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Tax Headache? Get Some Relief

If the approach of April 15 has you reaching for aspirin, we've got some solutions to make filing your Form 1040 a bit less taxing.

Help Yourself
Doing your taxes yourself has never been easier. If your financial situation is complicated, using tax software is simple and can help you avoid making mistakes. Software programs guide you through the process of filing your tax return and can even help you identify tax credits and deductions you may not be aware of.

Through October 15, 2004, registered users of Vanguard.com® have easy access to TurboTax® for the WebSM, Intuit's online tax preparation and filing service. You can use TurboTax for the Web to complete your returns and file them electronically, or print and mail them yourself.*

What's more, because you are a participant in the Consolidated Edison Thrift Savings Plan, TurboTax for the Web is available to you at a significant cost reduction. For price details go to www.vanguard.com and choose “Personal Investors.” On the home page under the “Spotlight on . . .” heading, you'll find the “TurboTax for the Web” link.

Seek Professional Help
While many people choose to do their own taxes, it's not for everyone. Tax preparation becomes more complicated if you're self-employed, own rental properties, or have capital gains.

If your taxes are complicated or you're afraid of making a mistake, you can gain peace of mind by hiring a professional to prepare your taxes. Although tax preparers aren't required to have professional designations, several organizations license or certify tax professionals. By seeking someone who has a recognized designation, you ensure a basic competence in tax preparation.

Three types of tax professionals can prepare your taxes:
  • National tax services. These chains typically have educational requirements of their own, and their fees tend to be lower than those charged by tax preparers who have professional designations. This type of service is the best option for people who want help from a tax preparer and whose taxes aren't very complicated.
  • Certified public accountants (CPAs). CPAs must pass exams administered by accountancy boards and take continuing professional education courses. They are licensed by the various states and can represent you in hearings with the IRS. They are generally more expensive than national tax services and normally work on more complicated tax returns.
  • Enrolled agents. Enrolled agents specialize in taxation and must pass an exam administered by the IRS. In addition, they are required to take continuing education courses to keep up with changes in the tax law. Enrolled agents can represent you in hearings with the IRS and are the only tax preparers who are licensed by the federal government.
Save Money When Hiring a Professional
When you hire professional tax preparers, you pay for their time. Here are some ways you can reduce the time needed to prepare your taxes, thereby reducing your fees:
  • Get organized. Put your records in order before you hand them over to a professional. If he or she has to dig through your records to find the appropriate pieces of information, it will take more time – and time, in this case, is definitely money.
  • Be prepared. Provide a copy of last year's return.
  • Help them out. Many preparers will give you a questionnaire to fill out. Properly completing this form will help speed the process.
If you want additional information or have questions, visit www.vanguard.com. Or call Vanguard® Participant Services at 1-800-523-1188, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Eastern time.

*Florida, Tennessee, and New Hampshire do not permit electronic tax filing. The following states permit electronic filing: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Check with your state taxing authority for more information. The states and the IRS send an electronic acknowledgment for each return successfully e-filed, which Intuit will provide to all registered users.

Vanguard and Vanguard.com are trademarks of The Vanguard Group, Inc. TurboTax for the Web is a service mark and TurboTax is a registered trademark of Intuit Inc., and used with permission. All other marks are the exclusive property of their respective owners.

© 2004 The Vanguard Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.