Relax, Mr. Accountant

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It’s time to start thinking about getting your things together for tax time. While filling out your tax form isn’t particularly difficult (in most cases), it can be time consuming and tedious. And there is so much to keep track of that you might miss some of your tax deductions and tax credits. Depending on how complicated your taxes are, you might consider hiring a tax professional to take of preparing your tax return. I know that with my home business (a limited liability company – LLC), and with the investments we are making, it is helpful to have a professional take care of things.

Yes, I could do it myself with software, but the software I need to prepare my state and federal taxes for my home business starts getting a little pricey. By the time I pay my accountant to do it, I’m paying about $200 more (well, less than that if you count the tax deduction I get for the portion of the fee related to the business), but saving oodles of time, since I don’t have to go through all of the worksheets and what not to help me figure out what I qualify for. Instead of spending four hours or so slaving over my taxes, I take 45 minutes to round up my information (which I keep organized throughout the year), and head over to the accountant. Then I go shopping or run other errands for an hour and a half while he gets everything ready.

If you have complex taxes, it can be to your benefit to hire a professional. S/he may catch deductions you miss, and it can be a huge time saver. If you value your time to spend with family, or just to do something for yourself, you might consider having someone else do your taxes.

Choosing a tax professional

You want to be careful when choosing a tax professional, since this person will have access to your personal financial information. You want someone reputable, as well as someone who knows what s/he is doing. Here are 4 things to consider when choosing a tax professional:

  1. Fees: Shop around for a good price. However, you shouldn’t just go for the cheapest accountant or tax preparer you can find. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Get an idea of standard prices, and then choose something that seems reasonably priced, but not too cheap.
  2. Services: You want to make sure that your tax professional offers the services you need. One thing to find out is whether s/he will help you out in the event of a tax audit. Find out about electronic filing, printing out payment stubs and other services that you might need personally.
  3. Location: It can help to have a tax preparer that is reasonably close, so that you can meet face to face and so that you can run information by that you might have forgotten. A local tax professional can make things much easier.
  4. Personality: Meet with your top choices in person, to get a feel for how you interact. You want to choose someone you can work with, and whom you trust. Ask for references, and check up with others who have used that tax preparer.

If you decide that a tax professional is the way to go for you, be careful as you search out one that is compatible with you, and who is willing to work with you.

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