Where to Go for Help
From top books, sites and software to picking a pro
(MONEY Magazine) – What Kind of Filer are You?
Your wages are less than $100,000, you claim few adjustments or credits, and you take the standard deduction.
Best option pencil
WHY: You can file a 1040EZ or a 1040A, so it's okay to do your taxes by hand.
WHAT YOU NEED: Forms and a calculator. If you did your taxes on paper last year, you should get forms in the mail. If you don't, download them at irs.gov.
You own your own home, have kids in college, have taxable stocks or funds and itemize deductions.
Best option software
WHY: To fill out even complicated forms, all you do is answer simple questions. The software will check that you don't miss any deductions and will calculate AMT.
WHAT YOU NEED: Software or Web access. Intuit's TurboTax (turbotax.com) and H&R Block's TaxCut (taxcut.com) are similar and more than adequate for the vast majority of filers. Both come in software and online versions of varying complexity, for both federal and state returns. Go for at least TurboTax Premier ($29.95) or TaxCut Deluxe ($24.95). Plus, this year the IRS has greatly expanded free e-filing. Visit irs.gov to see if theavailable software suits your needs. The program is geared toward simple returns.
You own investment real estate or a partnership. Or you simply don't want the hassle of doing your taxes.
Best option pro
WHY: You'll get advice on filing and tax planning—and someone on your side if you're ever audited.
WHAT YOU NEED: Referrals, and answers to the following four questions.
Are you a C.P.A.? Tax preparers don't have to be C.P.A.s. If you have tricky taxes, you're generally better off with one. Are your clients like me? You want a pro with experience doing your type of return regularly.
What percent of your returns are audited? If it's more than 1% to 2%, be wary. How much will it cost? Tax pros charge by the hour, by the form or by a flat fee. Fees vary by region, but expect to pay at least $150 for a simple return and $500 for a complex one.