Why I’m Glad I Started Doing My Own Taxes

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This post is part of the TaxAct #DIYtaxes blog tour which empowers you to take ownership of your finances by doing your own taxes. TaxAct provides the tools and guidance to help you confidently file your taxes easy and fast. Do your own taxes today at TaxAct.comYou got this. 

I was having a discussion with my youngest brother a few weeks ago. To give a bit of background he’s never prepared his own taxes. Prior to our father passing away he always had our Dad’s CPA do his taxes.

A bit concerned over the idea of doing his taxes on his own, he asked me where to begin. If you’re like my brother and are new to doing your own taxes or have been putting it off but are ready to take over the reins of preparing your taxes, here are three reasons why I’m glad I did my own taxes for many years and why you can too.

It Saves Money When you do your own taxes


Saving money was the #1 reason I started doing my own taxes so many years ago. We have a CPA now because our business has grown in size and complexity beyond the point of our own ability to do our taxes on our own, but in most instances you can do your own taxes and often for significantly cheaper than paying someone to do it for you.

It may not seem like much, but the National Society of Accountants reports that the average cost to have a 1040 prepared (with no itemizations) was $159 in 2014. If you itemize and throw in a state return it bumps up to $273, and if you run a business it was $447. There’s no reason to spend that much to get your taxes done, especially with so many online platforms in the space.

TaxAct, for example, charges a maximum of $29.99 (and in some cases is free!) so you’ll easily save over $100 by going that route. Since you’ll already be gathering all the documents, all you need to do is enter them into the program and it’ll do most of the rest of the work for you.

It Helps You Know Your Money


A funny thing happens when you start looking at your W-2’s, 1099’s from your online brokerage accounts, etc.; you get to take a look at just how good, or bad, you’ve been at managing your money throughout the year. That can be a huge eye opener.

When I first started actively saving for retirement, doing my taxes helped me see where I was leaving money on the table. When we started a family, it helped us see what financial impact an extra mouth would have on our home. I’m sure there are many other experiences – all of which helped us manage our money a little bit better to enable us hit our financial goals.

Anyone Can Do it


I mentioned this earlier; in full disclosure we’ve had someone do our taxes the past three years due to the growth of our business. Our taxes got to the point where I was no longer comfortable or confident that I was catching tax saving opportunities. Hiring it out helps us maximize our return, catch overlooked tax deductions and relieves me of stress.

That being said, in nearly every instance it’s possible to prepare your own taxes. There may be an overwhelming aspect if you’ve never done your own taxes but that quickly fades fairly soon into the process. You may feel like it’s impossible to do or that you’ll mess something up.

Thankfully, both cases are wrong. Most tax software platforms available today walk you right through the process; you simply answer questions and the program does the rest for you, providing you a certain peace of mind. Many programs, like TaxACT, provide a robust Q&A section, as well as audit support, so you don’t have to worry about messing something up. Not only will learn something new, you’ll also save some cash in the process – you can’t beat that.

Beating the tax deadline doesn’t have to be stressful. With TaxAct, everything you need to confidently prepare and e-file your taxes is right at your fingertips. You got this. File your simple federal and state return FREE today with TaxAct

Think doing taxes yourself is too hard? Think again! 3 benefits of doing your own taxes - check all the tips, especially #3!


Do you prepare your own taxes, or do you hire them out? What are some other benefits to doing your own taxes? Have you prepared your taxes yet?

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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  • Ramona says:

    Nope, not anyone can do it, at least not in my country. We need an accountant to do our taxes. Which is not that bad, since I’m famously bad with calculations 😀

    But, if you are allowed to do your taxes in your country, do it. You’ll learn a lot and save money doing it.

  • Aaron says:

    Hi John. Thanks for the post. I think for a large percentage of Americans, this advice is true. Most people’s tax situations are not very complex and are predictable.

    Yet, there are some instances this isn’t the case. Ours are pretty complex with a lot of moving parts. I tried an online software program just to get an idea of what we were going to pay before headed to our tax pro.

    When it was all said and done, the tax software had us $3k higher than our professional.

    In some cases, the software just cannot pick up the nuances.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Hey Aaron! Completely agreed. I think in 80 – 90% of the time most can do taxes on their own. If all they have is W-2 income & maybe a handful of 1099s then they can do it on their own.

      That being said, I did tax prep for a year as a way to make extra money and was surprised at how many would come in that had very simple returns but they paid more to get them done by me.

      Ouch! Yea, we moved to a CPA 3-4 years ago because we just started having too many moving parts that I wasn’t comfortable doing them on my own. I’m more than willing to pay someone to advise us so we can put ourselves in the best situation possible. If “you’re” close to that then you should likely hire it out.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I use a tax software and it forces me to have all my ducks in a row before I actually sit down to enter my information. I think some people may need a little extra help, but most people will be just fine using a tax software.

  • Michael says:

    I have been doing my own taxes for over 15+ years now. I have always used TurboTax, it works, I am familiar, and hence I have stayed with it.

    Pretty much most popular tax software these days have so many checks and balances – all you gotta do is answer the questions truthfully and enter your information, it will take care of the rest.

    When you file your taxes, you learn a lot of useful information.

    Using that knowledge, you can get better at tax planning for the following year – you could be taking actions like increasing your 401k contributions, starting / contributing to a Traditional or Roth IRA etc. to lower your tax bill.

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