Host: What are the options to prepare my tax return?
Aurthur Auerbach: Taxpayers have several options to prepare their tax returns. Obviously, the first one is to engage a CPA like myself. You can go to a CPA firm to get your tax return prepared. Depending upon when the individual is going to start this process in the tax filing season between January and April, questions that you might want to ask any firm you hire is how quickly they can turn your forms around so that you can get taxes filed on time. If the individual shows up late at a CPA firm you may be told that they will only do this on an extension and therefore, you are filing is going to be delayed somewhat. So ask some questions when you hire a tax professional and also ask obviously, the amount of the fee, how much they estimate they are going to be charging you because that maybe a determining factor for some taxpayers to make the decision.
The second one is to go to other licensed professionals like Enrolled Agents. They have taken an exam that the Internal Revenue Service gives. They are capable of preparing tax returns and the same questions follow, how quickly can they do the return? How much are they going to charge you to do this? Are they going to be able to file electronically or is it only going to be in paper?
The next methodology that a taxpayer might use is to go out and purchase their own program and there are several programs out there too that come to mind are Turbo Tax from into it and Tax Cut which is the H&R Block Program to do it yourself. Now if that's the methodology that you want to choose, one of the first things I would suggest that you do before you get started is to go on the web and get yourself a tax glossary.
The problem that I have found over 40 years of practice is most people do not understand the tax terminology. Tax is a different language then you normally use in conversations at a party or a get together. So it's very important to understand what the program is asking you when you buy it, just what do they want as a response because like anything else, using a computer it's GIGO when you put garbage in you are going to get garbage out and you are not going to get a useable tax return to file.
If your income is under $54,000 on a return that would be together on a joint return or singly and it's less than that amount of money you really don't need to pay anybody to do your return or buy a program. You can go to the Internal Revenue Services website www.irs.gov and on the left hand side of the screen there is a logo for something called free file. When you click on free file that is an electronic program, you just follow the prompts on the program, enter the information as it is required and you will be able to file your tax return electronically and most of the states that have income taxes have signed on to that program as well. So with a one stop shopping you will be able to file your Federal and your State tax return at one time.