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TaxesMany people have taxes all wrong: they pay for someone to prepare their tax returns but then either try to do some tax planning on their own or don’t do any at all.

The truth is it is tough to beat the tax planning advice that a qualified professional can give.  For many people, taxes are a very large annual expenditure, and some simple tax planning could easily save some people thousands of dollars a year.  Taxes have become so complicated that it is difficult for many people to plan for them on their own.

Tax software, however, makes it very easy and affordable for most people to prepare their own returns, as long as their taxes are not overly complicated.  The software asks you questions, and then prepares your return based on the answers you provide.  It holds your hand through the process and generally makes it quick and easy, even for people who know nothing about taxes.  Preparing your own tax returns is generally much cheaper than paying a professional to do it for you (as a tax professional, trust me on this one).

I’ve been using TurboTax to prepare my own return for years and would recommend it to anyone.  However, there are many other providers of tax preparation software as well.  I list below some of the other ones I’m familiar with:

Many of these products provide the following:

  • Step-by step guidance
  • Live support
  • An accurate calculation guarantee
  • Audit support
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Maximum refund guarantee

If appropriate for you, why not consider saving yourself some money by preparing your own tax return and then using the money you save to get some good tax planning advice to help you save even more money?

However, if you want to contribute to your CPA’s swimming pool or the alcohol at the next White House black tie dinner then pay someone to prepare your tax return and don’t do any tax planning at all.

For additional tax information, see our Tax Planning articles in the Personal Finance section of the site.

Image: cabania/bigstock

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