Tax Return Preparation: Do It Yourself or Not?

Wells Fargo Offers Tips on How to Decide

SAN FRANCISCO - February 22, 2010

To save money in a tight economy, more people than ever are expected to file their own tax returns this year, bypassing CPAs and professional preparers. When can you complete your own tax return and when should you turn to a professional? Today, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) released the checklist below to help consumers decide. And it doesn’t matter which method you use, your chances of audit are still the same: 1 in 100, according to the IRS.

100% Do-It-Yourself
The IRS and most states allow you to file your income taxes online. It provides all of the forms and software for your convenience, and it’s free. All the federal forms are available at

Consider preparing your tax return yourself if:

  • You have the time to find the forms and websites
  • Your tax return is easy and straightforward with no need to itemize
  • You rent your home and have no children
  • You are single, with one or two regular jobs paying a W2 income or married filing jointly and each partner has a W2 income.

Do-It-Yourself +
Commercial software programs will guide you through the maze of deductions and options to minimize your tax liability, provide support for audits, and have a tax preparer professional review your return. While they do charge for this, the fee is typically less than having an accountant or CPA prepare your return.

Consider using a commercial software program if you:

  • Have plenty of time to complete your return
  • Itemize your deductions
  • Own your own home
  • Have children living with you, living with a spouse, or living away at college
  • Receive 1099s for miscellaneous income or partnership K1s
  • Have capital gains or losses from stock or mutual fund trading
  • Have partnership and trust income
  • Have income from multiple sources and states
  • Have a home office
  • Are self employed
  • Made significant charitable donations

Calling in the Cavalry
Professional tax preparers, CPAs, and advisors will complete your return while giving you advice drawn from their training and experience. They will likely find more deductions than you would on your own, and will help if you are audited.

Consider consulting a professional if you don’t want the bother of preparing the returns yourself or if your tax situation is more complex than the above – for example, if you:

  • Own a small business and have depreciation
  • Are worried about audits
  • Are married but file taxes separately
  • Receive bonuses and stock options
  • Have experienced major life changes
  • Are eligible for the first time homeowners tax credit
  • Have international income
  • Have a lot of assets
  • Own rental property(ies)

Regardless of how you decide to file, remember the deadline always approaches fast!

For more information visit Wells Fargo’s Tax Resource Center at:

Disclaimer: This is just a general guideline and does not constitute tax advice; your situation may vary. When in doubt, ask your tax professional.

About Wells Fargo Online & Mobile Banking

Wells Fargo is a leading provider of online and mobile financial services for individual consumers, small and middle market businesses, and large corporations with a full range of banking, money movement, investing, asset management, and other financial and risk management products. Wells Fargo launched its personal computer banking service in 1989 and was the first bank to offer Internet banking through in May 1995. Wells Fargo has been named the No. 1 Consumer Internet Bank in North America by Global Finance magazine (November 2009), earned an “A” grade from ABI Research for Wells Fargo Mobile. ABI evaluated and graded mobile banking offerings from 29 U.S. banks in four categories — reach, breadth of services offered, security, and discoverability of mobile banking services and consumer information. (September 2009); ranked the No. 1 website out of 68 leading U.S. corporations' websites for technology innovation by the Brookings Institution (July 2009) and was awarded two Monarch Innovation Awards by Barlow Research for online services for small business, including Foreign Exchange Online and My Spending Report with Budget Watch (February 2009).

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $1.2 trillion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 10,000 stores and 12,000 ATMs and the internet ( across North America and internationally.