Monday, March 25, 2013

Life is chugging along, with some minor plan adjustments

So in my December post I had mentioned I was going into web development. This is still true, I continue to be the web developer for a few sites, but I've also decided to pick up some Cisco networking certifications over the spring/summer. My goal is to have the CCNP and possibly CCNA (or CCNP) security certs by September. Then I plan on either continuing this job with Easy Web Taxes, or picking up a networking job. If I go the networking route I would come to a fork in the road. If, after working for a time, I wind up liking networking I'll likely go for a CCIE certification. If not, I'll continue working and putting my extra effort/time/money into becoming a software developer. Either way I've got a lot of work ahead of me.

To reach my goal would likely require me to move to a city. Personally I can't stand the city, but with the lack of jobs in the mountains (out side of retail, restaurant, and hotel work) I'm going to have to put up with it in order to make a decent living. So, I've decided to make this the year I go for a mountain goat. I plan on scouting it a lot over the summer since the cost is so high for a tag ($250 for residents, over $2,000 for non-residents), so I should have plenty of photos and stories to share. We also bought a muzzle-loader this winter so I'll also be doing muzzle-loading season for deer and elk. Outside of that it's up in the air if I do any regular rifle seasons.

Some things I've learned about taxes

Now that I've been working for as their "tech guy" I've learned that a lot of people assume they have "simple" tax returns they can do themselves (via "do it yourself" tax software). This turns out to be a false impression. It's one of those things that if you think about it, is just like hiring a lawyer. Sure you can study the law for yourself, but a lawyer has spent their career learning the law and all it's ins and outs. So if you were on trial for something other than a speeding ticket would you "do it yourself" or hire a lawyer?

The same answer to the above question should apply to your taxes. Sure doing them yourself might get you a decent refund for only spending $50 on a "do it yourself" software package. This might be just fine if you're a teenager working at a clothing store. However if you were to hire someone who does taxes for a living they will do them right and possibly get you an even bigger refund. Or they might find something wrong that you did and help you avoid getting in trouble with the IRS by getting your paperwork straightened out. I've even seen a case where had this one person followed what the "do it yourself" software package told them, they would have owed thousands of dollars. The tax pro on the other hand got them a refund.

Another thing I learned is that people assume CPAs are good at doing taxes. Most are, but if you use (or are thinking about using) one and they use language like "let's do this in order to avoid an audit," watch out! If they are doing your taxes right/legally an audit shouldn't scare them. All they have to do is cite the tax law that they used to apply to your return and the IRS will go away.

It is truly amazing how people treat their taxes. I've learned now that I will likely never do my own taxes, unless I become a tax pro myself.