Tax season is a time of year filled with ups and downs. On the one hand, if you file your taxes correctly and take advantage of all the right rebates and deductions, you could walk away with some extra cash in your pocket once all is said and done. The downside is that if you choose to prepare your taxes yourself, you have to commit a lot of time to the process and sort through mounds of paperwork, making it easy to get confused and miss out on certain tax benefits.
Many people opt out of filing their own taxes because the prospects of revisiting an entire year's worth of financial history can be daunting. The IRS estimated that in 2011, it took the average individual roughly 22 hours to prepare their taxes, and even more if they own a business or a rental property. If you don't think you can devote that much time to the process, you may actually be doing yourself a disservice by not hiring a professional to file for you.
For long-term financial assistance, try a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
There are several different kinds of tax professionals who are qualified to organize your tax materials and file for you. A CPA is a popular choice as they go through an extensive college training program to help guarantee they are experts in the field. As well, these professionals have their own continuing education requirements that they must complete to continue their practice. The biggest benefit of allowing a CPA to prepare your taxes is that they may be able to help you with your finances throughout the year, and can keep your information on file for subsequent filings which may reduce your risk of exposure to identity theft.
There are some companies dedicated solely to filing your taxes
You may also hear about storefront tax professionals that advertise on TV. These agencies employ a combination of certified tax preparers, CPAs and other individuals who specialize specifically in tax preparation. In most cases, these services are beneficial because their business is designed exclusively for tax season, although they can help borrowers in a much similar capacity to a CPA for finances throughout the year.
Your lawyer may have some expertise as well
Many people also ask their lawyers to help them with their yearly tax filings. This is an interesting alternative because, like a CPA, a lawyer has continuing education requirements that help keep them up to date on changes to IRS tax code. However, most lawyers don't have as much expertise as a CPA unless they specialize in tax law. But, a lawyer could be a safe option because an attorney you know and trust may be more careful about handling your personal information, such as your credit details, than someone else.
Overall, if you choose to get help with your tax preparation, be sure to choose someone you feel comfortable with and trust.