Pros and Cons of Hiring a Tax Professional in 2024

As tax season rolls around, you might be checking your inbox or actual mail for your W-2 form and 1099s from earned interest and side gigs. While some people eagerly await a tax refund shortly after they file, others stress about filing their returns, concerned about a large tax bill.

Even if you believe you’re getting money back, filing tax forms can induce headaches, stress, and questions:

  • What if you make an error or a typo?
  • Did you claim all the deductions you deserve?
  • Did you remember to include all your taxable income?
  • What tax software should you use to e-file?

How a Tax Professional Can Help

Here at Alleviate Tax, we understand. Many individuals owe back taxes they can’t pay or have late or missing tax returns. We understand the worry, shame, and stress that comes with a bad tax situation or mounds of tax debt.

Whatever your tax situation, a tax professional can provide expertise that gives you peace of mind. Let’s explore the benefits of hiring a tax professional, potential drawbacks, and how to find the right one.

Pros of Hiring a Tax Professional

Hiring a tax professional is a time saving, sanity saving decision.

A tax accountant, IRS enrolled agent, or professional tax preparer studies the tax code and understands the laws. They should know every deduction and credit you can claim to help you save money.

Let’s look at the potential benefits of hiring a tax company in 2024.

Save Time

Even if you’re familiar with how to file your taxes, it’s still a time consuming process.

Let’s consider other examples from everyday life. For instance, you may not think twice about hiring someone to landscape your yard or change the oil in your car.

These people are experts and can complete these tasks quickly and more efficiently than you can. Taxes are much more complicated; it pays to leave the work to a professional.

Tax professionals spend a lot of time staying up to date on the latest tax codes, rules, and what’s tax deductible or not. The energy they invest in their tax business saves you time in the long run.

Most tax appointments for W-2 employees filing a straightforward 1040 form last about an hour or less. If you try to do your taxes yourself, you could spend hours – or days – choosing the right software and punching in numbers. And you won’t know if you did it right.

Reduce Stress

A tax preparer does more than enter numbers into the computer. Having a professional by your side offers emotional support during a stressful time. If you owe the IRS money you can’t afford, a tax professional can talk you through payment plans or settlement options.

Depending on their field of expertise, they can also discuss your options to reduce next year’s tax liability.

Potentially Receive a Larger Refund

Tax professionals understand all the deductions and tax credits businesses and individuals can claim. They know how to legally and ethically reduce your tax bill so you can keep more of your earnings.

Even with the costs associated with getting tax help, you might come out ahead with a hefty refund.

Audit Representation

Using a tax professional reduces the chances of a filing mistake that could lead to an audit. However, it doesn’t make your tax returns entirely audit-proof.

Taxpayers get audited because something on their tax return looks suspicious, fraudulent, or wrong. Common reasons include trying to claim deductions you don’t qualify for, discrepancies between 1099 forms and reported income, or suspicious business loss claims.

A good tax accountant will know the actions that trigger an audit and can help you avoid them.

In a worst-case scenario, tax preparers, IRS enrolled agents, and certified public accountants can represent their clients in an audit. After all, they filed the returns; they know how to defend the numbers.

Even with audit representation from a professional, you’re not off the hook. If you owe money or face jail time, you’re the one who pays. But it helps to have someone in your corner defending you.

Deduct the Fees of Tax Prep

You can deduct the cost of tax prep on next year’s return If you itemize deductions rather than taking the standard deduction of $13,850 (single filers) or $27,700 (married, filing jointly).

Simplify Tax Season

If you have complicated returns, it’s even more important to seek professional help. Consider hiring a tax pro If you have:

  • A small business
  • 1099 income
  • Real estate investments
  • Capital gains or losses from investments
  • Taxable retirement income
  • Forgiven debt that may be taxable

Tax returns requiring this level of detail can lead to confusion or mistakes if you don’t have the education and experience to file such a complicated return.

Cons of Hiring a Tax Professional

It might sound like hiring a tax pro is the best solution for virtually anyone who needs to file tax returns in 2024. But there are some drawbacks to consider.

May Cost More Than Filing Yourself

If you have a fairly straightforward tax return, you can file electronically at no cost through the IRS Free File program. But there’s a catch.

Individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than $79,000 can file using a basic, fillable form. You won’t receive any tax guidance and you’ll have to do some of the calculations yourself. You cannot file your state taxes through this program.

If you make $79,000 or less, you may qualify to use the free Guided Tax Software, provided through trusted IRS partners. You can also choose a partner that offers free state tax prep and filing.

Similarly, the IRS VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) offers free, professional tax help to the following taxpayers:

  • People who make $64,000 or less
  • Persons with a disability
  • People who aren’t comfortable filing in English

Do-it-yourself tax software also remains an affordable option. But be careful to choose the right software.

The FTC recently ruled that TurboTax can no longer market its software as “free” when most consumers don’t qualify for the free version. Intuit spokesperson Derrick L. Plummer told NPR.org that Intuit, makers of TurboTax, were appealing the decision.

However, there are many free services that will assist in online tax prep. You can choose from some of the best tax and accounting software programs, and most will be less expensive than hiring a preparer.

Requires Advance Planning

The best tax preparers and CPAs book up quickly during tax season. You may want to make an appointment now. Of course, that also means planning ahead to gather all your tax paperwork. You’ll need:

  • Your tax forms such as W-2s and 1099s.
  • Receipts or a list of deductions.
  • Social security numbers for yourself and any dependents.
  • Other details your preparer needs to complete your return.

Must Find a Reputable Tax Company

Hiring someone to help you file your taxes requires a lot of trust. Whether you hire a local firm or prefer to work virtually with your tax accountant, you need to find the right company.

Decide if you prefer a larger, national company or a local accountant. To find a tax pro near you:

  •    Read customer reviews
  •    Check Better Business Bureau ratings and resolved complaints
  •   Ask friends and family for recommendations
  •   Review their website: Do they appear knowledgeable and professional?

Back Taxes or Unfiled Returns? Let Alleviate Tax Help

If you owe back taxes, have unresolved tax debt, or are being charged penalties for unfiled returns, Alleviate Tax can help.

Reach out online or by phone to get started changing your financial situation now.

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