Question By: Anonymous
Is it better to file taxes through an online entity or with a tax preparer?
Answer By: Jennifer Reynolds, CPA, lecturer in accounting
There are many variables to consider when it comes to choosing how to prepare a tax return and how to choose a tax preparer. If a taxpayer is comfortable preparing their own return, and has income of less than $66,000, they may use the IRS Free File program (available at IRS.gov). Taxpayers are allowed to use name-brand software through this program for free. The main thing to avoid when filing online or with some of the tax preparation companies is a tax refund advance. This is really a short-term loan often with very high rates and fees – up to 35% in some cases.
I do believe the more complicated your return, the more careful you should be about who prepares the return. Our tax code is about 80,000 pages long and some preparers are seasonal employees with just a few weeks training from the companies they work for and they don’t have the same educational background as a certified public accountant (CPA.)