NEW YORK (MainStreet) — As you begin to think about your 2010 Form 1040 I have some very important advice, perhaps the best tax advice I can give you, that bears repeating: Don’t accept tax advice from anyone other than a professional tax preparer.
Don’t listen to a broker, banker, insurance salesman, neighbor, co-worker, or your Uncle Charlie! If you are given tax information by a non-tax person, be sure to check it out with your own tax professional.
Along the same lines, you should always double-check your options and do the math for the different scenarios you may encounter. On your tax return you are often given choices on how to treat a certain item, and you should review each option and do separate calculations to see which one will result in the lowest tax. A trained tax preparer will be familiar with these nuances.
And consider how the option you choose on your federal return will affect your state tax return. One option may save $50 in federal taxes but cost you $100 on your state return. Choose the option that will allow you to pay the absolute least amount of combined overall federal, state and local income taxes.
Finally, resist the temptation to rely on tax preparation software package or online filing service to prepare a correct and accurate return if you do not have sufficient knowledge of the Tax Code.
No software package or online filing service is a substitute for actual tax knowledge, or for a competent, experienced tax professional.
As with any software, the rule is "garbage in, garbage out". If you don't know how to enter the information, or what information to enter, you won’t get the best, or sometimes not even the correct, answer.
To make your tax preparer happy and ensure you get the best tax deal possible, check out MainStreet's roundup of the essential documents to bring your tax preparer.