The television ads say that it does not take a genius to do your taxes. Are they correct? It does not take a genius to do a lot of things. There are three reasons that people “do it yourself”
- They want to save money. Think of the last time you did a home repair to save money? Did it turn out as great as you wanted or was it just ok. Is that what you want for your taxes? An ok job. If you want better than ok, you may want to hire a professional.
- They have always done it that way. My husband had always fixed our cars when we first met. He hated it but he had just always done it that way. It has made both of us much happier that we have found an amazing mechanic. I know it is done right and will not break on me when the kids are in the car and he knows the same. Not to mention, he does not have to get covered in car dirt and take 4x longer than needed to complete the job. Do you want your taxes to take hours and cause you stress? Do you want to worry for years that they may have been done wrong? If not, you may want to hire a professional.
- They love to do it. Do you love taxes? Do you spend hours upon hours reading the over 170,000 pages of tax code? Do you know the ins and outs of The Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). If not, you may want to consider a professional.
So Now you have decided to hire a professional, GrEAt choice! The next question is: How do I choose the right one? Here are a few guidelines:
- Are they licensed? When you are looking for a contractor or handyman, what is the first thing you ask? Are they licensed and bonded? Sure an unlicensed electrician can fix your wiring, but what happens if something goes wrong? I will tell you, insurance will not cover it. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with taxes. Significantly reduce this risk by hiring a licensed professional. Look for CPA, EA, or JD (lawyer) after their name. If they do not have these, the IRS says that they are not licensed. Any issues that come up are 100% on you. Or you can hire one of the above to help you handle those issues as well but just like a home repair that you did yourself, it will cost a lot more to fix the error, than it would have to pay for it the first time.
- Do they carry Errors & Omissions Insurance? Seems like a simple thing right? Pay for insurance to fix the mistakes we make. I hate to admit it, but even I have made mistakes. When I do, I own it and I fix it. Sometimes that means a hefty check. For that, I carry errors and omissions insurance. Ask them the name of the company. If you recognize it, they probably do not have it. There are only a few companies that will write an E&O policy for tax preparers and Farmers, State Farm, American Family, Progressive, ect are not among them.
- How many hours of Continuing Education did they do last year? What were they in? I do an average of 80 ours of continuing education (CE) per year. This CE is exclusively in how to deal with the IRS and in-depth knowledge of the tax laws. A CPA can do their CE in a variety of areas that may or may not include a tax update. Ask for their list of classes they took. Evaluate them for yourselves and see what you think. Would you hire someone to fix your computer who took a bunch of classes in solar panel repair? Make sure that they are relevant and current.
- Where can you find them after tax season is over? How long have they been in business? There are many different types of tax preparers. Some work from home, some do it on the side because they think it is easy, and others choose to do it full time. Again, would you hire a contractor to build your dream home that only builds one house a year? Probably not. Look for those professionals with a proven track record. If you have an issue, it will be from August to December, make sure you know that you can get a hold of them.
- Finally, do you see the person as someone you can build a relationship with. Taxes can change from year to year. There are a lot of decisions made that have tax consequences. As a professional I would prefer that you call me first. Most people are creatures of habit. Make tax time easy by choosing a professional who you can work with. Build that long lasting relationship and tax time will be like catching up with a friend.
If you have read this and you would like to choose me grEAt. You can schedule the best appointment for you at Implextax.com. Just click the “make an appointment button” or call 8018499699. You can also email me and we can do your taxes virtually. I hope to hear from you soon.
Jennifer Brown EA
Enrolled to Practice before the IRS