Doing your taxes can be confusing and time-consuming, especially if you’re self-employed or run a small business. Hiring a tax professional simplifies the process. Experienced tax preparers are not only able to handle your returns, but can also help maximize deductions to get you the greatest returns.
There are three main types of tax professionals to choose from:
• Enrolled agents (EAs) are recognized by the IRS, federally licensed and required to obtain continuing education units (CEUs) every year.
• Certified public accountants (CPAs) are also required to get CEUs, but may not specialize in tax preparation.
• Tax attorneys understand the complexities of tax law and can help if you run into trouble.
1. Look for a License: Not all tax preparers fall into these categories. Anyone with a preparer tax identification number can handle returns, so it’s best to look for a licensed professional if you want to be sure of reliable service. A qualified preparer has passed all the required exams and knows how to stay in compliance with current tax laws. Hiring someone with a license also means that you’ll have an advocate who can legally represent you in the event of an audit.
2. Ask About Experience: Filing out and filing a standard non-itemized 1040 form is fairly straightforward, but if you run a business, make a lot of charitable donations, are a farmer or have recently inherited money, your tax return is going to be more complicated. Look for someone who specializes in the type of return that you need to file, and inquire how much experience he or she has working with these returns. To make your search easier, ask for recommendations from friends, family or other people working in your industry.
3. Know the Cost: The average cost for a professional to file a 1040 without itemization is around $128. Itemizing increases the fee to $223. Explain exactly what your return entails so that the preparers you speak with can give you an accurate estimate of what the entire process will cost. This allows you to budget properly by either incorporating the fee into your payment or deducting it from your return. In most cases, the convenience of having someone else file for you is worth the extra money.
4. Ensure You’ll Get Support: Concerns and questions about taxes pop up throughout the year, not just when the filing deadline is approaching. Make sure that the tax professional you hire will be available to offer help and guidance with planning, keeping records and understanding tax law. If your preparer pops up only once a year and is unreachable the rest of the time, it’s not likely that you can trust them to be truly invested in your best interests.
Using these guidelines to hire the best tax professional for you makes tax time much less of a hassle. When you have the right third-party preparer on your side, you can stop worrying about your returns and enjoy a stress-free spring every year.
At Verdeja & De Armas, our team of Miami tax consultants is dedicated to providing independent and unbiased tax recommendations for businesses and business interests of all sizes. Contact us today for a tax consultation!