A tax accountant is a professional who specializes in filing tax returns for both individuals and businesses. At the beginning of each year, the IRS requires you to file your taxes, and a tax accountant can help you do just that.
Choosing the Right Tax Accountant
The tax accountant you choose should be familiar with the rules of the IRS. He or she should have the proper education and knowledge to produce an accurate tax return. To find a tax accountant, check your local yellow pages or ask friends and family for recommendations. You can also conduct a search online.
Make sure you take your time to find the right tax accountant for your needs. Some tax accountants specialize in certain areas, so if you have a special need, you should look into a tax accountant's expertise or specialty. When choosing a tax accountant, you shouldn't be afraid to ask questions. Ask what associations he belongs to and how long he has been in business. Associations are important because accountants must adhere to strict moral and ethical guidelines or they risk losing their license to practice.
Also, you want to know who will be preparing the actual return. A busy tax accountant may pass on your tax documents to a less-skilled person, or send it to an offshore tax preparation center.
Watch out for a tax accountant who makes exaggerated claims. Some less ethical tax accountants will make promises of bigger tax refunds than you're owed, or guarantee a specific amount without looking at your documents. There are tax accountants who might charge more than a qualified competitor, or charges a percentage of your tax refund as his fee. You should avoid these types of tax accountants whenever possible.
The key is finding a competent tax accountant. Even though your tax accountant completes your returns for you, you are still liable for the information he puts on your returns. Any inaccurate information is your responsibility, so make sure you go to a reputable tax accountant. You should also review your tax returns before the accountant files them.
An Alternative to Tax Accountants
If you'd rather not pay a tax accountant's fees, you can always file your taxes on your own. In fact, it is easy to complete your own tax return if you choose the right option.
Thanks to the Internet, you can now complete and file your tax returns online by using tax preparation software programs. Filing your taxes online is not only quicker, but it's much easier than filling out paper forms. The instructions are simple, and you are guided throughout the whole process. All you have to do is enter information from your W2s and other documents when asked. You fill in the blanks and click a button. It will even check for errors and help you find deductions! It's like having a tax accountant at your side for a fraction of a professional's fees.
As the busy tax season swings into gear, you need to decide if you need a tax accountant, or would settle for a qualified alternative.