Here's why I think 5CentNickel has the right idea. First, he's taking the time to work through his tax situation, review his tax documents, and try his hand at tax software. Secondly, he will have a long list of excellent questions by the time he calls his tax pro. He will be able to hire just the right tax accountant by finding someone who has the experience to handle his tax situation. Thirdly, he'll be able to compare just how much money his tax accountant is saving him -- either by uncovering deductions or by finding mistakes that would result in penalties.
However, this strategy will increase the time it takes to finish your tax return, and may increase your costs. So here's some tips to save both time and money this tax season:
- Use free tax software. If you don't qualify for a free return, then start your tax prep using one of the top-rated tax prep software packages. You can print out a draft of your return, or a worksheet summarizing your tax situation, to hand to your preparer.
- Ask good questions when shopping for a new tax accountant. Since you already have an idea of how your taxes look, don't feel shy asking about deductions you have overlooked or tax documents you don't understand.
- Schedule an appointment for a time when your tax accountant isn't busy. Trust me on this one, your accountant will appreciate the break from the rush. Also, let your accountant know you would like a review of your tax return.
- Bring a copy of your tax data file with you. Some accountants can import data from popular tax software. Be sure to ask ahead of time. This will save your accountant time, and save you money on your invoice.