Choosing a tax preparer is a very important task. Lots of people feel comfortable with online software or chain tax prep stores. Others choose a tax prep service or person via Thumbtack, Facebook, the recommendation of friends, or some other method. Whatever method you choose, be sure the person, software, or company is up to the task of doing your taxes correctly, and with an eye toward finding all the deductions available. Be very sure you trust whatever or whomever you choose.
In the past few days we’ve had several people come through our door who used an online tax prep service. (that shall remain nameless) The tricky part about this kind of tax prep is that most people do not understand all the language of the tax return, nor do they understand how to answer some of the questions and how to figure out the all the deductions available to them. In particular, people who are self employed would benefit from having a real person handling their tax return.
Chain tax prep stores are kind of like a cattle call. They’re available for every Tom, Dick, and Harry who wander in off the street. Their goal is to get people in and out and get paid. Rarely is there a personal relationship of any kind. The other piece to these kind of stores is that many of them close after the season. You may go back to the store to ask a question in May and discover they’ve closed down until the next season. Then you’re tasked with finding a central location that might be able to help you. I happened to be in a retail giant the other day and saw one of the chain companies had an office in the building. The ‘office’ was a desk with two chairs at the end of a row of checkout stations. There was zero privacy. That’s not how I want my personal business handled.
CPA’s and EA’s are licensed professionals who work with tax documents on a regular basis. They are educated in the tax code and in how to handle your concerns. They have a continuing education requirement that keeps them current. A nice plus is they’re available year round.
In our office we establish a relationship with our clients and we see them from year to year. We’re here all year and are readily available by phone, email, or in person. We care about our clients and go the distance to make sure the return is correct and is filed with the best possible results for our clients. We see so many people who’ve tried the online software or even had a past year done by a family member, or an unmotivated tax person. They really need our help and we are here to give it.
However you choose to do your tax return is up to you. Just be sure you are putting your trust in an entity that will take very good care of you and your personal information.