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A Taxing Situation

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Category: 2003 Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Mike Berman
Dave Berman

There's a five-letter word that sends shivers down my spine every year at this time - - - A-U-D-I-T.

Now, obviously Dumbfounded Dave hasn't given that much thought, 'cause he would've thought twice before he and his blow-up spouse did their own taxes.

Of course it's cheaper to do it yourself, but what if the Feds catch you in a whopping mistake (say, a few misplaced commas). Who's gonna appear in your defense? Blow-up Charlene? I think not!

Unless you have a very simple return, working with very few numbers, doing it yourself could result in hazardous - - - and costly - - - penalties.

Those of us with a myriad of expenses and so-called business deductions could often find ourselves giving more money than we should to Uncle Sam, simply because we really don't know how much to deduct.

Also, most accountants have the ability to file your taxes electronically for you, so you'll still get that refund in 8 to 16 days.

I do agree that relying on rip-off companies such as H&R Block and others that advertise heavilly at this time of year is a bad move. But having a decent CPA file your taxes is worth the $150 or $200.

By the way, don't fall for the Instant Refund scam these companies are promoting. The word is that interest charges on that cash advance gives usery a bad name, sometimes exceeding 60%.

Don't let a super ego or the illusion that you're saving money influence your decision at tax time. Fear the A-U-D-I-T! Don't do it yourself unless you're just submitting a W-2 and taking the standard deductions.

The wife and I do our taxes nightly. I know what you're thinking. This is a real trick... especially since I don't have a wife.

But with an air pump, magic markers and an imagination, anything's possible.

I know Mike has done his taxes at least three times in the past, but I don't like thinking about that and you shouldn't either.

With that out of sight and mind, this week's Berman vs. Berman is about TAXES!

I just did mine and its never been easier. I used the online service at http://www.taxact.com. It's a free service if you don't file them electronically. If you do, it costs $7.95 for state and $7.95 for fed. Not too shabby especially since my previous accountant charged me over 150 bucks last year.

No software to download. All you need is a browser, an internet connection and a little bit of time.

I've never done my taxes prior to this and it only took me 45 minutes to do and another 15 minutes to verify. None of this minute man stuff. Best yet after filing them electonrically, I'll get my return within 8-16 days. Now that's service!

There are other options out there. TurboTax is a popular one and if I'm not mistaken, the software costs around 30 bucks. It requires you install it on your PC and upgrade every year.

You can also go to H&R Block and get ripped off. They charge upwards of $400 to do their patented advanced returns. It's just a fancy word for a loan and if you're stupid enough to be one of their customers, can I have $400 to kick you in the pants?

With the money I get back as well as the money I save from not having to deal with an accountant, I can buy one of those automatic air pumps with a pressure sensitive shutoff valve and optional foot pedals.

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