Most tax professionals are awesome, reliable, knowledgeable people. But as with many professions, there's always potential for running into a less than ethical "expert." The IRS routinely investigates people who profess to be pros (certified public accountants, enrolled agents, tax attorneys) but who really aren't. They falsify deductions, income or dependents in an effort to produce a larger refund for their clients and alter documents, among other offenses.
And apart from that, sharing your financial information with anyone, for any reason, carries some inherent risks. Even the most ethical, conscientious preparer can fall victim to a hack or break-in.
That's another reason why some of us prefer to handle tax returns on our own. It's possible that you could wind up making a tiny error or two, but my guess is you're not likely to try to embezzle your own money. So if you're the type who prefers to avoid potential drama, it might be best to file your tax returns from the comfort of your own computer, where you can keep your own eyes on your own money.
Just be sure it's a secure WiFi connection, or else it defeats the purpose, OK?
Author's Note: 5 Advantages to Doing Your Own Taxes
The first time I filed my own taxes I felt simultaneously terrified and liberated ... which was quickly followed by an elated shopping spree with my refund money. Cha-ching!
- Botkin, Kira. "What's the Best Online Tax Preparation Software? TaxACT vs TurboTax vs H&R Block." MoneyCrashers. March 31, 2014. (Dec. 11, 2014) http://www.moneycrashers.com/taxact-vs-turbotax-vs-hr-block-best-tax-prep-software/
- Fidelity. "What is an IRA?" 2014 (Dec. 11, 2014) https://www.fidelity.com/retirement-planning/learn-about-iras/what-is-an-ira
- IRS. "Make a Complaint About a Tax Return Preparer." 2014 (Dec. 11, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Make-a-Complaint-About-a-Tax-Return-Preparer
- IRS. "More Taxpayers Filing From Home Computers in 2014; Many Taxpayers Eligible to Use Free File." March 13, 2014 (Dec. 10, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/More-Taxpayers-Filing-from-Home-Computers-in-2014--Many-Taxpayers-Eligible-to-Use-Free-File
- Money Crashers. "The Pros and Cons of Preparing Your Own Taxes." U.S. News & World Report. Feb. 16, 2012 (Dec. 10, 2014) http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2012/02/16/the-pros-and-cons-of-filing-your-own-taxes
- Religion News Service. "Tale of Jesus' Birth..." L.A. Times. Dec. 24, 1994 (Dec. 10, 2014) http://articles.latimes.com/1994-12-24/local/me-12520_1_social-climate
- Rickard, Al. National Society of Accountants. Interview via e-mail. Dec. 11, 2014.
- Rosen, Elizabeth. "Tax Preparation Costs and Fees." U.S. Tax Center. March 14, 2014 (Dec. 10, 2014) http://www.irs.com/articles/tax-preparation-costs-and-fees
The most sweeping tax overhaul in decades became law in December 2017. HowStuffWorks explains what taxpayers can do to benefit from the tax changes.