HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - I've often wondered if I was doing taxes correctly and if an accountant could get a bigger refund. This year I went head to head, comparing my work on Turbo Tax to a professional accountant. We will be itemizing a federal return for a dual income couple, with a mortgage and two children.
I start with Turbo Tax. I'm not the quickest on a keyboard but it's pretty simple to get through. The questions are clear and I'm able to answer everything it asks. The Turbo Tax Deluxe Edition costs $49.95 to file both federal and state. It takes a while to get through, but I'm able to complete it.
So I take my paperwork to Hopewell Accountant Doreen Creel-Wood. She's been crunching numbers professionally for 18 years. She can prepare your federal and state returns for $65. Her fingers move much quicker than mine and before I know it, she's done.
"The average person's returns are not complicated," said Doreen.
But she's found a flaw in my work and it's one of the more common mistakes.
"That's a more mild mistake than others," she said.
I've deducted medical premiums that come out pretax, a "no-no" in the eyes of the IRS. So I go back to Turbo Tax to fix the error. Turbo Tax made no mention of the specific details I needed to know.
"If you don't know what you're doing Turbo Tax can get you in a lot of trouble," Doreen said.
So here's how it breaks down, the Turbo Tax refund is $3,792, the accountant's total is $3762. Turbo Tax costs about $52 with tax, the accountant was $65, both will cover state and federal returns. Turbo Tax is going to save $43, but it you have to consider what your time is worth. It took me 3 and half hours to finish, it took Doreen 30 minutes.
Plus, an accountant can give advice on savings for next year's taxes. Not to mention, she caught a mistake that could have resulted in an audit.
"You cannot put a price on peace of mind," Doreen said.