How long do you spend doing your own tax return?

To those who are working full-time, just wondering how long it takes you guys to do your tax returns.

To those who hire an accountant to do your taxes, do you feel that the money you paid is worthwhile? If so, why do you feel this way and can you share your experiences?

Really interested to hear your experiences.
As a former IRS agent I don't take too much time to do my taxes. Besides, I use the short form.
I don't know how I always get my step-dad to do it, but he's not around this year so... I dunno, maybe I'll just send them all of my slips and let them sort it out.
gopher you were an IRS agent.

Wow what a hated profession!

And to think the American-hater was once a government civil servant!
The most work I do on my taxes is place each envelope in a folder, and when I have all of them,
off I go to my favourite tax lady, who does a great job every year. I used to do them years ago,
but once we had them done professionally, I didn't want to touch them again.
Mine is going to be complicated this year. I need to get going on it. How long it will take depends on how creative I'll need to be.
Dexter Sinister
I do the returns for myself, my wife, and our two children. Takes me about 15-20 minutes per return. I spend $40 every year on CRA-approved commercial tax preparation software (Intuit's Quicktax), and I'd consider it cheap at twice the price. Saves me hours, mostly because it does all the arithmetic correctly the first time, knows all about the necessary schedules and supplementary forms, and I can send the returns in over the Internet, or print and mail them.

Income taxes aren't that hard, really, most people's tax situation is really pretty simple, don't let it intimidate you. If you've got investment or dividend income from multiple sources, foreign income, capital gains or losses, run your own business, have rental property, etc., it can get messy, but if you're into that kind of stuff you probably already have an accountant taking care of things for you. Or you should have.

Most of us though, are plain old wage earners. If you can read and do simple arithmetic, you can probably do your own income tax return in a couple of hours. There are relatively few things you really need to know about.

-you'll have T4 forms from your employers showing what you were paid and what deductions were taken from you,
-you might have a T5 form or two if you have investment income,
-if you're a student you'll need form T2202A from the educational institution, because tuition's deductible and you also get a monthly deduction for every month you were attending school,
-if you have child care expenses you'll need receipts from the caregivers (summer camp fees count too!),
-if you made contributions to a private pension fund you'll have a receipt from whoever manages the fund,
-you'll have receipts for any charitable donations you made,
-alimony and child support payments to a former spouse are also deductible. That income is taxable in the former spouse's hands.
-if you moved to a new city to take a new job some of your moving expenses are deductible (long as you have receipts) .
-medical expenses that exceed 3% of your net income will also give you a deduction.

You should also know that if you're a student and have more than enough deductions to reduce your taxable income to zero, you can transfer the rest of your tuition and education deductions to a spouse, parent, or grandparent, or carry them forward to use in future years yourself.

That'll cover 90% of us I bet. What's the minimum fee an outfit like H&R Block charges for the simplest tax returns, around $100? Is your time worth $50 an hour to you? Or spend $40 on something like Quicktax and ask yourself is your time worth $30 an hour to you? And think about this: commercial tax preparers like H&R Block usually offer a guarantee that if they make a mistake that incurs interest charges or penalties for you, they'll pay them. You know whose side that puts them on when it comes to maximizing your deductions? Not yours.
I think not
Five minutes and $200, and I always get a nice fat check back.
I get a CGA. I have never been audited. I have been a sol proprietor and run two different small corporations. That accountants sig on that return really helps. Plus they keep you within the law.
The quarterly one takes about a half hour to gather the stuff and walk it to the Tax Guy, drop it off and return..... the April biggie takes about as much time .... four times a half hour = two hours a year of mostly walking and listening to how his golf scores are improving (yawn)!
Well I guess I spend the most time of everyone here, I'm a little over a year out of school, have huge student loan debt, and am running a small contracting business. I'd say I put close to 8 hours into my return this year, just to make sure that I'd done the business return properly and that I'd reduced my taxable income as much as possible without committing fraud. Then I took my numbers to a CGA paid $120.00 for them to file the return for me. Like someone else said above I'm hoping that having that second pair of eyes on it and a signature will keep the auditors away.
My return this year took all of 10 minutes to do, netfile, and only took a week to get my return. Quicktax is great for carrying over the previous year's information (in this case, my tuition claims), then all I had to do was fill in my T4s, change my marriage information around and fill in the blanks. Between my wife and I, it takes less than an hour to get them both done, but we're young, and don't have things like mortgages and RRSPs factoring into our taxes.

I was audited once (I think it was the first time I filed electronically), but I was in university and I only had four pieces of reference to send them to back up my claim (T4, T2204, OSAP, rent receipt). Needless to say, it was without incident.
I keep very good and easily located tax related information and have a reasonably simple bookeeping system which even I can understand with much of it duplicated on personal computer files which can downloaded any time of the year.

I think people often spend a great deal of time looking for the paperwork - and if anything even resembles a possible tax consideration I keep that information in a file next to the real income tax files such as last years's submission, etc. Then I let the tax guy decide for me.
Quote: Originally Posted by eh1ehView Post

I get a CGA. I have never been audited. I have been a sol proprietor and run two different small corporations. That accountants sig on that return really helps. Plus they keep you within the law.

What do you mean by the accountant signature really helps? Does it mean that if you hire a professional to do it, it has less chance to get audited because accountants are familiar with filing tax returns?

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