So…why did Barbara and I see our accountant this afternoon, when all we had to do was routine income tax preparation? Several friends and students have asked me why I don’t just do my own tax prep? After all, I’m a math teacher, so I would surely do it correctly with the aid of TurboTax, they say.
Well, perhaps. Yes, it does cost less to pay to file a return myself than to pay an accountant to do it for us. But there are reasons why we see her every year for this purpose:
- In general, I trust professionals. Amateurs make bad decisions. (Donald Trump, anyone? Ben Carson?) Professions have lots of education and training to get to where they are today. That’s why they’re professionals.
- In particular, an accountant knows what questions to ask…and what answers to give in borderline situations. And an accountant can give advice on matters like Roth IRA’s, social security, and retirement options.
- It’s not this straightforward every year. Sometimes we have Schedule C income, or questionable deductions, or deductions we weren’t even aware of. Those could save more than the difference between paying the accountant and buying the TurboTax software.
- Finally, time is money. Preparing one’s own taxes carefully and correctly is a very time-consuming endeavor. At this point I would rather have the time than save a couple of hundred dollars.