DIY Tax Preparation Can Get You into Tax Trouble - Memphis, TN

Education & Training with McDonald Tax Consulting


The widespread availability of tax preparation software has made Do-It-Yourself tax prep easier than ever before. These software packages are simple to use, with step-by-step instructions and built-in checklists that make mistakes less likely.


But mistakes do happen, and when they do, the IRS will be out to collect any back taxes you might owe plus penalties and interest.


Note, if you find yourself in tax trouble, or owe the IRS back taxes, we always recommend getting in touch with a specialized Tax Resolution Professional like our firm to negotiate with the IRS on your behalf. If you’d like to schedule a no-cost confidential tax relief consultation, contact us at


DIY tax prep software have their limitations. There are times when the DIY approach will not work, and professional tax preparation services are warranted. Here are 10 times when it pays to abandon your DIY ways and seek the help of a tax professional.


1. You hold foreign assets or investments in foreign banks.

The IRS is cracking down on foreign assets in a big way, and holding them puts a target on your back. You cannot afford to take a chance.


2. You lived and worked in multiple states.

The laws governing earned income in multiple states are incredibly complicated, and most tax prep software is not set up to address those complications.


3. You had a major change to your personal life.

A marriage, divorce or the birth of a child will change your life - and complicate your tax situation. Major life changes require major tax help, and that means hiring a pro.


4. You made serious mistakes on a past return or already owe back taxes.

A mistake on a previous return, especially one that resulted in a bigger tax bill, is reason enough to hire a pro. Taxpayers in such a situation could face a higher risk of an audit, and they will be happy to have a pro in their corner.


5. You received a large inheritance.

If you inherited real estate, stocks or other property, your taxes may be too complicated to tackle on your own. A pro can help you sort things out, so you do not pay more than you should.


6. You won the lottery.

Congratulations! You probably owe a large amount in taxes. If the odds smiled on you last year, you will need serious help with your taxes.


7. You bought your first home.

Buying a home entitles you to tax breaks, including some that are quite obscure. A professional can help you ferret out those deductions, possibly netting you a lower tax bill.


8. You sold your home.

The sale of a home is a complicated matter, one that requires professional help and guidance. From determining the true cost basis to getting credit for realtor fees and past improvements, a professional tax professional can help you navigate these tricky waters.


9. You suffered the death of a spouse.

The death of a spouse is a tragedy, one that will complicate your life and your taxes. If you suffered the death of a spouse, you have enough to deal with, so give yourself a break and hire a professional tax preparer.


10. You started a business.

Once your business is up and running, you may be able to do your taxes, but for year one; professional help is warranted. A professional tax preparer can help with everything from business structure to identifying unusual but valuable deductions.


There is no doubt that tax preparation has gotten a lot easier in recent years. Thanks to technology, many taxpayers can now complete their own tax returns.


Even so, there are times when the DIY approach is not the best one. If you find yourself in an unusual tax situation, it is time to get professional help, and doing so could be the best approach.


Have years of unfiled returns?

Our firm specializes in helping people with IRS problems. If you have years of unfiled tax returns, don’t use a software package and attempt to file on your own. Reach out to our firm, and we’ll schedule a no-obligation confidential consultation to explain your options to permanently resolve your tax problem.


For more information, you can reach us at


About Felicia McDonald

Felicia D. McDonald is an Enrolled Agent, licensed to represent you before the IRS. She has a passion for taxes and enjoys helping clients remain focused on their business and personal tax goals. She is dedicated to helping clients minimize their taxes while maximizing their wealth. If you have any questions regarding our tax or small business services in Memphis, Tennessee or any other area throughout the United States, then please do not hesitate to contact me at (833) 227-8292, or you can find us online at

Comments (4)

Rose Mary Justice
Synergy Realty Pros - Dandridge, TN
Synergy Realty Pros

I would never trust myself to do my own taxes.  This is one area that I hire a professional.  Even at that I have been audited a couple of times.  No fun.

Nov 24, 2019 06:11 PM
Debbie Holmes
John L. Scott - Boise, ID
Gets the job done!

I may be a fool but so far I do my own taxes.  Last turbotax seemed to have a but on the car deduction for business use.  It took a long time to work around it.

Nov 24, 2019 06:40 PM
McDonald Tax Consulting - Memphis, MS
IRS Tax Specialist Serving Memphis, TN Metro Area

Thanks for your comment, Debbie.  I actually became interested in the tax field by preparing my own taxes well over 20 years ago.  There may be unique situations that come up, however, where you may require the services of a tax professional.  Have a great week!

Nov 24, 2019 07:02 PM
McDonald Tax Consulting - Memphis, MS
IRS Tax Specialist Serving Memphis, TN Metro Area

Rose Mary, I can relate!  I leave certain professional services with the professionals.    I could probably represent myself in court, but I likely would not do that.  I would find the best darn Attorney that is most knowledgeable with my situation;  Thanks for commenting!

Nov 24, 2019 07:07 PM