Turbo Tax do the calculating for me.

If you’re worried about not getting all the deductions you can, there really is no worry. Turbo Tax will ask you about every possibility, so you don’t miss any deductions or credits. And if you find you’d get a bigger refund with another tax software? Turbo Tax will refund your money.

For complicated financial issues, it’s probably best to get an accountant. But if your taxes are straightforward, it’s not hard to prepare your own taxes.

Do you prepare your own taxes? Or do you use an accountant? Why?

Photo by alancleaver_2000.