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Tax Tips: Can I do my taxes myself?

Whether someone can do their own taxes is an interesting question. The U.S. tax code gets more and more complicated with each passing year. Another year, another set of rules added to the previous set of rules.

If you have a very simple and straightforward tax situation, with a job, a house, and a family, it might be fairly easy for you to fill out your forms online with the help of TurboTax or one of the free filing programs offered by various companies. But once you add things like self-employment income, distributions from retirement funds, capital gains taxes, and any of a zillion of other items that must go on your tax returns, it's probably too complicated for the average person.

When in doubt, get some help. If you can't afford to hire a tax preparer, many cities have volunteer tax assistance programs offered through local colleges or non-profit organizations. See if there is one available near you.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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