By: Kay Bell, NerdWallet
One of the biggest decisions taxpayers face each year is how to file their returns. Last year, 86%, nearly 132 million, of returns were filed with tax software. But most of those computer-prepared and e-filed returns — almost 79 million — were completed by tax professionals.
Why hire a tax pro to do your taxes online when you can use similar software to do the job yourself? Here are four questions to help you decide.
Be nice to your Accountant
They are nice people performing a much needed function……
Your Accountant would never tell you this; however, there is nothing more frustrating than when a client shows up with a box of receipts. Please know that if you hand them a box of receipts, you will be probably handed a sizable bill in return. As you may guess, sorting through and organizing all of your information takes time and your CPA is going to bill you for that time. If you want smaller fees, make it a priority to keep good, ORGANIZED financial records.
Your Accountant would never tell you this; however, you don’t need to spend $200 or more if your return isn’t complex. There are a lot of great tax filing services out there that can help most people who have uncomplicated tax returns. Understand there needs to be a Balance…….Don’t be penny wise and penny foolish. Seek advice when it is needed and certainly when your financial circumstances have or are about to change dramatically.
If you show up at the office after April 10th asking for a return, know that your Accountant will probably file an extension. A good CPA will manage their clients and their returns so as to provide timely service and accurate returns. But they are not miracle workers. You can’t show up at the 11th hour and expect the same level of service and accuracy. So, when your CPA explains that you are going to file an extension. Calmly say, “Okay, that sounds fine.” And put a reminder on your calendar for next year to start this process a wee bit earlier.
For those of you who are self-employed it is important to set aside money for taxes. It is important to keep in consistent communication with your CPA about your year. If you begin your own business, be sure to set up some time to talk with them about what pieces of business information need to be tracked and what monies need to be set aside to pay upcoming tax bills. You will save yourself a ton of time if you keep track of things as you proceed throughout the year, instead of recreating (ant trying to remember) the events at the end. Start off on the right, ORGANIZED financial foot and you’ll be much happier.
Don’t filter your expenses and decide what is deductible. Too often people discard potential deductions because they think it is not deductible. Laws and personal circumstances change from year to year. Unless you are keeping up with all of the rules, let your CPA decide what applies to you. If you doubt, or are unsure if an expense is deductible, put it into the TAX FILE and discuss it later with your CPA. It is your responsibility to provide the information to the accountant about your life and tax year. It is the CPA’s responsibility to help you navigate your return and tax circumstances.
While it is acceptable to attempt to get the biggest bang for your buck, please don’t complain or negotiate fees after you have engaged a CPA. CPA’s are professionals and you are hiring them to provide a service and advice to create and file your taxes. If this is not a service you would like to pay for, then respectfully pay the contracted amount for their professional time and do not engage their services next year.
When it comes to an audit, your CPA is your biggest ally. It is not wise to go through an audit without a CPA or Enrolled Agent. Be sure to find one that is knowledgeable with IRS audits and most importantly one that you trust. If you need help finding one, call me I would be happy to refer you.
Page Maintained by: Jennifer Shulman
Jennifer is committed to helping her clients as well as other folks improve their daily financial circumstances by providing simple financial solutions.