Filing your taxes can be a hairy endeavor, especially if you try to prepare them yourself. There are lengthy forms to fill out, laws to understand, and plenty of paperwork and information to gather. Sometimes doing your own taxes seems like a headache that just isn’t worth it. That makes hiring a Southern Utah professional tax preparer even more appealing to many of us (especially if you own a business).
When you finally decide to go with a tax professional, you might have a lot of questions. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who are trained to answer those questions and take care of the filings for you. However, before you choose a tax preparer and begin the filing process, there are a few things you should consider.
The main reason you aren’t doing your own taxes is because you want them to be done accurately, right? That makes it imperative that you choose a qualified and reputable tax professional to handle the process. Before agreeing to work anyone, makes sure you look into their background and experience. You should know:
- How long they’ve been in business
- How many returns they have filed
- What kind of training courses they’ve taken
- How long it’s been since their training
- How available are they to you to answer questions
- Will they help you if your return is audited
- If there are any complaints against them (check the Better Business Bureau)
Do some research online, ask for referrals, and make sure you feel good about the tax preparer you hire. Also, make sure you’re aware of their fees. Usually, fees will vary depending on how complex your return is. However, it should never be based on the size of your return — that’s illegal.
Be aware that there could be extra charges for optional services, such as RALs (refund anticipation loans), additional IRS submissions, electronic filing, or expedited refunds.
Before you visit with your tax professional, you’ll need the right documentation. You may have to ask your employer or check your mail for 1099’s or documents from your bank. This list doesn’t include everything you might need, but it’s a good place to start:
- Last year’s tax return
- Copies of cancelled checks for tax deductible payments (medical and child care bills, business expenses, moving expenses, business travel and more)
- Cancelled checks and/or receipts for tax deductible charitable donations
- Statements or receipts for mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and business-related transportation or entertainment expenses
- Social security information for yourself, spouse, and any dependents (physical cards will help avoid errors)
- Any mail or tax information you’ve received during the year from the IRS
- Your employer-issued W-2 forms detailing income and tax withholdings
- Statements of other income, such as 1099s, or other documents from financial institutions you’ve dealt with during the year
But What If I Owe?
Another thing to remember is that if you owe taxes that year, you are still required to file, even if you can’t afford to pay now. Your accountant can help you file IRS form 9465, which requests an installment plan. These installment plans are relatively simple to obtain.
Ready to File? Not So Fast
No matter which preparer you settle on and how confident you are in their ability, you should always review your tax return to ensure it’s error-free. Even an honest mistake can cost you more or get you into hot water. Never sign off on your documentation until you are sure it’s 100% accurate, and make sure you receive a copy of every filing. With a qualified tax professional by your side, your tax burden will often be smaller, and the burden of filing can be lightened considerably.