Yes, always go for cheap. The problem here is that you can find free or almost free tax prep services. You can go to what appears to be cheap retail tax prep chains. You can buy cheap tax software. You can do all these things cheaply. Or so it appears.The problem is that your “cheap” solution may be the most expensive solution you will ever encounter. So you do it yourself, because you have a cheap software program. Guess what? You just shot yourself in the foot. Unless, of course, you know all the ins and outs of the tax law. Unless you have a good grasp of the relevant portions of 38.000 pages of tax gobbly-goop, written by lawyers, for lawyers, in a language that only approximates English. Unless, of course, you kept up with the hundreds of changes that occurred during the year, including the Code, Regulations, Revenue Procedures, and tax court cases. Don’t bet that your $ 45 tax program did that. They didn’t. They can’t.If you believe that you know enough to properly complete a Schedule C with the lowest amount of tax with no formal training in tax law and without spending at least 40 hours a year in refresh training, you are deluding yourself. “But it’s only a simple tax return.” Sure, you have convinced yourself. Maybe, probably not.If you think a CPA is “too expensive” then you have just been seduced by the power of advertising. You have succumbed to the siren call of ego empowerment. Is it arrogance? Is it false confidence? Gee, I don’t know. What I do know is that a good CPA can usually save a client many times their cost. It may not happen on one return, but over a series of years, the advice, counsel, planning and technical expertise you get with a CPA or EA will pay handsome dividends. Over my 40 years of practice, I have seen many self and tax prep chain prepared returns, and in virtually all of the cases have found something that would have saved the taxpayer lots of money. More than justified the cost.But, of course, these are intangibles, unquantifiables. You know exactly what that cheap tax prep software costs, so focus on that. Forget about the hundreds or thousands of dollars in extra taxes you will pay because you don’t know the ins and outs of the law. Actually, the IRS once did a study on this and found that most taxpayers overpay their taxes. Kinda seems contrary to what you would expect, right? I mean when they audit you, they want more money. That’s correct. Oh, and when you self-prepare, you are on your own if you are challenged. No problem, right? If you buy into that, please, you need serious reality therapy. The tax system is an adversarial system. You wouldn’t face a Ninja with a water squirt pistol would you?Enough said. SWSWSW. Some will, some won’t, so will it be. Sorry I ranted on about this, but I have faced this issue with so many people, including members of my family, and it’s a sore point. I just hate to see people overpay their taxes deceived into thinking they got a “deal” on some cheap tax software.