Before investing in a computer program for tax preparation or planning, consider the cost of the program and the amount of time it takes to learn and use, compared to the time and money involved in doing your taxes yourself or using a professional service. Doing the job by computer gives you control, flexibility and a better sense of your own tax scenario. But even the best program is no substitute for professional advice when it comes to strategic planning and an understanding of your situation and the vagaries of the tax law.
There are a number of options to consider. One is to use a program to prepare your taxes and, if you feel you need advice, have a professional review your work.
Another option is to use your computer for record keeping to provide summary information for your tax preparer. Almost any good spread sheet or database management program can be used for this purpose, as can personal finance programs such as Dollars and Sense and Managing Your Money.
Just be sure that each expense and income item includes the amount of money, the source or vendor and the appropriate category. Before you meet with your tax preparer, use your spread sheet or database program to sort and add up your records by category. Bring the work sheet to your tax interview and be prepared to provide the professional with summary information and any requested detail.