The requirement for a tax accountant is determined by your individual circumstances. If you are self-employed or suffered substantial life changes during the tax year, you should consult with an accountant. If you need to make changes to a previous year's tax return, you should consult with an accountant.
Many people discover that going to an accountant actually saves them money because their tax refund improves dramatically. However, there are times when you may prefer to file your return on your own.
Learn when you would (and would not) need an accountant and how their services might affect you in this article.
What to Consider
If you own your own business, are self-employed, have had substantial life changes such as a new house or a new baby, or if you've previously failed to file taxes, you may benefit from hiring an accountant;
If your tax position is straightforward and you do not have a spouse, dependents, a mortgage, or a business, you may be able to avoid hiring an accountant;
If you do not want to hire an accountant, you might use IRS Free File if your income qualifies, or you could use widely available tax preparation software.
When Do You Require the Services of an Accountant
A few scenarios will raise the possibility that you might be better off hiring an accountant than attempting to prepare your tax return on your own. If you have a challenging issue, there are usually benefits to consulting with an accountant.
You Run Your Own Company
If you are self-employed or operate your own business, hiring an accountant can help you file your taxes accurately and avoid making costly mistakes. Your accountant can also advise you on how much you should pay in quarterly anticipated tax payments in the future to avoid a large tax bill at filing time.
Business owners and many self-employed individuals face different obligations than normal W-2 employees. On earnings paid to an employee, for example, a company should withhold and pay income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes, as well as unemployment tax. You do not, however, have to withhold or pay taxes on payments made to independent contractors.
Significant Life Changes
Your tax situation will vary dramatically as you get older and your financial condition becomes more complicated. For example, if you buy your first home during the tax year, it will affect how you file. An accountant can ensure that you are taking advantage of all possible tax breaks and assist you in determining how to change your withholding to accommodate this.
If you got married, had a child, divorced, or started investing for the first time, a tax specialist can assist you in making tax changes. Again, you may only need to hire an accountant for the tax year in which these changes occur.
You Have Previously Failed To Pay
If you haven't filed appropriate tax returns in previous years, or if you owe unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a previous year and haven't made agreements with the IRS to handle that matter, contact a professional. A tax professional can assist you in filing multiple years' worth of tax returns and will be aware of the IRS programs available to people in this circumstance. They can point you in the right direction based on your financial condition.
If you satisfy the qualifying criteria, the IRS, for example, may be ready to work with you to set up a payment plan. It is beneficial to have an accountant work on your behalf to ensure that everything is filed appropriately as you strive to resolve the problem.
If you forgot to file previous years' taxes, you should consult with a tax attorney in addition to engaging an accountant, as this can be a serious matter. Your accountant may be able to recommend someone who specializes in situations like this.
When an Accountant Isn't Necessary
If the following conditions apply, you may not have a substantial need for an accountant:
Your tax position has not altered in the previous year;
You are unmarried and do not have children, thus you are not accountable for dependents;
You work at a company;
You have no real estate.
In the foregoing scenarios, your tax return would be rather simple, so you could get away with utilizing tax software or doing it yourself. If you don't have anything going on in your life that could complicate your tax situation, it might not be worth engaging a professional.
The bottom line
If you are unsure about your financial status or have issues regarding filing taxes, it never hurts to consult with a professional or certified public accountant (CPA). In some situations, they will answer your inquiries for free or at a low cost.