When should you turn to the pros to prepare your tax return?

December 12, 2014

When it comes to filling out taxes, the tiniest mistake can be costly. Still, many people do it themselves. So is it a wise move or wasted money to have pros prepare your tax return?

When should you turn to the pros to prepare your tax return?

If your sister’s a math whiz, you may think you can save money at tax time by having her fill out your return. Or, maybe you prefer to do it yourself. After all, tax software is simple to use and your situation’s probably not all that complicated, right?

  • But are you sure it’s that simple? Your sister may not be familiar with all the tax deductions, exemptions and credits.
  • What's more, your software won't know your personal circumstances.
  • Tax experts, however, do know what questions to ask and how to match up your situation with the tax credits for which you qualify.

The top experts in tax returns

You have to be able to trust the person who takes care of your taxes. The slightest mistake can have serious consequences. (Tax audit, anyone?) Having your return done by a tax expert will help you reduce the risk of problems later on.

So, where to find one of these top experts? At an accounting firm that specializes in taxes!

  • Accountants are your best bet if you have a remotely complicated situation, because they know tax law and all the exemptions concerning personal situations, and commercial ones, too.
  • Tax experts are able to suss out all the tax credits you can claim, and they can advise you on ways to reduce your tax load for next year as well.

What about tax preparers?

Having your income tax return filled out by a tax preparer lets you avoid all the paperwork involved. Most of them are competent and have taken some training in the field.

  • Bear in mind that tax preparers are not accountants. If you’re self-employed, a business owner, have multiple jobs or have undergone a change in marital status or family situation, it may be beneficial to bring your file to an accountant—even if it costs you a bit more in the short term.

Doing your taxes yourself

If you’re choosing to boldly embark on the great adventure of doing your taxes yourself, take a few precautions:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Prepare all the papers you need in advance and sit down to the job on a day when you’re sure not to be disturbed.
  • Visit the personal income tax pages on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website. This will help you become familiar with the tax credits that are available, as well as any new regulations.
  • If you’re using tax software, download any updates before starting.
  • Always print out a paper copy of your return before sending it electronically.

If it turns into a struggle, it’s never too late to hire a tax expert. The main thing is to get it done—and done right.

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