Tax season is here, and tax payers all over the country are stressing out over new laws and filing deadlines. It can cause a lot of stress, especially for anyone who isn't as knowledgeable about the many intricacies of tax laws. Everyone must file taxes, so you have two options. You can file yourself, or you can seek a tax professional to help you file. The choice is yours, and you always have the right to file your own taxes, but you may end up saving yourself a lot of headaches down the road should you choose a professional this year.
New Tax Laws
There are new tax laws popping up every year, and many changes to existing laws as well. Unless you make a habit of reading the IRS website regularly, chances are that you aren't as familiar with all of these changes as a qualified professional may be. You could spend hours and hours catching up on all the changes this year, or you could simply hire someone to do it correctly for you the first time.
Penalties And Fees
Remember that you could be liable for several thousand dollars in penalties and fees should you file incorrectly, have mistakes on your return or, worse yet, knowingly commit tax fraud. You may be worried about the cost of hiring a professional, but the money you could potentially save in fees and fines may be worth the peace of mind.
When you decide to walk into a tax professional's office for the first time, make sure to do your homework and prepare everything ahead of time. After all, you're paying this person for his or her time, so the more efficient you can be, the less you will be spending. Bring all your W2s, 1099s and other tax forms, but also remember to bring along your charitable donation receipts and ledger (if you keep one). Don't forget things like your family's personal information, social security numbers and birth dates. And be sure to remember all those other tax forms like your property tax statement, mortgage tax payments, student loan information, etc. The more you can organize yourself up-front, the better prepared you'll be when you sit down in that office.
How To Find A Professional
The task of actually finding a qualified tax preparer can be almost as daunting as the tax forms themselves. Luckily, the IRS takes tax preparation very seriously, and offers great resources for finding a tax professional. You can check different preparer's credentials online here, as the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers is public information. You can also learn about the types of qualifications you should be seeking, as well as the different skill levels that will be useful to your specific situation.
It doesn't happen often, but occasionally someone winds up falling for an unscrupulous tax preparer, or you may have a complaint or concern about a preparer's work. If that happens, the IRS is committed to investigating any paid tax return preparers. You can file a formal complaint online if you've been financially impacted by a tax preparer's conduct or practices.
For more Tax Day tips, click here.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
for more features.