Selecting Tax Software, Or…

by in Tax Issues

It’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to cherry blossoms, romance spring flings…oops. Wrong topic. This is the time for all good folks to come to the aid of their country. Yup, time to pony and fill up Uncle Sam’s coffers.

You’re smart, you’re capable, you are WOMAN, hear you roar! You can do everything yourself. So you’re going to prepare your own tax return.

May I tell you right now that that’s the dumbest thing you can do. Ask for help. See a tax pro. When you’re in business you need the guidance.

Heck, I lost a gig with TurboTax® several years ago. They were considering TaxMama® as a spokesperson for their business software. Then they asked the $64,000 question. Can you whole-heartedly endorse the use of TurboTax®? After thinking for a moment, I had to admit – not without having a tax pro involved. Shucks. I hate honesty! It costs.

But the truth is, there are so many nuances to both running a business and preparing a business tax return. Especially if you’ve formed an LLC, corporation, etc. There are so many opportunities to make errors, or to miss out on credits or tax benefits if you don’t know the law. Let’s face it, I’ve only been working in this field for about 30 tax seasons, and I am still coming up against things I cannot answer – daily.

So I urge you to work with a tax pro who understands your particular industry, the nature of your business, the nuances of working from home and, perhaps, hiring your children. And who can guide you towards saving for college, retirement, etc. With children and a house and business to run, it’s hard to look towards the future on your own.

But, if you’re going to use do-it-yourself software, let me suggest that you use a software package that gives you full guidance. Use one where you have access to a tax professional to review your work.

This year, all the major tax software companies provide tax pro support. You can get answers to your questions. However, in speaking with an Ask the Tax Expert at Turbo Tax® this week, I learned that they are monitored to ensure they don’t offer tax advice – just preparation guidance. So, that leads me to conclude that the other firms are in the same boat. Except!

Two tax software firms also have offices (or franchisees) who prepare taxes – H&R Block and eSmart Tax (owned by Liberty Tax). Of these, your best value might be H&R Block’s Best of Both service. For one flat fee, you can start your own tax return, then get unlimited time and questions with one of their tax professionals. AND they will review your tax return, sign it as preparer and efile it for you.

Both of these companies promise to back you up in the case of an audit, with a tax professional to represent you.

When you’re working on your own, it’s nice to have a safety net.

 

(Disclosure: the links are affiliate links – and provide you with discounts of 15%-20% .)

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About the Author - Eva Rosenberg

Eva Rosenberg, EA, founder of the popular tax advice site, TaxMama.com, is a nationally syndicated Dow Jones columnist at MarketWatch.com, an author and popular speaker and instructor. Please join the TaxMama family and get answers to your own tax questions.

 

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