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Old 08-13-12, 09:35 AM   #1
pgoat
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2012 taxes - DIY or hire a pro?

My wife and have always filed ourselves - it's been easy enough; no kids, no itemizing, we just rented an apartment and each had basic FT jobs. No wacky finances, just basic retirement and a few stocks.

This year we bought our first home and tapped a small portion of retirement funds to do so. We'll need to make sure we're not penalized (1st time home buyers shouldn't be penalized for early distribution) and that we get the full deduction benefits of mortgage interest, home improvements we laid out for, etc.

Some people say yes, hire a pro and pay (a few hundred bucks?). Others say nonsense, just do a Quicken or what have you. Not sure if we'd be biting off more than we could chew, or if the software would be much cheaper than just paying someone to do it for us.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 08-13-12, 09:47 AM   #2
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I paid like $50 for my tax session and that included for my commercial taekwondo gym.
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Old 08-13-12, 09:50 AM   #3
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Have an electrician do it?
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Old 08-13-12, 09:53 AM   #4
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We've always used turbotax, but hope to be buying our own home later this fall (and changing states right at the end of the year), so I'm not sure what we're going to do. Hopefully, we can change our residency Jan 1, so as not to have to deal with two state tax issues which have pained me greatly in the past.
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Old 08-13-12, 09:54 AM   #5
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H&R block. I think our taxes are much more simple than yours but I'm not sure, mine took maybe half an hour
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Old 08-13-12, 10:40 AM   #6
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I always have a pro do it and she uses H&R Blocks software.

The cost isn't to bad, I have to cook most of the time and I would have to cook all the time if I got rid of her, but she does clean really well. Plus I think my son might start to miss his mother.

Marring a Tax Accountant is a big advantage once a year.
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Old 08-13-12, 10:44 AM   #7
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My wife and have always filed ourselves - it's been easy enough; no kids, no itemizing, we just rented an apartment and each had basic FT jobs. No wacky finances, just basic retirement and a few stocks.

This year we bought our first home and tapped a small portion of retirement funds to do so. We'll need to make sure we're not penalized (1st time home buyers shouldn't be penalized for early distribution) and that we get the full deduction benefits of mortgage interest, home improvements we laid out for, etc.

Some people say yes, hire a pro and pay (a few hundred bucks?). Others say nonsense, just do a Quicken or what have you. Not sure if we'd be biting off more than we could chew, or if the software would be much cheaper than just paying someone to do it for us.

Any advice would be appreciated.
Software does a good job and is cheaper. My wife always goes with H&R Blocks software because it is a little cheaper than Turbo Tax. She generally tells most individuals to go with the software and that it is really easy, plus if you take it to a tax service, they are just going to enter the information into some software package anyways. They don't do them by hand, all they will do is look over the return after the software spits out the results.
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Old 08-13-12, 10:48 AM   #8
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I use Turbo Tax Deluxe. It's usually on sale at Costco in January. I upgrade to the Premiere version if I've sold any investments because it downloads the information from the broker's websites and I don't have to input all of the data.
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Old 08-13-12, 11:36 AM   #9
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This is all great to know, thanks folks!
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Old 08-13-12, 11:38 AM   #10
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Have an electrician do it?
That's another option, sure. Are there any antiqued brass electricians with a center-cut circle out there who can operate a calculator at 220V?
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Old 08-13-12, 11:40 AM   #11
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This is all great to know, thanks folks!
So you are going to take my advice and figure out how to hook up with a tax accountant?

Only downfall, they tend to be tightwads, so getting funding for new bikes can be difficult.
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Old 08-13-12, 11:43 AM   #12
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Well, a divorce will likely make my return even more complicated, so, no.
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Old 08-13-12, 11:47 AM   #13
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Your world has changed. You are now itemizing. Did you donate anything anywhere? used clothes to a local shelter? Those count. Car registration?

Good chance gonig with a real pro can be helpful. A real pro, not someone who just uses the same software you can get.

