Making the decision of who will be responsible for your taxes this year.
With the dreaded April 15 looming overhead and Uncle Sam knocking on your door, you may find yourself scrambling to get your taxes done. But before you can dot the Is and cross the Ts, you want to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your tax return buck.
How can you ensure your taxes are done accurately and to your greatest benefit? By using the right tools or figuring out who should use them for you. If you’re not sure if you should handle your taxes all by your lonesome, get some software help, or hire a pro, read on to begin to get a grip on this year’s tax situation.
Doing It Alone
Taxes may be daunting for some people, but not for you. In fact, you laugh in the face of tax season. As you flex your taxable muscles, losses and gains run away screaming. Okay, so you may not think tax season is a joke, but you have pretty straightforward taxes. You work one job, aren’t married, and didn’t win the lottery in the last 12 months. Knocking out your taxes requires one simple form and only takes an hour. Why pay someone for this?
Of course, you may want to do your taxes on your own because you enjoy the process. You work a job that requires a lot of interaction with the general public, and there is something cathartic about crunching numbers all by your lonesome. Just remember that even you can make mistakes, so you may want to have a close friend or family member run over your return before sending it off to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
You and the CPU
Prefer the feeling of a computer keyboard in your hand when working away? Then you may want to go online and download some software or head to your local electronic store for some tax software. Either way, computer-based tax programs have the same goal: make your tax preparation experience simple and help you get the biggest return possible.
Online tax preparation is a great option for a variety of people. Whether you have simple taxes that would be just as easy on paper, have a full-time job and a small business on the side, or make your money from a number of different ventures, tax software makes it possible to do your taxes on your own without relying on your own know-how. Instead, the program will ask you helpful questions along the way, prodding you to filling out forms that may help you get a bigger return – forms you may have ignored if left all on your own. Use the right computer software and you even have the option of having an accountant go through your return to make sure everything is legal and in order.
Lean on a Pro
For some people, the thought of sitting around, adding and subtracting and subtracting and adding leads to nausea. Others have such a complicated tax situation that starting and finishing their own taxes within a single year is virtually impossible. For both of these people, turning to a certified accountant is the only way to ensure proper tax preparation.
But before you run out to the nearest tax preparing station near you, there are a few things to consider. How experienced is your potential preparer? Is there any guarantee that you will get the largest refund possible, or are you potentially going to find out you could have gotten more a few months later?
Answering these questions and finding an accountant you trust will help as you make your way toward tax season relaxation.
More than likely, you’ll never be audited by the IRS. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. After all, it is much better to prepare your taxes as if you will be audited than to run to and fro trying to gather all necessary documentation in the event you are audited.
Here are three tips to help you prepare your taxes in an audit-ready way.
- Maintain meticulous records regarding all of your income – including any inheritance, trusts, or other money you may receive.
- Keep all of your tax records for a minimum of three years. This includes receipts, medical bills, and record of any deduction you claim.
- If the IRS ever contacts you to perform an audit, contact your local tax professional. In the event you did your taxes on your own, this would be a good time to develop a relationship with a local tax pro.