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Posted by Jim McClaflin, EA, NTPI Fellow, CTRC

Get a Quality Accountant to Prepare Your Taxes

Get a Quality Accountant to Prepare Your Taxes

Taxation is never easy. And for many Americans, this year is even more difficult.

There are many general challenges between the mid-season changes to the tax code, the various incentive programs, and filing extensions. And if you've had weeks of pandemic-related unemployment benefits to justify either buying a home or refinancing in 2020 at historically low rates, your individual return may be even more difficult than usual.

Whatever the circumstances, choosing the right filing method can make it easier for you to navigate those fees. For some, online custom taxation software offers a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to get the job done smoothly. Others can benefit from the experience and knowledge that a tax preparer can provide.

Do you need an accountant to prepare your taxes?

The answer to this question is – maybe. Some cases (like when you have a super simple return) where an accountant is probably not needed. However, there are several benefits to working with an accountant that most people find worth it. While anyone can file their own taxes or use some other tax preparation solution, as they say, just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you need to do it.

Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring an Accountant.

Why use an accountant to prepare your taxes?


Practicing accountants must be licensed in their specific state. In order for an accountant to maintain this license, in general, they must do these things:

  • Complete a specified number of hours of continuing education (for example.

  • Take a course on the latest tax deductions).

  • Conduct their business according to specific standards.

These standards ensure that you receive quality services. If you have questions about the legitimacy of your accountant, you can contact your state's public accounting office and request information about your accountant.


Consistency and Stability

An accountant will be there for you year after year and practicing accountants are in it for the long term.

The doors are always open.

An accountant provides many types of financial services, not just taxes. Therefore, an accountant's doors are always open for questions about taxes, tax planning, and any help you may need.


Record Keeping

An accountant will keep your tax information the same way a doctor keeps a patient's medical records. Your accountant will act as your personal file over the years. You will also receive a copy of the return and supporting documents in an easy-to-save file if you wish. Digital formats are more and more common.

Tax Planning

The best part about getting an accountant is the tax planning advice they can offer throughout the year. A few tax measures you can take at the end of the year will save you hundreds of dollars in taxes. Tax preparation and software companies are not available to help you.


As mentioned earlier, an accountant is licensed by the state. They have passed numerous accounting courses, a difficult exam and must maintain continuing education credits each year. Only those who want to be professionals are ready to do what it takes to be an accountant.


Your Time

I won't lie when I say that you won't have to spend some time preparing your tax files to get them to an accountant. But these professionals will save you time to enter all the information and file your return. Each year the process speeds up as you learn exactly what to bring to the accountant.

How much does an accountant cost to prepare for taxes?

As with most things, the amount of money an accountant will charge to prepare your taxes varies depending on several factors, including your accountant's billing method. Some of the more common billing methods include:

  • A fixed annual fee, with additional charges for changes in your tax situation.

  • A fixed-rate for each data point entered

  • A flat rate for each tax form/schedule sent

  • A minimum fee, with additional costs for more complex situations

  • A subjective amount based on the accountant's criteria

  • An hourly rate based on the time needed to prepare the return

You can also expect to pay more if you show up with a box full of disorganized documents. The more effort you put into arranging the information you need, the faster and more economical your tax preparation will be.



Jim McClaflin, EA, NTPI Fellow, CTRC
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