Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

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dknightd
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by dknightd »

I've thought about it, but have not to date.
In the beginning I used paper and pencil, and a calculator. Then I would transcribe final result with pen and paper.
Then I used an excel spreadsheat. And again, transcribed final result with pen and paper.
Then I started using tax software. (for the first few years I checked the results with my spread sheets, then I got tired of modifying spread sheet every year)
A couple of times I've thought about hiring somebody to do it for me. But I think in reality I'd have to do it myself anyway, just so I could check their results. After all, I'm the one signing that the results are correct and accurate. So if I hired somebody, I'd have to do it myself, then I'd have to provide them with the information, and pay them to prepare it. Then if the numbers did not match I'd have to figure out why. For me it is much simpler just to do it myself. Sounds like unnecessary work and spending to me. I suspect if I die first spouse will take info down to H&R Block, and pay them to use the same (or similar) software to what I am using now.
I like to have some idea of how tax changes effect me, so would probably have to keep up with them anyway.
If you value a bird in the hand, pay off the loan. If you are willing to risk getting two birds (or none) from the market, invest the funds. Retired 9/19. Still working on mortgage payoff.
pshonore
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by pshonore »

shess wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 3:39 am
bantam222 wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 2:15 am Ideally you can understand each line on the final tax forms turbo tax spits out. I use to do my taxes manually my first ~5 but finally decided the turbo tax cost was worth the price to save a bit of time.

It is not uncommon for me to go through the turbo tax questions and then have the wrong results spit out into the forms that are actually submitted to IRS. I am able to identify these anomalies and go back through turbo tax and tweak my answers until the outputs align to what I expect.

I highly recommend learning how to do this — also understanding this gives you insight into how to avoid taxes with your actions you perform throughout the year
IMHO, this is the dumbest thing about TurboTax. They have everything they need to provide a kind of hypertext tutorial which helps you understand how taxes work. Instead, you generally have to figure it out yourself and "know" which inputs feed into which outputs and where to go to enter them. It's not some sort of mind-bendingly impossible task at all, there aren't THAT many places for things to live, but I find it annoying that they make you do it at all, they know which inputs feed to which outputs. When I first started using TurboTax many years ago, I'm pretty sure that when you double-clicked a field it would take you to a spreadsheet-style summary - and then you could click through items there to go to the point of entry.

I'd dearly love to have the ability to right-click and do a kind of pivot on a field. Like show me a graph of the final results as a function of the value in that field.
If you go through the Interview mode in TT and answer the questions correctly, it is very hard to mess up. If you know your tax "logic" you can also accomplish the same in Form mode. If you work in Form mode, you should definitely run the return in Interview mode to see if you missed anything on one of the forms which can happen. I've prepared over 3K tax returns in last 10 years and am familiar with most tax idiosyncrasies. I've corrected CPA returns and for all I know some CPAs may have corrected my returns but that news seldom comes back.
As for OP's CPA finding several thousand in tax savings, that's highly suspect assuming the same raw data and it was input correctly.
shess
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by shess »

fundseeker wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 8:05 am I know many people do their taxes online maybe for free, but that seems very risky to me. I prefer to buy the CD and do mine and others offline. So, if you do pay for the software each year, then your net payment to your CPA will be less than $200, so that'd be less painful than paying $250.
I buy the CD, too, but ... this is Intuit, so after years of experience with Intuit I no longer assume that I'd be able to do anything with the product if/when Intuit decides to exit the market or strip-mine their past customer base. At best, I think my returns aren't stored in the cloud, because that would probably be noticed by a researcher and would be a very risky move on Intuit's part.

Put another way, if you use TurboTax, make sure you squirrel away your final PDF on Google Drive or some other trusted storage medium.
niceguy7376
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by niceguy7376 »

tj wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:29 pm
neverpanic wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:22 pm
2Scoops wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:49 am I took his advice and I went from paying to a several thousand dollar return.

My CPA’s fees are now around $250 and hate paying that if there is a cheaper alternative.
If you hate paying $250 to save several thousand dollars, there's nothing I can say that will make any sense.
How can $250 generate thousands? What tax credit could the CPA possibly find that you can't find on your own that causes that type of variance?
Maybe CPA takes some edge deductions that turbotax doesnt?
2commaBH
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by 2commaBH »

Yes, we have used a CPA for years. Well worth the money, as our taxes are extremely burdensome and complicated. IMO 6 professional capacities in which everyone should have "a guy"*:

1. CPA
2. Primary care doctor
3. Architect
4. Lawyer
5. Banker
6. Handyman*/General Contractor

* No implied gender preference, this is just the way I hear it referred to.
tj
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by tj »

2commaBH wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 8:46 pm Yes, we have used a CPA for years. Well worth the money, as our taxes are extremely burdensome and complicated. IMO 6 professional capacities in which everyone should have "a guy"*:

1. CPA
2. Primary care doctor
3. Architect
4. Lawyer
5. Banker
6. Handyman*/General Contractor

* No implied gender preference, this is just the way I hear it referred to.

