Should You Do Your Own Taxes?

While it might be true, as Benjamin Franklin once famously said, that “in this world, nothing can be certain except death and taxes,” what is not so clear is how you should file your annual tax return.

So, should you do your own taxes?

There are many options for completing and filing your own return – including  free software (for anyone making $62,000 or less per year) and free in-person tax preparation help in most of the U.S. for those making $54,000 or less annually. But still, a majority of taxpayers (about 60 percent) who file electronically have their returns prepared by a professional rather than doing it themselves.

Several of the people we met in Madison said that they fear making mistakes on their tax returns, and would rather pay someone else to prepare their tax returns to save the stress of a potential audit. Others mentioned special circumstances — such as being self-employed or operating a side business — that make their tax returns complicated enough to warrant professional tax help.

If you should decide to do your taxes yourself, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website ( provides a lot of information to help you, including criteria for:

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[Stock media provided by AgePincher/]