The Cost of Free Tax Advice from the IRS

If you’re like many people, you do your own taxes each year. You’re not a tax expert by trade, but you take advantage of the many available resources out there — including those from the IRS. In fact, you probably hold information from the IRS in the highest regard, since the agency makes the rules.

Surprisingly, taking IRS advice as the gold standard isn’t always the best way to go. In fact, doing so can come with some pretty steep financial implications, as both the agency’s employees and publications don’t always give stellar instructions.

IRS Doesn’t Stand Behind It’s Advice

If you read between the lines, you’ll notice the warning signs. Even the annual IRS publication “Your Federal Income Tax” — a guide to filling out your Form 1040 — includes the disclaimer “You are still responsible for payment of the correct tax.”

Far too many taxpayers have inadvertently relied on bad advice from the IRS and wound up paying the price. This can include a giant bill for back taxes and interest fees that can seriously break your budget.


How to Avoid a Costly Tax Blunder

Most people don’t look forward to doing their taxes each year, but the process is easier for some than others. If you dread doing your taxes because you truly don’t understand how to properly complete the forms, you’re probably better off paying a professional to handle the task.

Getting through to an IRS rep can be a hassle in itself, but there’s no guarantee your questions will even be answered correctly. The last thing you want is to be hit with a big tax bill after the fact, so footing a tax preparation bill might actually be the cheapest route.

You also need to take the value of your time into consideration. Spending hours upon hours struggling to complete your taxes isn’t an efficient use of your time. Whether you’re missing time at work or with your family, weigh the opportunity cost to decide if doing your own taxes is really the best move.

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