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Should I prepare my taxes myself?

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February 24, 2007

Albany - - The countdown to get your taxes into the federal government has begun, you still have over a month to do it. But with so many options out there to prepare your taxes, how do you know which is best for you?

Early birds have already done it - - prepared and filed their 2006 taxes. Some of you are still waiting to do it and you're faced with several options. One of them is doing it yourself with software you can buy.

"These sell pretty well during this season? Very well," says Circuit City Manager Carl James.

There are a variety of do it yourself options. The more you pay for the software the more advanced options you have, like a person over the phone who can help you.

"They are going to charge for those extra services. But it's an option where you go to a person if you hit a stumbling block."

James says even people with complicated tax returns can feel at ease.

"Some people want to do more detailed information regarding deductions so Turbo Tax has separate software for deduction maximzer."

The Software has the laws programmed into it and can tell you over the computer if you're doing things right.

But professionals who prepare tax returns say technology can't replace experience.

"We've even had a couple of individuals who come and said they tried it online, tried to transmit it, but a number of problems they've encountered," says Alfred Hoely of SOWEGA Tax Service.

He says going with a certified tax preparer can help you make sure you don't write off items you aren't eligible for.

"One of the things I hear constantly and I've heard throughout this tax season is I've made some repairs to my house, renovated my house or remodeled my house. I was told I could claim that on my taxes."

He says there are very specific guidelines for write-offs like this that you just may not know unless you've done heavy research. He also says guidelines from the IRS change every year.

"If they don't have the knowledge going in of what's available to them, what deductions they may be eligible for and those types of things they may miss out on some deductions that they could've taken."

The decision is up to you. Take the traditional route or try it on your own. 

Some financial experts say for people with routine tax returns where your financial activities stay the same every year, preparing your taxes on your own can be a plus. On the other hand, since tax laws change frequently, you may have to keep buying new software to make sure you have the latest versions.

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