Tax tips: Top 5 reasons to hire a tax pro

3. Your situation falls under nuanced sections of the tax code.

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    Forestry School graduate Claire Schlemme, of New York, wears a decorated mortarboard during the 2011 commencement at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. When your children are in college, it can be tricky knowing whether to combine tax deductions and credits.
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Even if your life hasn't been in flux lately, quirks of the tax code can sometimes warrant careful monitoring from a trained eye.

Example: If you care for an aging parent, it's worth taking a close look to see whether you can claim him or her as a dependent, even if the parent doesn't live with you, says Melissa Labant, director of tax advocacy and professional standards for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Similarly, if you have a family member pursuing postsecondary education, it can be tricky to know from year to year if and how to combine deductions and credits.

"It can be overwhelming," Ms. Labant says, "for someone who is not a professional to prepare their taxes if they have someone in college."

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