What does your banker tell you?
2commaBH
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by 2commaBH »

tj wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 8:59 pm
2commaBH wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 8:46 pm Yes, we have used a CPA for years. Well worth the money, as our taxes are extremely burdensome and complicated. IMO 6 professional capacities in which everyone should have "a guy"*:

1. CPA
2. Primary care doctor
3. Architect
4. Lawyer
5. Banker
6. Handyman*/General Contractor

* No implied gender preference, this is just the way I hear it referred to.

What does your banker tell you?
YMMV, but I have found a personal banker very helpful for getting the best lending/deposit deals for my situation.
lstone19
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by lstone19 »

pshonore wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 10:33 am If you go through the Interview mode in TT and answer the questions correctly, it is very hard to mess up. If you know your tax "logic" you can also accomplish the same in Form mode. If you work in Form mode, you should definitely run the return in Interview mode to see if you missed anything on one of the forms which can happen.
I agree although sometimes on some of the less common things, it can be easy to misinterpret what TT is asking.

What I see as an issue is the number of BHers who recommend just buying the downloadable/CD version of TT Deluxe since all the other forms are there, just no interview support. And I suspect that that is what gets a lot of people into trouble as without the interview support, it's basically preparing the more involved parts of the return by hand (although some things will still flow to other forms). Although to be fair, I'm doing that this year having bought Premier instead of Home & Business since thanks to COVID, my business mostly didn't operate this year. But, I have all the forms and worksheets from last year saved so I can see exactly what it did last year and use that as my guide for what to do this year.
rmgatl
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by rmgatl »

I’ve used a cpa for about 30 years, but fired the one that was charging roughly $1500, replaced with one I like that runs closer to $500-600.

I can’t keep up with changing tax laws. Our situation is simpler now (no longer dealing with private company stock options, angel investing, acquisitions) but not that simple given investments and medical. I don’t want to do something stupid that might accidentally trigger an audit.

If I did it myself I’d probably spend at least 12-20 hours, $30-50/hr for my time which makes no sense vs my consulting rates or even what I make teaching, work that I far prefer to dealing with government forms.

Important point: Rate of IRS audits has been lowest ever recently, but will likely go way up with new administration.
vinhodoporto
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by vinhodoporto »

I used an accountant when I was doing a lot of international travel for work and as a result had to pay taxes in another country in addition to the US. My company required and paid for the accountant though. Definitely worthwhile because it got very complicated with tax liability in two countries.

Currently we do our taxes ourselves (w Tax Act) and I don’t see the benefit from using an accountant in our situation: W2 employees, no unusual investments or deductions. Only complicated thing is I usually have to pay taxes in multiple states due to heavy business travel.

If I owned a business, had complicated investment structures, or multiple rental properties I’d use an accountant.
Count of Notre Dame
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by Count of Notre Dame »

neverpanic wrote: Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:48 pm
Count of Notre Dame wrote: Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:58 am I don't want to be accustatory, but in my own personal experience there are some tax preparers who cheat on taxes for their clients. I reviewed my brother's and mother in law's returns and they both had tax deductions that were not valid. In my brother's words he is fine with it since the tax preparer is taking the chance. I told him to be accountable for his own return and know what's on it.
RetiredCSProf wrote: Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:31 pm A few years back, I sold property that I owned jointly with my two siblings. My siblings' CPAs had both incorrectly concluded that we sold the property at a loss -- I pointed out to my sister's CPA that we had neither a loss nor a gain. It was useful having a CPA involved as he served in a neutral role and was better able to explain the IRS rules regarding gain/loss on the sale. OTOH, if I had gone along with the CPA's assessment, I could have "saved" money on my taxes.
Yes, there are tax preparers who play fast-and-loose with the rules. They mostly play around the edges in terms of avoidance, but admittedly, there are some bigtime fraudsters out there engaging in pretty blatant evasion and getting a friendly CPA to sign off on it.

But the second example above is far more common than "cheating". Three CPAs looked at the exact same situation and had 2 completely different interpretations. This happens all the time. It's no different than three MDs looking at the same MRI or three family law attorneys reviewing the same case file and arriving at diametrically opposed conclusions. There's no malfeasance - just a different reading of the pertinent facts and the applicable law. A lot of people mistakenly assume that 100% of IRS rules are clear and unambiguous and that simply is not accurate. The deliberate ambiguity - IMO - gently encourages people to be more compliant than not.
Yes very good comment. I think an experienced tax preparer also is aware when there is grey area and knows to call it in their client's favor when it's not clear cut. That's when a less experienced tax preparer or DIY'er could "leave" some money on the table.
RetiredCSProf
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by RetiredCSProf »

Since my example has been quoted a couple times, I am adding more explanation ...

