Nobody enjoys filling out their tax forms, but some find the prospect especially daunting. Fortunately, these people have another option– using tax preparation services to aid in the process. And although this decision will depend largely on how complicated your taxes are, filing your taxes might be more confusing this year because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that comes into effect this year.
In fact, many consumers have already been complaining about the new rules on social media platforms. These people are frustrated because they didn’t realize how much impact the TCJA would have on their bottom line. That’s why so many people are looking for help in 2019.
The Necessity of Professional Tax Preparation Services
This frustration doesn’t come as a surprise to most expert observers. People are always much more likely to use professional tax preparation services when new tax laws go into effect. This is especially true for people who experienced changes in their tax status during the previous year.
Fortunately, there are many great tax companies out there who can help. If you’re confused by the new rules, it’s in your best interest to seek professional assistance. And although their services aren’t free, the costs of quality tax preparation services are often offset by the money they save you.
Where Taxpayers Can Find Help
The IRS website has a searchable directory of qualified providers, to help you find the right kind of tax help. But there’s one important thing to remember. Any tax preparation service that charges a fee for doing a federal return is required to have a valid Preparer’s Tax Identification Number (PTIN), so be sure to ask for this number before hiring anyone.
Also, no matter what tax company you consider hiring, it’s important to ask about any hidden fees you might be charged for their services. Among the most common of these ‘junk fees’ is a documentation or application preparation fee. If you’re uncomfortable with anything you find out, don’t hesitate to go elsewhere.
Four Things to Consider Before Making a Decision
Here are four factors you should take into account before you even start looking for tax preparation services:
You might be able to have your taxes prepared for free. Typically, this applies to people with low to moderate levels of income and/or anyone over 50 years old. The Tax-Aide Service offered by the AARP Foundation can pair qualifying persons with volunteers who have been trained to work with the 1040 Form as well as A and B schedules.
You can also get help from a Certified Public Accountant. In addition to checking the IRS page, you should also contact your state’s CPA Association to find the right tax assistance. But not every CPA specializes in individual income tax returns, so be sure to ask about their areas of expertise.
Hiring an enrolled agent is another good option. Unlike CPAs, enrolled agents focus exclusively on preparing taxes. Enrolled agents have to fulfill one of two requirements. They either have to have five years’ experience working for the IRS or passed a series of exams on tax codes and calculations. You can check the National Association of Enrolled Agents website to search for a qualified agent.
Lastly, national tax preparation chains are sometimes a good option. As long as your tax situation is fairly straightforward, the walk-in services at companies like Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax Services, and H&R Block offer affordable ways to help with your taxes.
The most important thing to remember is you don’t have to handle your taxes alone. There are many good reasons to use professional tax preparation services these days. And by following these simple directions, you’ll be able to use them to your advantage.
About Zach Inghram
Zach Inghram is a CPA and holds a BBA in accounting from Loyola University Chicago. He has a diverse professional background having held analyst, accountant, and audit roles within the insurance, infrastructure services, and oil & gas industries. As the sole proprietor of Inghram CPA, he provides tax and bookkeeping services locally in the Austin, TX area and remotely around the country. His clients commonly remark that he holds himself to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and professionalism. In his free time, he and his wife enjoy being outdoors hiking, camping, gardening, and fishing.