What is the best option for you to prepare your taxes?

With it being the start of tax season we wanted to revisit a post we had from last year with the different options available for preparing your taxes. With so many options available, it's important to evaluate all of them and figure out what option is best for you. The most common tax preparation options are:

  • Hire a CPA to prepare your taxes for you.
  • Prepare you taxes individually with purchased software.
  • Use one of the large national tax - preparation chains (H&R Block, Liberty Tax, Jackson-Hewitt, etc.)

In full disclosure, I'm obviously going to favor hiring a CPA to help assist you in most cases. However, the other options do have merit and I'll touch on some of the pros and cons of each.

Hiring a CPA:

It is a common misconception that working with a CPA is expensive and only for those people who own businesses or have a lot of money. This isn't true anymore! We are competitively priced  to make sure we can provide high quality services to everyone who needs them, regardless of their financial background. Taxes are one of our specialities and we'll make sure that you are always receiving all of the deductions you are entitled to. We are also available year-round for any questions that might arise during the year, so you can feel comfortable that we'll always be there to help. We also offer many services (Check out our previous Blog Post for What's New?) to make getting your return prepared this year as easy as possible.

Preparing your own taxes:

For some people preparing your own taxes doesn't seem like a daunting task, however, for some it can be. Especially, nowadays there are many different software options for individuals to choose from. These software options for some may be sufficient. The software is designed to ask you questions and based on your responses it will determine everything that needs to be completed to prepare your return. However, the major downfall of using this software is that if it doesn't ask you the proper questions or you don't fully understand what the question was asking and you answer improperly, your tax return will not be prepared correctly and you may either miss out on potential deductions or potentially be required to amend your tax return several months later when notified by the IRS and you may need assistance from a CPA at that point.

When all said and done by preparing your tax return with the available software and filing fees it will probably cost anywhere between $50 - $100 on average. In addition, you have most likely spent a good portion of a Saturday or several hours on a weeknight working your way through the questions, to end up potentially missing out on deductions or having to end up filing an amended return anyway.

Large National Tax Chains:

In recent years more and more tax preparation chains have sprung up. Most people are familiar with seeing these chains as they are the H&R Blocks, Liberty Tax, Jackson-Hewitt offices that you see just about everywhere now. These chains make many promises such as low prices and quick return preparation, promising the maximum return possible. However, they typically don't have the lowest prices (Wilson Financial is typically lower) and the person preparing your tax return, may not be specialized in the Accounting and Tax fields. These offices typically hire individuals part-time during the tax season and train them to use their software and prepare your return for you. This is basically the same as you using software to prepare your return on your own. In addition, these chains usually close after April 15th and don't re-open until the next tax season. This becomes a problem if your return wasn't filed properly or you have a question that arises sometime between May and December, you then must find someone else to help you.

What's best for you?

It is up to each person individually to determine what method for preparing their tax return is going to be best for them. As in many things, there are always caveats, so it's very important to understand all of the pros and cons of each type of tax return preparation. If you have any questions on the different options for preparing your return or our services and why we believe we're your best option please reach out to us and we'd be happy to discuss things with you.