In a world that is largely digital, filing taxes can still be a time-consuming burden. How do you know you’re getting the best deductions and the biggest tax refund? Fortunately, with some quick questions, you can pick the choice that works best for you at the lowest possible cost.
Considerations For Choosing Your Tax Preparation Solution
Each person’s tax needs are unique, so no one choice is best for everyone. Still, the types of questions that will form your selection criteria will remain similar.
Convenience – you may value the convenience of picking an option that will hand off the work to someone else entirely. If you are busy or not competent about filing yourself, convenience might be more important to you than price.
Flexibility – if you’re looking for a solution that lets you handle your taxes from the convenience of your home and at your own pace. You might want to look for a solution that lets you save your work and come back to it again later.
Speed – the amount of time to file as well as the turnaround for your refund, if any, may be a big consideration. Be aware that no one can get you your return faster using the same method, but different payment types result in different wait times. Time to file will also impact your overall speed when dealing with taxes. Consider the time for preparation, submission, and response.
Price – you want to minimize your cost to file your taxes so you don’t cut into any refund due to you. Likewise, if you have a balance for your taxes, you don’t want to increase the effective price paid due to the tax preparation costs. Different needs alter the cost within each service option, depending on upsold services and packaging.
Complexity – your tax situation directly impacts what tax preparations are viable for you. Things like investment income and small/home business income can require a professional with extra experience or a higher tier of software. You have more flexibility if your taxes are uncomplicated.
Tax Preparation Options
There are several main categories of tax preparation options. Here are some of the most popular:
Retail Tax Services offer brick and mortar locations with staff who you can see in person to help file your taxes. They likely offer the convenience of a close by location. Look for competitive offers between different companies looking to earn your business. You’ll likely see coupons in the mail from these players. If you choose to go this route, you can expect the peace of mind of collecting your documents and handing them off to someone else, but you may pay more money than other options. Staff are not necessarily be more proficient than alternatives, and your return may not be given special attention.
CPA – a certified public accountant may be of assistance if your tax situation is more complicated. You will receive the assurance that your taxes are handled by a trained professional who is competent. If you’re really valuing the opportunity to bring up questions and deal with someone face-to-face, a CPA may really be attractive to you. While a CPA may seem like a more expensive alternative, you can rest assured your return is accurate because it is being signed off by that person, who will take responsibility for any errors. This may be overkill if your taxes are not complicated.
Tax Filing Software are attractive solutions since they put you directly in control of filing your taxes. Often cryptic tax forms are explained more clearly, often in the form of a questionnaire. Good tax preparation software will explain the different types of deductions you may be eligible for, and will question you about recent life events that may impact your taxes, like a job change, move, marriage, home purchase or birth of a child. If you want oversight over your taxes with the flexibility to work on them off and on, you’ll find tax software to be a comfortable choice. Some choices include phone support from professionals. Beware of different pricing based on the needs of your tax return (investment and business information, etc).
The Best Tax Filing Choice
The top choice for your situation is up to debate, but you likely have a good idea of what is most attractive to you. If you’re accustomed to having your taxes done by a retail company, you might find filing your taxes is easier than you think! Keep in mind the fastest way to file your taxes is electronically and that your quickest refund method is direct deposit. Best of luck with your taxes this year!