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June 29 2012
Do I really need an experienced CPA to prepare my taxes?

Posted in general

It is interesting that people will go to a physician annually for a physical but they do not use a CPA for tax preparation. What we do is much more than just preparing tax returns. We seek to develop relationships. We seek to help clients manage their withholdings. We are available year round to help answer questions, questions that are more easily answered when we are already familiar with your tax situation. Tax time should not be a time for surprises but a time for finishing up your plan for last year and formulating your plan for the current year. This is an opportunity for an annual financial checkup.

A CPA offers experience that most people who choose to prepare their own returns don't have. This experience comes from having prepared thousands of tax returns. People who don't prepare as many returns are more likely to make mistakes. When the IRS discovers a mistake they will contact the taxpayer. Correcting the mistake can be time consuming and expensive since the IRS charges penalties and interest if money is owed to them. On more than one occassion I've had new clients who came to me after having to pay penalties and interest to the IRS or State on honest mistakes they made. These costs could have paid for professional preparation for five years or more.

CPAs are required to stay current with tax law. The tax law changes every year and sometimes will change one year and then change back a few years later. Most CPAs will spend time each year at a conference on tax law changes and then countless hours throughout the year reading technical journals that discuss tax and accounting topics. This allows us to stay more up to date and to assist during tax planning. It also creates an atmosphere that promotes your receiving all deductions available to you and therefore minimizing your tax liability.

People who prepare their own returns can never know for sure that they have done it correctly. Even answering a series of questions can not guarantee it has been done correctly. Answering a question that is vague could lead you down a path that never asks the question to which you really know the answer. When using big box tax preparation services you do not know the experience of your individual preparer and you do not typically have access to that preparer after April 15th. Using an experienced CPA you have more of a human element to make sure you have answered those questions correctly and you know they are available throughout the year.

So, yes, you really do need a CPA. No matter how simple your information may appear you need someone with experience to guide you through the process. Someone you feel comfortable with who can create peace and serenity in an otherwise chaotic process. Someone who is there year round to answer your questions. And someone who will help you, not only with last year, but also with this year and for many years to come.

Last Updated by Admin on 2012-06-29 10:31:15 AM