When tax season rolls around, you have an important decision to make. Should you prepare your taxes yourself, perhaps using some self-guided software or an online application, or should you hire a tax professional to file for you? While self-preparation may be okay for people with very simple tax returns -- like teens with one job and no deductions -- it's not a smart choice for most adults with full-time incomes and possible deductions. Here are five reasons why you're better off hiring a tax preparation expert to file for you.
You won't overpay on your taxes
Tax preparation is a competitive industry. The way that the top tax preparation experts set themselves apart is by saving their customers more money. They do this by keeping on top of the many available deductions and credits that may be available to various customers. The federal government, especially, changes the deductions offered to taxpayers annually, so just because you were eligible for a certain deduction last year does not mean you're eligible this year, too. In short, a good tax preparation professional will make sure you file for all deductions and credits for which you are eligible, which will keep more money in your pocket.
You'll save time
Tax preparation software always promises that it's quick and easy to use. But after the fifteenth time you type your name and address into the system, you get a little tired of the repetition. Why waste several evenings on your taxes when you can just gather your paperwork, drop it off at the tax prep company, and let them take care of the work you find monotonous? You can use the time you save to spend more time with your family, catch up on your reading, or finally get started on that new fitness regimen you resolved to adopt on New Year's.
You'll be protected against audits
Getting audited is everyone's worst nightmare. If you use tax prep software to file your taxes and you end up being audited, you'll be on your own to come up with the evidence of certain expenses and income. This can make your life difficult for months on end! If you hire a tax professional to file your taxes, he or she will usually include an "audit guarantee" in the contract. This means that if your return does get audited, the preparation professional will handle all of the paperwork and other legwork required to appeal the audit or otherwise satisfy the IRS demands.
Tax preparation experts are experts on your state's tax guidelines.
You don't just have to file federal taxes -- state taxes are due in April, too! Every state's guidelines are different, so if you have not lived in your current state very long, you may have a lot to learn if you were to file your taxes yourself. A tax preparation professional that you hire in your current state will be an expert on the tax guidelines in that state, so you can be sure you won't overpay or accidentally violate any rules.
Tax preparation experts can tell you if you need to change anything for next year.
Perhaps there are some deductions you might qualify for next year if you choose certain appliances when updating your home. Maybe you need to keep better track of your receipts for donations so you can include them as deductions. Whatever the case may be, your tax preparation professional can give you advice for how to improve your financial situation, resulting in a lower tax burden in years to come. Tax software can't offer this level of personalized advice.
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