Personal Finance

Complete Tax Return Myself Or Should I Hire An Accountant?

Many people would rather have a root canal than file their own taxes every year but with all of the technology now available to assist with tax preparation such as tax return software like TurboTax, the decision to get help or help yourself does require some more exploration. Each method does have some pros and cons. Take a look for yourself and make a more informed decision for this tax year as to whether you should complete your own tax return or hire an accountant to do your taxes.

Complete Tax Return Myself

If math is your forte and taxes seem fun, then by all means go for it on your own. For those a bit more squeamish, there are still opportunities where you can try your hand at it with no risk involved. There are many online sites that allow you to prepare your whole return without actually paying a fee until you are ready to file. You can try it out just to see where you stand and if you are not comfortable with your input, you simply go elsewhere for help.

There are also relatively inexpensive tax preparation software programs such as TurboTax that you can purchase to make your preparation time shorter and more efficient. If you have your documentation ready and understand the laws, using the software can save you the cost of professional help. Most software will pose enough questions to help you figure out what you are doing and if you are doing things correctly.

Preparing your taxes on your own may be the right choice if your tax situation is pretty straight forward and you have the basic knowledge of income tax deductions you are eligible to receive. You can save money by processing your own taxes and not seeking professional help.  Keep in mind that efiling your return is easier than mailing it.

Hire an Accountant to Complete Tax Return

If you taxes are more complicated and require itemization, you might do better with an accountant who is up to the task and has the knowledge to get you the maximum deductions. There are professional accountants and CPAs to hire or you can opt for a chain tax preparation company. Depending on the level of complexity of your tax information, you need to do your research to find out who will best meet your needs at a price you can afford.

Professionals know which questions to ask you that will benefit your return. They will also stand by you in the event something is not correct after filing. If you have questions or concerns about your taxes, you can call on their professional expertise throughout the process. You will need to be organized and ready to get started once you mean with a professional. Some companies will bill for time while others will opt for a flat-fee service.

If you are just starting a new business or had some other dramatic lifestyle change that has affected your finances, it may be wise to seek the help of a professional accountant or tax preparer so you will understand how the changes will affect you and to feel the peace of mind knowing your taxes have been properly handled.

One thing to keep in mind is that an accountant won’t organize or locate all your tax slips.  You still need to do a fair bit of preparatory work if you hire an accountant.

More resources

2009 Income tax changes

What to do if you lose your W2 form?