(ARA) - What is your time worth to you? It is a good question to ask yourself when it comes to preparing tax returns. According to government statistics, the average 2003 itemized tax return with interest and dividends took 28 hours and 30 minutes to prepare. Surprised?
Each year, federal income taxes increase in size and difficulty. Each year tax software packages get better, but even using software programs require time. Plus, the outcome is directly related to information being entered correctly by the taxpayer. To save you from stress, the services of a paid professional may be something to consider this year.
Average costs to have an individual tax return prepared range roughly from $150 to $450, depending on complexity. Professional tax preparers stay abreast of tax law changes, are familiar with software glitches, and have insight about frequently overlooked deductions. This year, many tax returns will be directly affected by new legislation signed by the President in two recent tax bills. Tax preparers have studied and equipped themselves to work with the latest guidelines. Often, consulting a tax preparer not only pays for itself, but offers you a learning experience that will help you better structure your financial matters for future savings. Many tax professionals are very good financial advisors. All of these considerations enter into the "Do I or Don't I?" equation. However, it mostly comes down to the investment of time versus money.
Assess Your Needs
Several elements factor into the type of professional that is best for you. Just as it is not a good idea to hire a home repair contractor or a nanny without doing some personal needs assessments and careful investigation, it is never a wise idea to hire a tax professional without doing the same thing. Just as importantly, never base your decision solely on cost. Compare what services are available and included, as well as how the professional meets your personal expectations. These factors will help you determine where you will receive the most value for your dollar.
Hire a Preparer
To hire a tax preparer, consider: