Last year, knee deep in my financial ruin, and nothing in an extremely tight budget that said, “TAX PREPARATION,” I was at a loss as to how these mysterious documents called tax returns were going to be filed.
I had never, in my entire adult life, done my own taxes. Even with simple income, I had always paid someone to take care of it.
As the years went on and I acquired a small business called L.A. Lyon and properties with mortgages, it got more complicated. I finally ended up at an expensive accountant. I always got a fairly nice return, so although I was dishing out a good portion of it to someone who basically made me get everything ready and appeared to spend about thirty minutes doing actual work, I didn’t really think there was a better way. Besides, there must be some magic he was working to get me those great returns, right? That’s why he was making the big bucks!
As my finances crumbled I took money out of my 401K to keep up with some bills. Every financial article and advisor tells you never to do this and here is why. When I sat down with my pricey accountant, he did his usual thing and suddenly, instead of a nice little chunk of change to pay him and try to keep my little financial Titanic floating one more year, he handed me a tax return that said I owed the IRS ten thousand dollars. Suddenly paying him a huge fee made me want to throw up in the parking lot in front of his Mercedes Benz.
So last year, with no hope of any return going into my checking account, (still working on that ten thousand dollar debt) and no real budget for any hired help, I was contemplating how I would look in orange serving time for tax evasion. Explaining my dire situation to a friend, looking for sympathy, she
instead looked at me and said, “Why don’t you do them yourself?”
“Huh? I can’t do that. Mine are complicated.”
“Sure you can,” she said. “There are all kinds of programs out there. Didn’t you have to get everything ready for your accountant any way? Receipts, interest, all that stuff?”
“Well, yes I did.”
“And then you went in his office and he asked you personal questions and filled in something on the computer?”
“And then the computer spit out your tax returns?”
“So buy some software, it's not very expensive, sit behind the computer and answer the questions yourself.”
Having nothing to lose, I gave it a shot. And guess what? It wasn’t that hard! Plus, without 401 K withdrawals, I got a nice return to apply to my tax debt. The same amount my fancy accountant had gotten me a couple of years before!
Taxes are not magic. Very few things in life are. We get it in our heads that there are only certain people on the earth who are blessed with a gift that we don’t have. How many times do we say every day, “I am not technical. I am not creative. I am not musical. I could never……”
Not everyone has the same aptitude for everything, but everyone is born human and we are all capable of amazing things. Taxes? Anything you really need or want