Pros, cons of popular tax prep methods - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pros, cons of popular tax prep methods

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WAVERLY (KWWL)-- Your mailbox is probably starting to fill up with W-2s and other forms you'll need to file your taxes this year.  There are certainly a lot of software programs and tax preparation services that claim to offer the best way to get the job done.  Below is a break-down of some of the benefits and draw backs to your tax filing options.

Brittany Gamelin is a first year tax preparer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.  And her schedule is starting to fill up these days.  Gamelin says the most common mistake people make is not bringing all the documents needed to file their taxes.

"Obviously your W2s.  If you paid money for tuition, your school will probably send you a 1098T.  If you receive money from Social Security, they send you something.  Any expenses you paid that you want to claim, bring information for that.  And any income you made from anywhere, bring in information for that," Gamelin said.

If you opt to file your taxes by yourself, you run the risk of missing something and could make some costly mistakes.

"The biggest risk in doing taxes yourself is just not knowing what credits you can claim, what the qualifications are for them," said Gamelin.

The costs for tax prep software programs and websites are wide-ranging.  Basic federal taxes can be prepared for free.  But state taxes are typically extra.  And the costs can rack up depending on what other services you may need, like itemizing deductions, claiming all the properties you own, and so on.  Taking your taxes to a professional is another option to consider.

"We can certainly here do the tax preparing for you.  We know the questions to ask you and the information to get to make sure we an get you all the credits you're entitled to," Gamelin said.

But no matter how you choose to do your taxes, there are a few key factors beyond cost to consider, including the speed and accuracy of getting the job done. 

If you choose a professional tax preparer, experts recommend you get a consultation first before hiring them to do the job.  The Better Business Bureau's website can also help you find accredited companies.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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