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The biggest mistake people make when they do their taxes

Posted by attorney Glen Ashman

H&R Block is not a tax place (nor is the guy in the Statute of Liberty clown suit)

Prepared by the Law Office of Glen E. Ashman 2791 Main Street East Point GA 30344

Every year millions of Americans make a big mistake. They go to H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty and Tax King to do their taxes. Think about how ludicrous this is. Would you trust your taxes to a place that dresses up someone like the Statute of Liberty or a clown in a king suit and dances on the corner holding a poster? Or, would you trust your taxes to a part time worker for tax season who has taken just a brief training course?

H&R Block hires people who have a mere 81 hour training course. According to their website, a high school dropout can get a job with them ("No, you're not required to have a college degree. Graduation from high school or an equivalent degree is required in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas" Additionally, the big tax chains will try to rip you off with things like rapid refund loans where you will pay interest rates a Mafia loan shark would be embarassed to charge. A regular accountant can get you a pretty fast refund with a normal efile without one of the junk loan products. Look at this link on Clark Howard's site about HR Block's ripoff "deal": . When you read the numbers, you'll want to look elsewhere.

Most people have fairly simple tax returns and actually can do them without help. These days, the easiest route for them is to either spend a few dollars at the store and buy a tax program or simply go online and use the online version (Tax Act is fine and very inexpensive. Turbotax and HR Block at Home also work). There are free versions that many people can use, and generally the low-end paid versions work for most people too. The easy way to find a tax program is to go to the IRS website,,id=118986,00.html?portlet=106 (or just go to and look for the free file link) and you'll see a link where most people can do their federal return for free. There are links to free and paid tax programs, and even some links for state tax programs.

If you do need help, you do not want a dancer in a clown suit. Nor do you want a high school dropout. In those cases look for a real accountant, preferably a CPA or enrolled agent. Experience counts, and so does the licensing. The main people who need help are people with complex life situations: self-employment, high income, investment income, real estate matters, divorce, pensions, etc. Even there, some of the tax programs do well, but a person may save money by using a real accountant in terms of maximizing credits and deductions.

But stay away from HR Block and the clown people. That's like going to a high school dropout to treat a serious illness. They might figure it out, but they really lack the training and experience you need.

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