Taxes With Accountants vs. Taxes Online

by Susan Reynolds

You have two choices when it comes to paying your taxes: Use an accountant or e-file with software by yourself. E-filing is convenient and inexpensive, but accountants offer face-to-face advice and extra help with complicated tax situations. Which type of tax return preparation you choose largely depends on your type of employment or business.

Cost

It is usually cheaper to do your taxes yourself with online programs. For military personnel or those who make less than $31,000 a year, there are free online tax returns that cost nothing to use and file. Regular online tax returns cost anywhere from $14 to $100. Accountants normally charge at least $100 for a tax return. They may charge extra fees for making and mailing tax return copies later in the year, e-filing, consultations or audit protection.

Time

An accountant can save you a lot of time by doing your taxes for you. This applies to big business owners and those with multiple assets or recent life changes such as marriage or divorce. On the other hand, if you are an employee with only one job or a self-employed worker, you may find it simple to do your own taxes online. It shouldn't take more than an hour or two for an employee without major life changes or assets to fill out a tax form.

Deductions

Business owners who have several employees may need more assistance than an online tax program can give. The reason is that businesses have unique situations that impact their taxes. A live accountant can also help you find the most deductions for your specific business. New business owners may need help figuring out their tax deductions. On the other hand, a seasoned business owner who is used to doing her own taxes may find it cheaper to file taxes online.

Audit Protection

Many online tax return programs offer some sort of audit protection or support. Some online tax services claim to help you reduce your chances of getting audited. It may cost extra for these services. About 1 percent of tax returns are audited every year, according to TurboTax. Offered services may include figuring out why the IRS audited you and preparing yourself for the actual audit.

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