Tax Help

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ShortSnoutBrewing

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So, I thought I'd reach out to the kind folks of HBT for something other then brewing related issues.

SWMBO and I are interested in using a tax preperation service this year. We've moved, changed jobs a few times, purchased a house, and she still works for the same firm she did back in DC but is now working from home and considered an independant contractor and has been paing quartley taxes. So, no EZ form for us this year and we just simply don't want to screw it up.

So, who has used a tax service in the past? Did you use the big guys (HR Block, Jackson Hewlitt, etc) or go with a local service? Would you do it again? Why or Why not?

Thanks all.
 

blacklab

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KB - I am an accountant and I have someone else do my taxes. Honestly, unless you live taxes, you cannot possibly keep up with tax codes. It should be around $300 for a good local CPA to do your taxes. Don't go to the H&R Block types, find a local guy with a private practice. The big shops will not give you personal attention.

Now that you have made the jump to home ownership and have ind contractor income, you're going to need someone else to do your taxes.

You will most likely save the $300, and maybe more. And you will not have to deal with it AT ALL. A small price to pay...
 

kornkob

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I'd be leery of the big names in tax prep-- there are far too many horrible stories of the things they have boned up. Sounds to me you want to make sure you get a tax preparer that has expereince with home workers. Some of those home worker tax things are finiky.
 

McKBrew

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I haven't used on in years, but I'm not in the same situation. If you want it done right with piece of mind, tax preparers are the way to go. I've used HR Block, and thought they charged excessive amonts, but have never used a local service/individual so don't know if it's any better.

The online services/software like turbo tax, etc.. are a quite a bit cheaper, even paying for the premium ones and they have decent checks and balances built in so I think it would be pretty difficult to jack up even a more advanced return. Plus they offer the same audit defense services, etc... as the companies.
 

Fish

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I use a local guy he charges about $400 its for my business and our family expenses. We like him but he is slow. We go to him next week but we wont know what we owe/get back till April 15.
 

david_42

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Definitely find a local CPA specializing in tax law. There is no way anything online can cope with your situation. I used to work for Intuit (Quicken) and NEVER actually filed with the software. My CPA always beat their numbers.
 

Nurmey

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Get referrals from your friends/co-workers/family for a local guy. If they are happy with his service, chances are you will be too. I wouldn't trust the seasonal workers at any national tax chain.
 

TheJadedDog

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According to my wife, if your wife worked in DC for a partial part of this year you should definitely get professional help as DC is very complicated when you move in the middle of the year (as we did several years ago).

Personally I would recommend one of the larger firms; H&R Block is probably the most competitive for price.
 
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ShortSnoutBrewing

ShortSnoutBrewing

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TheJadedDog said:
According to my wife, if your wife worked in DC for a partial part of this year you should definitely get professional help as DC is very complicated when you move in the middle of the year (as we did several years ago).
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Well, we didn't pay DC taxes as we lived in VA. But moving anywhere mid year is always a bit tricky.

I'm getting a feeling it's a no on the big guys, and find a local. I like that. Only downside is everyone in my office is new to OR too (all moved up from CA last year) and the friends we already had living here all do their own, or have family do them.

We'll get it figured out. Thanks all for contributing.
:mug:
 

CodeRage

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Man I had a local CPA just absolutely screw me. $400 to file and he royally messed me up. Got auditted two years later for some shady stuff he did that I wasnt aware of. IRS is out looking for that guy now...
So I just deal with turbo tax now. Works good, online is only $35 with free e-file and got back a respectable return. I also dont claim anything other than the house, the kid, and property tax. Take the standard deduction for everything else.
 

EvilTOJ

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Hey Kilted Brewer, I do my own taxes but I'll ask around to my circle of friends and see if anyone recommends a good local CPA for ya.
 

budbo

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So, who has used a tax service in the past? Did you use the big guys (HR Block, Jackson Hewlitt, etc) or go with a local service? Would you do it again? Why or Why not?
My Dad was a CPA and did mine for years, I went to tax software after he died.. my current accountant refiled 3 years back and found me $2,700 in deductions that turbo tax missed.

If you have anything unusual (like the move) odds are an accountant is going to get you more than the software expecially if your wife is an independant contractor business expenses you can write off will suprise you and the software doesn't tell you about many of them.
 

Logan

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I'm glad I work part time, single, and don't own anything.

Tax season is my favorite time of the year - its like 2nd Christmas.
 
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ShortSnoutBrewing

ShortSnoutBrewing

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EvilTOJ said:
Hey Kilted Brewer, I do my own taxes but I'll ask around to my circle of friends and see if anyone recommends a good local CPA for ya.
That would be great. Thanks!
 

brewt00l

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IMHO getting your taxes done to your satisfaction is more about communication than most anything. That communication is the responsibility of both parties...you and the CPA, H&R Block person or software. This of course assumes we are talking about a basically competent tax preparer.

