Hi Taylor - Any recommendations for how I prep my taxes? Do I need to see a professional, or can I just do it online? I’m torn between doing it right and maximizing my refund and just getting the stress of it off my plate.
Hey Carla - I hear you! Nothing feels better than getting your taxes filed and not having to think about it anymore, but you definitely want to have the peace of mind that comes from doing it right and saving as much money as you can. I don’t think there’s a universal best option for filing—the goal is to figure out what will work best for you.
Your situation. If you own a business or are self-employed and haven’t worked as a CPA before, it makes a lot of sense to see a professional. The more forms you have to file, the more chances there are to make a mistake, so I recommend taking all your tax-related documents and plopping them on the desk of an accountant who knows exactly what to do. Alternatively, if you have one employer and one W-2, there’s no reason not to file from the comfort of your own home.
Tax filing software. At the end of the day, all online tax services are using the same paperwork and tax codes. The interface will be different and the amount you pay will vary, but they’re all pretty similar. In this instance, I think the bigger the name, the more you can trust the service. H&R Block and TurboTax have dominated this field for a while and have different price tiers depending on what you need. If a friend with insight recommends another service, feel free to go that route.
Tax professionals. This part is a little trickier. Whether you go to a tax lawyer or a CPA, you really want someone who understands your financial situation. That means knowing what type of income you earn and what kind of deductions are most common in your industry, as well as how to handle any earnings you might have related to investments or inheritance. On top of that, it helps to have a person you like and feel comfortable around. If you’re going to hire a CPA, ask for recommendations and shop around before you choose. That said, don’t wait too long because these folks start getting pretty booked up in March and April!
When in doubt, trust the online filing services. Most of them have the option to chat with a representative if things get complicated, so it’s not like you’re filing completely blind. Just make sure to get it done on time and enjoy that refund, Carla!
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