There is always a lot of buzz at this time of year regarding getting your taxes filed on time. Should I try to do it myself? Should a buy a do-it-yourself tax program? Should I hire someone to do it for me?

Someone recently asked me where they could get the forms to do their return. I had to think for a moment about that as I know that it’s possible however the government in their goal to reduce paper burden has tried to print less paper. Of course, you can get the forms at the post office (I noticed a stack of them the last time I went there to change an address). I also noticed at the post office an offer of “free” software to do your return and Netfile it with the government. If you only have one return to do then indeed it is free but charges will apply to do additional returns. I have to admit that even I would have difficulty doing a tax return manually. The opportunity to make errors between the interrelated forms is huge. If you think you need to look at forms for explanations then do it on the CRA website. Otherwise I would move to the next method.

There are lots of tax programs out there to help you do your own taxes. They are reviewed regularly in the media or on the WEB and are sometimes referred to as “home” or “do it yourself” programs. The level of sophistication of these programs has increased over the years but there are sometimes limitations. If you have a difficult situation (where there could be varying interpretations of the correct tax treatment) then the program you have chosen might not handle it correctly. Add to this the fact that you need to understand how to actually use the program (and admittedly some are pretty easy) and you now have learning time that might be better spent enjoying your favorite pastime.

Finally, you could just throw your hands up and turn it over to someone who does this on a regular basis. Any tax professional should be able to review your situation (a previous return would be helpful) in order to give you an estimate of the cost. However, your decision should be not be based on price alone but also take into account the expertise of the person or organization you are entrusting this job to and the complexity of your situation. Look at the organization you might choose for their knowledge and resources to handle your situation. At Padgett, we have been in the business of helping people with their taxes for over 40 years and we devote the resources to keeping up with tax knowledge necessary to provide you with the peace of mind that your taxes are done correctly.

In any event keep the goal in mind – file your return – even if it is after April 30.