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      Money Talks: Tax Hacks 2013 " Hiring a Professional

      There are any number of ways to file a tax return: you can use software...go to a preparation service, or hire high priced pros from a CPA to a tax lawyer. The IRS? They're not particular.

      So what you should you do? First, see if you qualify for free in-person preparation. If you made $51,000 or less, a VITA volunteer will do it free.

      If you made more than that, you've only got two choices. Do your taxes yourself or pay a pro.

      Whether you pay a pro or not, your return is going to be done with software anyway. The only difference is who's doing the typing: you or a pro. So when do you use a professional? Only when that pro is worth it.

      But even if you do decide on a pro, ask a lot of questions first. Talk to several. Make an appointment by phone or in person, and ask about experience: particularly with situations like yours.

      And wherever you go, make sure they're around all year and not just seasonal. You're going to appreciate that if should you get an audit notice in August.

      Bottom line? If your life and your finances are complicated, by all means, use a pro, especially if you need to ask them questions. But if your situation is simple, use software. That's all professionals are doing anyway. Want more information on how to hire the right pro? I've got it waiting for you at Just do a search for "Tax Hacks 2013."

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