The Cost & Benefit of Filing Your Taxes Online versus by a Professional

The Cost & Benefit of Filing Your Taxes Online versus by a Professional
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“Cause it’s too complicated for me”

86-year-old Carthage resident William Allison has gone to a tax preparer the last couple of years.

“Quite a bit of things to do on my income tax. It’s not simple,” says Allison.

But it hasn’t been simple for some going the online route either.

For the last few days all state tax returns have been shut down through TurboTax, a popular online tax service, due to fraud concerns. But the service was restored by Friday evening.

(phone rings)

“Liberty Tax Service this is Deb how may I help you?”

Liberty Tax Service in Joplin has had several confused callers in wake of the recent scam threat.

“We have people calling because they don’t understand why it won’t go through. And I don’t use TurboTax. I’ve always had a professional company do it. But you need to be sure that your states are being filed correctly and a lot of people don’t understand that if you live in one state and work in another state, you have to file in both states if they took taxes out,” says Tax Preparer Debra Nash.

Nash says two out of three of her customers have to file their taxes in more than one state, making online services difficult to navigate and expensive.

Using the website, TurboTax charges around $36.99 for every state, which can quickly add up.

One tip, consider buying the desktop program to get the first state free. But heads up, it can quickly go out of date as laws change. Regardless, experts say for simple returns it may be cheaper and more convenient than seeking a professional.

Nash says her average customer pays around $200-$400 a year, but points out a professional could find extra money.

“I have a lot of customers that come in here that try to do online and either A: couldn’t get it to go through or B: when they came in to quote check their numbers, which they don’t tell us…our tax return may be a thousand dollars difference that they get back more,” says Nash.