Should I Use Professional Tax Services or Prepare My Own Return?

Nov 19, 2013 11:21:57 AM / by Dave Boelman

DIY Tax Return

Whether you should enlist professional tax services for the preparation of your tax return or prepare the forms yourself depends largely upon the complexity of your return and the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to completing the task yourself.  Consider the factors below when deciding whether hiring a professional is the best choice for you.  If you decide to go with a professional in Des Moines, consider Boelman Shaw Tax & Financial Planning.  Dave Boelman and Jason Shaw are CPAs with over 20 years of experience.  We provide professional tax planning, preparation, and IRS representation.

Simple Returns

For a single person with a simple and straightforward tax picture, self-preparation can make a lot of sense.  It is not worth the cost of hiring a professional preparer to simply plug numbers into a spreadsheet.  The widespread availability of tax preparation software makes it easy to minimize basic mistakes, and the time burden of a 1040A or 1040EZ is not particularly onerous.

More Complex Returns

If, on the other hand, you itemize deductions, own a business, or have other factors that complicate your filing process, preparing your own taxes can take up a great deal of your time.  The IRS posted the chart below on its website in reference to filing 2012 returns.

Estimated Average Taxpayer Burden for Individuals by Activity

The IRS estimated the total time to file an average 1040 at 23 hours for 2021, including record keeping, planning, and form completion. Even if you are willing to dedicate the time necessary to completing your taxes yourself, it is wise to consult a professional if you have any questions at all about what you must report, how to report it, or what deductions or credits you are entitled to claim.  With our constantly evolving tax code, the answers to those kinds of questions can be elusive. Forbes magazine reported in January of this year that Congress had made nearly 5000 tax law changes in 2001.  A professional tax preparer can help you sort through the legal labyrinth of modern tax codes and understand your tax obligations and your benefits.  Having a qualified professional on your side to clarify legal gray areas can make professional tax services well worth the cost, as you can save money both by ensuring that you claim all of the benefits to which are entitled and by avoiding the penalties involved with errors you might make in your own favor.  If you hire a professional who offers tax planning as well as preparation, you gain the added benefit of advice on structuring your finances in ways that can minimize your tax obligation in future years.

Know Your Professional

If you decide that using a professional tax service is the best choice for you this year, research the professionals you are considering to ensure that they are knowledgeable and competent.  At the very least, your preparer should have a Preparer Tax Identification Number.  Look into the preparer’s education and professional history.  

Tax and accounting services provided through Boelman Shaw & Company, LLC. Advisory services provided through BSC Capital Partners, LLC a state of Iowa registered investment advisor.

Topics: Tax Services

Written by Dave Boelman