Online & "Do-it-yourself" tax programs.

For tax year 2011 thru 2016, we have helped dozens if not hundreds of folks correct mistakes made on returns that were prepared with "Do-It-Yourself" programs. The mistakes range from simple omissions by the program to clients receiving notices from the IRS concerning their returns entailing thousands of dollars. The IRS has even initiated investigations into the accuracy of some of the software companies it had on its list of approved "Free" tax return software.


I am certain that you have all seen the commercials on TV advertising the "Do-It-Yourself", "Online" and even "Free" tax programs made by several different companies. It is our informed opinion that the claims made by these companies lack a certain amount of "completeness" in their advertising.

Consider these items before choosing to "Do it yourself."

  1. 1. Most of the "Do-It-Yourself" tax programs, and none of the "Online" programs, do not deal with any state, school, or local returns that need to be prepared. This means more time and expense to do the necessary additional forms, and you must carry over numbers from one to the other manually.
  2. The software companies advertise that the program will ask all the questions necessary to complete your return. The important points here are:
    1. Is the software capable of knowing if the answers you provide are complete, or if they are "unusual", and may trigger an audit?
    2. If you don't understand the questions completely, can you ask the software for clarification? Do you know exactly what the program is asking?
    3. If you have questions about the outcome of the return, is there a "live person" you can talk to for explanation?
    4. Can the software help you with the specific areas of speciality that apply to your home business? The software(s) treats all business the same, and therefore, items get excluded, or not handled properly, possibly causing you to miss important deductions.
    5. Can you be certain that the program knows all the questions that need to be asked for your particular and unique tax situation? Sales of stocks and bonds are a big area these programs are very prone to doing incorrectly.
  3. The software companies also advertise that all the "calculations" on the return are guaranteed to be accurate. From our perspective:
    1. For a program to "calculate" correctly is not anything more than using the simple abilities of your computer.
    2. The guarantee only applies to the calculations, not the correctness of the information used to make those calculations.
  4. The software companies do not/will not go with you to an audit, if your return is chosen for audit. This is a situation that will cause you much grief and expense, if you are audited and have "done it yourself."

At Tiernan & Associates we take care of all the items listed above when we prepare your income tax return. This means peace of mind knowing that our experienced and knowledgeable staff will do the very best job of preparing your tax return.

Last Modified: 11/28/2017