Until the day comes that software/computers can read your mind, using turbotax style programs is a crap shoot for anyone with a moderately complex tax profile.
 

the_bird

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H&R Block trains people over a couple of months to prepare basic tax returns. Now, you can't make a blanket statement to "go see a local CPA," because some are good, some are bad - but you're more likely to find someone who has been doing this for years and years and years and really understands the tax code.

Besides, when H&R Block sets up shop in the freakin' lingerie section of the local Wal-Mart.......... well, it's kinda hard to take them seriously. :D
 

brauhaus

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the_bird said:
H&R Block trains people over a couple of months to prepare basic tax returns. Now, you can't make a blanket statement to "go see a local CPA," because some are good, some are bad - but you're more likely to find someone who has been doing this for years and years and years and really understands the tax code.

Besides, when H&R Block sets up shop in the freakin' lingerie section of the local Wal-Mart.......... well, it's kinda hard to take them seriously. :D
my family is very hung up on tradition and they've used the same CPA for over 15 years... i'd like to stick with him, but since we've moved I don't know where to turn either...

i'm going to hit up some local CPA to get some ideas.
 

brewt00l

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I have never personally dealt with H&R Block or any of those shops...I have seen their end product numerous times and I can tell you that 9 out of 10, they miss plenty of deductions because they fail to ask the basic questions that would clue them in on their existence.

Course it always seems they are working on a volume principal more than comprehensive prep.
 

Bobby_M

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That's why I like software. They've built in all the questions that will find most deductions. Sure, there will be times when a CPA will know a few tricks, some loopholes, etc. ;things that you can push through without raising any flags. Just for kicks, I ran my parents return through after they already had it completed by their CPA last year and the numbers were within 1%. However, after dropping the $250 fee, they actually lost $200 in the deal.

The pros use software too and the worst part is you still have to sit there and convey the same information to them that you'd be putting directly into the software anyway.
 

brewt00l

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Bobby_M said:
That's why I like software. They've built in all the questions that will find most deductions. Sure, there will be times when a CPA will know a few tricks, some loopholes, etc. ;things that you can push through without raising any flags. Just for kicks, I ran my parents return through after they already had it completed by their CPA last year and the numbers were within 1%. However, after dropping the $250 fee, they actually lost $200 in the deal.

The pros use software too and the worst part is you still have to sit there and convey the same information to them that you'd be putting directly into the software anyway.

Did you stay at a holiday inn too? :)

The software is great if you have a fairly straight forward return or understand the tax code...I generally amend at least a handful of self prepared turbotax returns each year in addition to the H&R Blockheads.

Edit: YMMV
 

Joker

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Everytime I have moved mid year I have gotten the dreaded "you did something wrong" letter from the IRS. Once they sent me a letter saying I owed $200 but just to be sure I took my taxes to a tax service. When I got it back they said the IRS was correct I did my taxes wrong however they owe me $400 not me owing them. I told the guy if he signs it I will, got my money about 2 months later.
 

kornkob

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brewt00l said:
Did you stay at a holiday inn too? :)

The software is great if you have a fairly straight forward return or understand the tax code...I generally amend at least a handful of self prepared turbotax returns each year in addition to the H&R Blockheads.

Edit: YMMV
Every time I've paid someone to do my taxes I've also done them via one of the electronic services. Every time the tax preparer saved me money.

Just saying (YMMV).
 

RadicalEd

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If you have the opportunity to do the EZ or have a relatively similar tax situation, my experience is that a software package will do just as well, if not better, than the national chains. After all, those chains are essentially training their workers to sit down in front of the same exact online software and fill it out for you. And then tack on a heavy premium.

But if you have tricky things like multiple state employment, get ye a CPA. Work buddies are often a good source for recommendations. Personalized attention might not help on the EZ, but it sure as heck will when navigating inter-state tax law. My old man absolutely swears by his CPA after a few years of software and a mid-year move.
 

nevercominhome

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Not an endorsement but I (we) used Turbo Tax Deluxe this year and can't hardly wait to do it again next year! Very simple and easy to use. And we got a pretty good return. Enough I hope to use to buy equipment!

Damned IRS!!!
 

GlassblowersBrew

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Definitely go local. Ive dealt with both and the big guys make you feel like your situation is being processed. If you feel that way with the local guy, move onto someone else. You can get some great help from a local person if you just get to know them and they get to know you.
 

joejaz

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I use Tax-Cut by H & R Block ( formely by Kipplinger)software, have been using it for over five years. One year when I was out of work, I decided to daytrade. Traded over 600,000 shares in a 3 month period. My tax return was over 100 pages with wash sales, long and short positions, long and short term capital gains. I am not an accountant. Without the software, I would still be trying to figure it out. The software prompts you for all situations and allows you to import information. You fill in the blanks, basically what a tax service will do ( they will ask you for all your information and if you forget to bring something they may not bring it up). For $30 to $60 it's well worth it. I do my taxes, my kids, my mothers and my brother. As far as what software to use, I imagine they are all comparable. I started with Tax-Cut and that's what I'm comfortable with.
 
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