What type of tax return preparation is best for you?

With it being the time of the year when your tax documents start to roll in, it's important to start thinking about who to choose as a tax preparer. With so many options available, it's important to evaluate the options and figure out what 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. 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! At Wilson Financial, we are competitively priced to make sure we can provide services to all individuals regardless of their financial background. Our goal is to be a trusted advisor for our clients where they know that their tax return is being prepared properly and you are receiving all the deductions you are entitled to. We are also available year-round for any questions that might arise during the year. This can be a great resource to make sure financial decisions made during the year can be made to minimize any potential tax liability. One of the other benefits of working with a CPA is the specialized knowledge in the field. Helping people prepare their taxes is one of our passions because it allows us to take a somewhat complicated and confusing field of tax law that we have specialized in and help all types of individuals navigate the tax maze.

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. They are 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 the software 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 properly 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.

When all said and done by preparing your tax return the software and filing fees has probably cost anywhere between $50 - $100 on average, 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 several months later.

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. 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 their method for preparing their tax return and all options can be sufficient in getting your returned filed, however, 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 or concerns in the different options for preparing your return or the services that Wilson Financial can provide please feel free to contact us either at tim@wilsonfinancialcpa.com or (920)830-2275. We look forward to helping our clients in all of their financial needs!