We are just a few days from the beginning of tax filing season 2018. As you've probably been preparing to file your return (or procrastinating because the deadline was moved back a two days until April 17th this year), it is likely you've been been hearing a lot about about tax law changes that have gone into effect. Your 2017 return is subject to a different set of rules, but it is equally important to keep the recent changes in mind going forward in order to maximize your deductions or minimize any tax liability. Essentially, you need to focus on the past, present, and future; you may either need a time machine or a tax professional. This article will focus on how to select the latter.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, simple federal tax returns can be filled out and filed for free at some online tax-prep sites and you might qualify for the IRS's Free File program- about 70% of taxpayers are eligible. Just be aware that free software is designed to be easy to use, quick, and efficient; it can potentially fail to ask all the the right questions and you could potentially miss less common credits and deductions. Whether you are a self employed, a business owner, or have interests a half dozen limited partnerships, the more complexity that is involved in filing your tax return, the more compelling the argument is for hiring a tax professional becomes. Besides having a pulse and being able to fog a mirror, here are some other qualities you might look for.
Go with a tax preparer with experience and credentials. The seasonal offices of well known tax service centers such as H&R Block that pop up in open strip malls can be a huge gamble. While some employees might be experienced professionals, many have only gone through a crash course for a few weeks. With penalties, interest, and possibly even criminal charges at stake, error on the side of caution. Check the history and records of individual tax preparers and firms at the federal or state level. Be sure to look for any disciplinary actions. Tennesseans can check here.
Finally, be sure to ask about fees, including costs you might incur should you need to file for an extension or change your return. Surprises are great, but let's save them for holidays. The cost of preparation may vary greatly based on a myriad of factors, but it should never outweigh the value it brings to the client. Whether it means maximizing a tax refund, avoiding a tax penalty, or providing ongoing advice, hiring an experienced professional that provides quality work can often make an exponential difference in your success. The old adage is true: Your get what you pay for. Spending your dollars on an experienced professional can make make a lot of sense.
If you'd like Eric J. Pelton, CPA and his team of experienced professionals to your handle your tax filing preparation email him here or call 423-622-3156 today and schedule a free consultation. He'd be happy to help.