If your return is very simple, you might be able to successfully do it yourself. However, if you own a home or have received substantial income from investments, your income tax return might not be optimal if you are unaware of deductions or tax credits. Rental properties or other business interests can further complicate your return.
Most people who file their own return spend approximately 22 hours to complete it. This includes time spent reading the rules and gathering pertinent information. E-filers can input the data and automatically generate an amount of tax owed or tax to be refunded. However, missing a single deduction or credit can be costly.
The IRS staffs information lines during tax season but the telephone queue is long and most people never get a chance to talk to a human being when they call. There are family and friends who are frequently willing to help you file your taxes but they may not be the most knowledgeable people when it comes to your particular situation. Volunteers are available to assist you in libraries and other government buildings but you generally must make an appointment during limited hours.
If you file your tax return on your own and you make a mistake, you will have to defend yourself without help. This can be intimidating to say the least. When preparing your return, make sure that you retain all records to support any deductions or credits that you have taken.
Business returns are very involved and can include complex depreciation schedules. Green initiatives often can give you a break on your taxes if you know about them. In other words, filing your own taxes can be very time consuming and labor intensive. It is not always the best choice.