The One Thing We Didn’t DIY This Year

This spring marked a first for me: It was the first time I paid someone to do my taxes.

For a died-in-the-wool DIY-er who makes her own bread, bodywash, pizza sauce and salad dressing, who takes it upon herself to fix a broken window, mend her own clothes, and even try to grow her own food, well, it should be obvious that I like to be able to do things on my own.

There’s some satisfaction in being able to say “I made that” or “I did that,” to know how something works well enough to do it yourself. There’s a sense of self-reliance and independence in taking up hammer or rolling pin or trowel and go at it yourself, wearing the smudges of ensuing dirt and flour and paint like badges.

But every year when it rolls around to April 15th, I find myself stuck and stalled by one thing that I haven’t yet managed to conquer on my own: taxes. As someone who works from home, there are a myriad of tax-benefits available to me and that right there is what takes something that can be a simple fill-in-the-blank sort of scenario into one that, in our household, turns into hours spent typing in numbers, looking up definitions, rifling through receipts and piling up papers.

We’ve tried the DIY approach to doing our taxes, buying different levels of the tax software that’s out there, from the free stuff to the $100-a-pop professional edition. They all end up with the same result: utter frustration.

Last year, we even pretty much gave up on trying to take any deduction or write-off other than the standard deduction.  We knew there were lots of ways we could trim our bill down (because we did end up owing quite a bit), but we simply didn’t know what to do with it all. So, in defeat, we threw our hands up to the whole process and just stopped trying to sort it out, which only absolved some of the stress.

This year, though, we decided, kind of as a last-ditch effort to save our sanity, we hired a CPA to do our taxes. It was a woman recommended by one of my husband’s coworkers. I spent a few days ahead of time—in mid-February—preparing all our receipts and expenses and income and bills, typing them tidily into Excel spreadsheets.

We went into the meeting and within an hour had tackled what would have taken us an entire weekend spent trying not to be short with one another, trying not to get irritated with the system, trying not to hate every single second of it.

Instead, we walked out of there without any of the aggravation and a sense of relief that someone who knew what they were doing was able to walk us through the over-our-head process. For the peace of mind, I considered it a wise use of money. And, we got back a nice return, to boot, so there was nothing to complain about!

Sometimes even for the most ardent of DIY-ers, there's a time to call in the pros. For me, I have decided that tax time is the right time for us to do just that!

Tomorrow’s the last day to submit your taxes. How was the process for you?

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  1. We're in a similar position with our taxes. It's one thing to be frugal and enjoy DIY, but it's another to let those things blind you into believing that frugality and DIY is always better. Sometimes you really do need to call in a professional even if it costs a little extra. We justify the money we spend on have our taxes done each year with the fact that we get back SO MUCH more money than we ever would have if we did it ourselves. Tax law is complicated and I'm more than willing to let someone else do it if it means it will be done right.

  2. So far, we've been fine with doing our own taxes. Not to say it isn't frustrating or tedious, but for our current situation we feel it is wiser to spend $22 on Turbo Tax each year (using our AAA discount) than pay a CPA. I'm sure that could change in the future and we would certainly be open to that idea.

  3. Ditto. A professional tax preparation pays for itself. Maybe I am paranoid, but I always "trust but verify".

  4. My hubby and I have DIYed our taxes for the last 5 years! We use TurboTax, it's pretty easy and walks you through step-by-step, but it still gets frustrating. I think it's much easier when you receive a w-2, but neither one of us have jobs outside the home.

    We've managed so far; I guess what is best for you depends on your situation and how you make money.

  5. Glad to see everyone's on the ball with getting your taxes done. Whether you DIY them or hire someone to, doesn't it just feel good to be done with them for another year?!

  6. Money has always been tight for us. We try to do as much of everything ourselves as we possibly can, cook from scratch, garden, home repairs, car repairs, or just doing without. The one thing we've always had someone else do is our taxes. Our CPA knows all the current tax laws-which change every year- and always helps us find deductions we didn't even know about. It's expensive, but I think we still make out better in the long run.


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