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Several years ago I tried following this advice, and inadvertantly double-reported some income. This was after attempting to read all the relevant instructions and forms. I then spent dozens (multiple) of hours trying to clean up the mess. There probably would have been a more efficient way of doing it, but that's kind of the point. Professionals know their way around the system and understand the vocabulary.

I have no doubt that it's technically possible for anyone to do their own taxes. But if you're inexperienced, it's fraught with peril. And my situation was one that most people would call pretty simple.

Similarly, it's often easy to miss some deductions altogether. Not only is the paperwork often confusing, but deductions are an unknown-unknowns situation where you might never even see the relevant form. Several people I know ran into that this year and overpayed by enough to wipe out 5-10 years of TurboTax fees, which really calls into doubt the cost-benefit of doing them by hand.

And as you said - those people were formula-happy programmers with simple W-2 income from one job. It's the absolute lowest level of complexity available, and it's still easy to get wrong.

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