Using Tax Software Vs. Hiring an Accountant: When You Should Seek Professional Help

A lot can happen in a year. Major life events, bringing in income, attending college, and making donations are all things that can occur throughout the year that will affect your taxes. Everyone has a unique and one of a kind financial situation. Knowing how to file your own taxes versus knowing when to get professional help is crucial to save time, money, and stress.

Before Filing Taxes, Ask Yourself:

  1. Do you feel confident filing taxes without assistance? Whether your tax situation is simple or complex, it is important that you have a general understanding of your circumstance but most importantly the confidence to complete your return accurately. Knowing what forms and documentation is needed and how to correctly translate that information into a database is crucial for an accurate return. 
  1. Are you self employed or have you received investment income in the last year? By being self employed, owning a business, or receiving investment income, your taxes may no longer be considered a “simple return.” To avoid inaccuracies and added confusion, you may need to pay for an upgraded software service, or get professional help to assist you. 
  1. Have you recently had any major life events or changes? Getting married, divorced, buying or selling a house, attending college, and having or adopting a child are all considered some of the major life events that will affect your annual tax return. Some of these events are more complicated to report than others and may require extra attention or assistance.
  1. If you are looking for help, do you need assistance preparing or filing your taxes? If you feel that you can complete your own taxes, but maybe want just a little assistance to boost your confidence, then you can seek help from a tax preparer. They can help you go through all of your documentation and best prepare you to file your taxes on your own. If you are looking for assistance throughout the entire tax process, then it’s best to hire an accountant. An accountant can help you from start to finish, by preparing, assisting, and filing your taxes on your behalf. 
  1. Do you know what tax credits or tax deductions you qualify for? Knowing what tax credits or deductions you qualify for is crucial and beneficial! It cannot only save you money when owing the IRS, but it can also earn you money (if you don’t owe)! Keeping track of the ever changing credits and deductions is complicated. However, it is an accountants job to know exactly this. They will ensure all applicable credits and deductions are entered to your return for the best possible outcome. 

Benefits of Filing With an Accountant

  1. You Get What You Pay for: Although many tax softwares advertise a “free” service, once you begin to complete the prompts and plug in your personal information, these services often tell you that your return isn’t considered simple and doesn’t qualify for a free return and that you must upgrade. Although accountants often cost more than even an upgraded tax software, accountants are highly experienced professionals who can help no matter how complicated the situation may be. Rather than doing the legwork yourself, you can hire an accountant to prep, complete, and file your taxes for you. 
  1. Accountants Offer You Representation: Hiring a CPA or using an accountant that is an enrolled agent with the IRS offers you representation in the case that you were being audited. Because audits are intimidating and stressful, having someone who can represent you and guide you throughout the process is a huge benefit to taxpayers. Something that most tax softwares won’t be able to offer. 
  1. You’ll Get Help For Even the Most Complex Situations: Owning a small business, being self employed, or having rental properties are some of the many situations that can make your tax return go from simple to complicated. Because this makes your return less straight forward, you may not be able to accurately record the information in a tax software and thus need the help of a professional.
  1. Less Stress and More Time Back to You: As mentioned earlier, tax situations are all unique and vary on the scale of complexity. By trusting a highly trained professional to complete your taxes for you, you will save time and have less stress. Once you have an initial meeting with your accountant, the accountant will take over the process and complete the return on your behalf. Rather than spending hours or days in front of a screen trying to do the work yourself, you can trust a professional to do it for you.
  1. Feel Confident and Have Peace of Mind: Accounts are highly reputable and respected for a reason. They know taxes. By choosing to use an accountant, you can feel confident that your taxes are completed accurately, with the most deductions and credits applied to you. In addition to knowing your taxes are in good hands, you also get the peace of mind that in the case of an audit, you are represented. 

Depending on your unique tax and financial situation will depend on the best tax filing method for you. There is a reason that tax software is so popular. Not only is it user friendly, but it is also affordable. However, hiring an accountant will confirm your taxes are completed accurately to ensure you owe or earn as much money as possible! Although hiring an accountant may cost more than tax software, you get someone advocating and personally assisting you throughout the tax process from start to finish. Can tax software do that? 

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