Blog Post

Should You Use a Tax Pro?

There are some people who go to a tax preparer no matter how simple their taxes might be, just as there are people who spend hours preparing their own taxes every year, even though they aren’t tax professionals. The decision of whether to do your own taxes is a matter of personal choice, but there are some factors to consider that could sway you one way or the other.

The Home Office Deduction

The home office deduction can be a particularly difficult expense to deduct. The issue is that while many web workers do use at least a part of their home as a work space, they don’t do so in a way that the IRS considers acceptable for claiming it as a deduction. A home office must be used exclusively for business purposes in order to write off a percentage of your utilities, mortgage, rent or other expenses.

That means you can’t use the same area for handling personal tasks, like writing a letter to Grandma. Your kids can’t play in the same room — even if you need to be able to keep one eye on them and the other on your work. Admittedly, the odds of the IRS stopping by your house and checking just how exclusively you use your home office for work are pretty low, but with taxes, it’s generally best to be safe rather than sorry. A tax preparer can help you make sure you’re on the safe side.

Your Employees

If you’re telecommuting as a full-time employee of a business, your taxes aren’t going to much more complicated than if you were going into the office every day. But if you run your own business, things get more complicated. If your business has grown to the point that you have employees — whether or not you see them in person — it’s generally best to start talking to a tax professional that can help you through the paperwork.

Changed Status

While you may not need to have your taxes entirely prepared by a professional, it’s generally worth at least consulting with a tax pro if your situation has dramatically changed over the last year. Even something as simple as switching to telecommuting full-time can be worth a call. Not all tax software can identify every single deduction or credit that might be available to you and, if it’s your first year in a new situation, you may not be aware of all of the deductions you could make.

Choosing How to Do Your Taxes

These issues I’ve outlined here are just starting points to consider; your tax situation may differ dramatically from every other web worker’s. If you have any concerns, it’s best to actually talk to a tax professional who you can tell about the specifics of your situation. It’s also worthwhile consulting the IRS web site for further information about your particular tax situation.

Do you use a tax professional?

Photo by Flickr user Alan Cleaver licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

5 Responses to “Should You Use a Tax Pro?”

  1. I’ve been self-employed since 1991 and have always used a CPA to do my taxes. It’s not that I’m unable to do them myself, but when I’m audited, my tax guy meets with the IRS, not me.

  2. Jodi Chapman

    I’ve got a simple business and have used for a few years to do my taxes. If I hire employees I’ll probably need to work with a professional but that’s not going to be for a while.

  3. My home office deduction went out the window once I switched to working on a laptop full-time. Now my office is on my bed, the couch, the corner coffee shop…