Of course a real pro does a bit of planning also, thinking of getting those deductions before the year is over.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:04 PM   #14
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Well, a divorce will likely make my return even more complicated, so, no.
No divorce, just become mormon and add an extra wife. Once you explain to the current wife that you only want the new one for the extra money she brings in and her tax preparation ability and NOT the sex (which is just a formality you have to put up with), I'm sure she'll go for it.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:10 PM   #15
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I think software will be just fine in your case. Turbo Tax, TaxCut, etc do a pretty good job nowadyas. Just don't rush through it and read the questions the software prompts you carefully. And do it twice
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Old 08-13-12, 12:37 PM   #16
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Your world has changed. You are now itemizing. Did you donate anything anywhere? used clothes to a local shelter? Those count. Car registration?
Not really, we have dropped off old clothes at a textile recyclers booth at the local green market. No car. We did pay a bit here and there for electrical work and re-did our wood floors. Also put in new light fixtures in a couple of rooms. I think that's about it, though I guess the risk of DIY is we'll miss something. My sister is a tax attorney so I suppose I could pick her brain before doing the software route...

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I think software will be just fine in your case. Turbo Tax, TaxCut, etc do a pretty good job nowadyas. Just don't rush through it and read the questions the software prompts you carefully. And do it twice
Thanks, and yes, we always do our math two or three times before sending in the returns anyway.

I am kinda thinking, if we can handle the basic NY State return, which has all sorts of wacky mathematical formulas centered on extremely minor amounts (20 mins of math to calculate a credit of $.45, or whatever - does every state torture its residents so?), we should be able to do the software route...I'm mostly worried we'll miss out on deductions we're unaware of, or if we did botch up, we will owe more than we originally thought...although we always save all year towards our tax bill. It's pretty much been the same amount (+/- 5 - 10%) for years, and this year we're on track to save twice that in a dedicated savings account, just in case...I am hoping whatever we'll have to pay extra for taking money out of IRAs will be offset by deducting interest on our mortgage for 9 months (we bought in March).
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Old 08-13-12, 12:40 PM   #17
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I use Turbo Tax Deluxe. It's usually on sale at Costco in January. I upgrade to the Premiere version if I've sold any investments because it downloads the information from the broker's websites and I don't have to input all of the data.
This. Turbotax could not make it any easier, especially if you do not have a complex tax situation. I've used it for years.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:40 PM   #18
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No divorce, just become mormon and add an extra wife. Once you explain to the current wife that you only want the new one for the extra money she brings in and her tax preparation ability and NOT the sex (which is just a formality you have to put up with), I'm sure she'll go for it.
well, okay, so long as they allow jet skis in Utah.
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Old 08-13-12, 04:16 PM   #19
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Marring a Tax Accountant is a big advantage once a year.
New spouse every year? Tax time, need to find a hot tax accountant and get married.
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Old 08-13-12, 04:50 PM   #20
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Yup I'm another that uses turbo tax.

I've owned 3 houses, some converting in and out of rentals, so between balancing those deductions with 401k contributions, and other things has always been well explained. I will not say its "easy" as I've had to read the tax law for some of the rental stuff so I knew what turbo tax was actually doing, but in the end it does a fine job.

I'd say the unless you have some REALLY weird stuff going on (which it sounds like you don't) just do turbo tax. I dont even buy the software anymore, I just do it online. E-file is really easy and most of the time I get my refund before April 15th
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Old 08-13-12, 04:53 PM   #21
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Pro, @$550 for everything. I'm a small business owner.
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Old 08-14-12, 11:17 AM   #22
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I have never regreted paying the tax guy to do our taxes. They are, or should be, experts at tax law. They will think of things that you don't know about, somethings sofware like Turbo Tax can't do. They can also give you tips for what to do for next year.
Go with a pro.
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Old 08-14-12, 11:23 AM   #23
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I always have a pro do it and she uses H&R Blocks software.

The cost isn't to bad, I have to cook most of the time and I would have to cook all the time if I got rid of her, but she does clean really well. Plus I think my son might start to miss his mother.

Marring a Tax Accountant is a big advantage once a year.
How long before it's damaged beyond repair?
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Old 08-14-12, 11:50 AM   #24
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Sign me up as another tax software (Currently H&R Block) user for the past couple of decades. Easy-peasy. I buy the basic version at Wally World for $ 15 early each year. Washington state has no state income tax.
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Old 08-14-12, 02:17 PM   #25
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Not really, we have dropped off old clothes at a textile recyclers booth at the local green market. No car. We did pay a bit here and there for electrical work and re-did our wood floors. Also put in new light fixtures in a couple of rooms. I think that's about it, though I guess the risk of DIY is we'll miss something. My sister is a tax attorney so I suppose I could pick her brain before doing the software route...
Save the receipts for any capital improvements you do to your home after you bought it. When you sell the place you should be able to add them to your tax basis for the house.
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