file taxes online or with a tax professional

07 Feb

Should You File Taxes Online or With a Tax Professional?

As life events, circumstances and living situations change and evolve, the question “should I file taxes online or with a tax professional” should be asked every year. It’s important to constantly evaluate whether or not you need help with your taxes or not.

Here are a few questions to ask to help you evaluate whether or not you should file taxes online or with a tax professional this tax season.

Is your tax situation simple, or unchanged from previous years?

If you are single with one job, are making less than $66,000, and have no investments aside from a 401(k), your tax situation is fairly simple. You may benefit from doing your taxes online yourself. You can even file for free through IRS Free File online.

Even if you are married, if your financial situation is simple and straightforward, doing taxes yourself may be quicker, easier and cheaper than hiring a professional.

Do you own any property or investments?

If you own any retirement accounts, a home or other properties, it might be beneficial to look into getting a professional’s help. A tax professional stays up-to-date on all available tax credits, deductions and exemptions that could benefit you.

Do you understand the tax verbiage and basic jargon?

If you can confidently navigate your way around the IRS website, know where to find the information you need and have a firm grasp on tax jargon, you can probably file for y

What does your budget look like?

The cost of using online tax filing software ranges anywhere from free to $100, depending on the system and your unique filing needs. Using a CPA can cost even more than that, but you’re paying for expertise, better software, and a trained eye handling the entire process. It all comes down to what’s worth it for you.

What kind of time crunch are you under?

If you waited until the last minute to do your taxes, you may have no choice but to file yourself online. Typically, a tax professional could take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on how busy they are. When choosing a tax professional to do your taxes, be sure to book their services well in advance.

When it all comes down to it…

You have to weigh your knowledge and understanding of the tax system and IRS regulations against the complexity of your financial status, your budget, your needs and your schedule. If you have the time and the budget and want to save yourself the headache, you could opt for a tax professional. If your tax filing status is simple and clear-cut and you’re confident you can navigate an online software with ease, you could try online filing.