It's beginning to look a lot like... tax preparation season. Your mailboxes are flooded with documents in January: 1099s from different sources, W-2s and other forms.
You collect everything you think you need in one place for when you're ready to get started working on your 2016 return. You're planning to use Turbotax or other, similar tax-preparation software. Great idea, in some respects: but in others, you might end up shortchanging yourself. Do you know all the new tax laws that may apply to you?
Why you need a tax professional
- You're too busy. Simply setting all the paperwork aside in an organized fashion won't get the taxes done in time. There are new laws to be aware of, and looking up various categories and details that may or may not apply to you can take a long time. And then there's our good friend: procrastination. (You can do it tomorrow, but you only have until April.)
- Your life changed a lot in the previous year. Whether it's a family change (separation, divorce, marriage, child) or career change (going from traditional to self-employment), it's going to make things more complicated than the year before. Have you lost a parent or other family member and received an inheritance? Did you buy a house?
- You own a business or rental property and your tax return is far from simple. The more complexity in your tax situation, the more you need help from someone who asks the right questions, specific to your business. If you need to file a Schedule C as part of your return, it's definitely worth hiring a professional, according to an article from U.S. News & World Report. It doesn't mean that you'll run into problems with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), only that a Schedule C is not as straightforward as only filing a 1040.
- Speaking of the IRS, if you own a business and the thought of getting audited fills you with anxiety, you should hire a tax attorney. Audits aren't common, but when they affect a business, there's a lot on the line. If your taxes are prepared professionally, the preparer will be there for you during the audit. A tax attorney may even be able to meet with the IRS on your behalf. Wouldn't that be nice? (Or, at least nicer.)
Sometimes, filing taxes on your own just doesn't make sense. If you're in this situation, think about contacting a tax attorney to help navigate tax season before too much more time goes by.