I don’t think anyone really enjoys filing taxes, but some people do like tax season because they get a refund. Therefore, it’s easy to just contract out your tax filings and enjoy the refund without any work involved. However, that period of refunds typically comes to a close once you start incurring large enough capital gains taxes on your investments. And then there’s no joy in tax season whatsoever. If you’re in the annual refund group, chances are that your tax situation isn’t that complicated. And this year may be a good time to start filing it yourself. If you’re in the ultra-complex tax return group, then it’s really time to file your own taxes!
Sure, a tax professional can do it all for you and probably not cost very much, but that’s not the point. Over the course of your life, maximizing tax breaks and incentives can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it’s not that HR Block knows the secret box to check on your returns to guarantee the highest refund—this is common knowledge. And software like TurboTax, which I’ve been using forever, makes it so easy a child could do it. Trust me, you will get every cent of refund promised to you by a professional.
Saving money or having the satisfaction of DIY isn’t the goal. The goal is to understand the system. A tax professional can only properly file the actions you already took, they can’t go back in time and change your money moves. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a working knowledge, if not an expert knowledge, of the tax implications of everyday decisions.
When you file your own taxes, you learn how the system works. And as your financial life gets more complicated, you continue to learn as your tax filings become more complex. It’s imperative to understand these rules, especially as you get older and have to balance various retirement accounts and Social Security. If you are a successful saver, many people end up having more income in retirement than they did while working—and if you aren’t smart about your taxes, you’ll also end up paying more than did while working. It’s important knowledge to have well before you need it.
As an added incentive to doing your own taxes, you can also score 1,000 Southwest miles on the purchase. Here’s the link. It’s not expensive and it’s not hard to do. There’s really no reason you should avoid it. You might even find it an enjoyable and satisfying task.