The answer is, “Maybe…”
Some Benefits of Having a Tax Guy
Most tax forms are filed online, so a taxpayer needs to be comfortable with computers. (If you are reading this article, we assume you are comfortable on a computer.) Tax calculations can get complicated on paper.
Sometimes it is just nice to pick up the phone and ask a tax question. Sure, you can Google your question, and this can give you the results you need, but if you have a tax guy you have someone looking out for you. Someone who understands your situation because they know you and they know your kids and they know your business. When tax laws change, they can give you a heads up and can even suggest changes that might save you money.
Keeping up with tax law changes, alerting our clients to opportunities to save money, and warning our clients about impending legislation, requires constant education. As EA’s (Enrolled Agents, enrolled to practice before the IRS) we are required to take, on average, 24 hours of continuing education each year. At our office we study anywhere from 100-200 hours each year. It doesn’t mean we know everything, but we do our best to be informed.
You could Just Do Your Taxes Yourself
I can think of a couple of reasons why you would not want a tax guy.
First, you can do it yourself with online software. It can be a lot less expensive to file it yourself. I know, I see the commercials, too. It’s free, free, free. Look carefully because there may be additional fees for filing the state, or if you have children and qualify for credits, or if you need to talk to an actual person for clarification, or if you are self-employed or have rental property or crypto or stock or health insurance on the Exchange, etc. My point is that DIY software may end up being more expensive than it looked when you started out.
You can always ask for a quote from a professional. Now, they may not be able to give you an exact figure, but they can get in the ballpark. This is why… Usually, preparers charge by the form. There are forms that are required for your situation And, there may be forms that are not required but can apply credits and get you a better result. Sometimes as preparers we start asking questions and realize that a client has more going on than was evident when we started. This will mean preparing additional forms.
A second reason you may not want to use a preparer is because you have heard bad stories about unscrupulous preparers. I have heard them, too. I’ve seen the trouble it can cause. It is important to interview the preparer before they start. What are their credentials? How many years of experience do they have? Do they take continuing education? Do they sign the tax return, too? Legally, a paid preparer must sign and date the tax return along with the taxpayers.
What if You Have Tax Issues?
No one wants to think about having tax problems but sometimes stuff happens. You get a letter. That can definitely cause anxiety. As tax preparers, we see letters every week. We can interpret them and know how to respond. After a bit of paperwork, we can even call the IRS on your behalf.
In our firm we serve clients who have accounting degrees, and I even have a former IRS agent as a client. So, you may not need a tax guy, but you may benefit from having a tax guy. Call our office if you need us. First City Income Tax at 912-335-5404