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Sorry about that - apparently I hit a button before finishing my previous reply.
To finish:
David, one has to be VERY careful about using the IRS-sponsored VITA. Very careful. Example: I had a tax client who knew little if anything about income taxes. He told me that he volunteered for VITA just to find out if he could do his own taxes and to find out what the government was doing! He stated that he was astonished and dismayed to find out how much money the government gave away with the earned income credit, and was floored by how complicated it was to compute.
I would NOT have wanted this person to prepare ANYBODY'S tax return . . .shudder. Needless to say, he continued to come to me for his income tax preparation.

Another thing that is important in deciding what type of tax practitioner to use is to consider using an EA (Enrolled Agent). An EA is licensed by the U S Treasury Department, after passing an extremely difficult test; and must maintain high ethical standards plus attend several hours of intensive tax seminars each and every year. EAs are very savvy in knowing how to "push the envelope" in exploring new ways to save taxes while strictly maintaining the letter of the law. They are also trained in representing the taxpayer before the IRS and can do so without the taxpayer being present. I have found that IRS employees respect the credentials of the Enrolled Agent, and they should: the EA knows IRS law and regulations and is fiercely on the side of the taxpayer.

Good luck with the new tax changes this year - we investors have been given lots of tax breaks (for a few years only!), so better take advantage of them!

Remember to pay the correct tax and not a penny more!
Carolyn S Lutes, EA
"retired somewhat"

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