I saw only one interpretation of the IRS rules on a cap gain / loss on the sale of joint property with my two siblings -- it did not look like a grey area to me. I'm not a CPA, but spent time researching the issue because I prepare my own taxes. My siblings both use CPAs.

In discussing the issue with my sister's CPA, he acknowledged using the rules that applied to the most common situation: You have a capital gain if you sell the asset for more than your adjusted basis. You have a capital loss if you sell the asset for less than your adjusted basis.

It was a matter of digging deeper into the IRS rules and considering adjusted basis, FMV, and sale price for our unique situation -- we had received the property as a gift from our mother, and this was our situation: If you use the donor's adjusted basis for figuring a gain and get a loss, and then use the FMV for figuring a loss and get a gain, you have neither a gain nor loss on the sale or disposition of the property. https://www.irs.gov/faqs/capital-gains- ... he%20gift.
Tingting1013
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by Tingting1013 »

For many years the IRS allowed one to deduct graduate school tuition as “Miscellaneous Unreimbursed Business Expense”. There were many hoops to jump through and qualifications to meet, but if you did claim it successfully it would have meant tens of thousands in lower taxes.

Even many CPAs were unlikely to have caught this. TurboTax definitely didn’t ask about it.
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by abuss368 »

2Scoops wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:49 am I’m curious if anyone here uses an outside source for their personal taxes (not business)? if so, why do you choose to do that?

I started using a CPA back in 2003 at the suggestion of a friend. Long story short, what Turbo Tax showed was owing a modest amount and my friend suggested the CPA would validate it and it was worth the $75. I took his advice and I went from paying to a several thousand dollar return.

I stuck with this CPA for the last 17 years.

Last year I did a test and input my numbers in turbo tax’s free online tool and once again it was less than what my CPA put together.

I must be missing a step in Turbo Tax somehow. My CPA’s fees are now around $250 and hate paying that if there is a cheaper alternative.
You should be able to compare each support form and supporting schedule to determine the difference. You may be correct or not.
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abuss368
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by abuss368 »

beernutz wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 2:40 pm I used TaxCut or something like it for more than 20 years but 3 years ago decided to pass the baton to a local CPA. We went to him for advice on whether my wife should take a buyout and decided to let him do our taxes. It was definitely sticker shock as that first year was $500 and it is now close to $600 but I still think it is worth the money for the peace of mind I get.

Disclaimer: I worked for a Big 8 firm doing auditing right out of college in the 80s and obtained my CPA certificate. I still hate doing taxes.
This post speaks to me and someday I am expecting to do the same. I have prepared my taxes for over 25 years and have been out of public for a couple of years. You simply don’t want to be bothered.
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bsteiner
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by bsteiner »

RetiredCSProf wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 4:16 pm Since my example has been quoted a couple times, I am adding more explanation ...

I saw only one interpretation of the IRS rules on a cap gain / loss on the sale of joint property with my two siblings -- it did not look like a grey area to me. I'm not a CPA, but spent time researching the issue because I prepare my own taxes. My siblings both use CPAs.

In discussing the issue with my sister's CPA, he acknowledged using the rules that applied to the most common situation: You have a capital gain if you sell the asset for more than your adjusted basis. You have a capital loss if you sell the asset for less than your adjusted basis.

It was a matter of digging deeper into the IRS rules and considering adjusted basis, FMV, and sale price for our unique situation -- we had received the property as a gift from our mother, and this was our situation: If you use the donor's adjusted basis for figuring a gain and get a loss, and then use the FMV for figuring a loss and get a gain, you have neither a gain nor loss on the sale or disposition of the property. https://www.irs.gov/faqs/capital-gains- ... he%20gift.
Congress makes the laws, though the IRS issues regulations, rulings, etc.

This isn't a gray area. It's in Section 1015(a) of the Internal Revenue Code: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/1015. However, you can't expect a nonlawyer to be familiar with this.
pshonore
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by pshonore »

lstone19 wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:28 am
pshonore wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 10:33 am If you go through the Interview mode in TT and answer the questions correctly, it is very hard to mess up. If you know your tax "logic" you can also accomplish the same in Form mode. If you work in Form mode, you should definitely run the return in Interview mode to see if you missed anything on one of the forms which can happen.
I agree although sometimes on some of the less common things, it can be easy to misinterpret what TT is asking.

What I see as an issue is the number of BHers who recommend just buying the downloadable/CD version of TT Deluxe since all the other forms are there, just no interview support. And I suspect that that is what gets a lot of people into trouble as without the interview support, it's basically preparing the more involved parts of the return by hand (although some things will still flow to other forms). Although to be fair, I'm doing that this year having bought Premier instead of Home & Business since thanks to COVID, my business mostly didn't operate this year. But, I have all the forms and worksheets from last year saved so I can see exactly what it did last year and use that as my guide for what to do this year.
What forme in TT Deluxe or Basic do not have "interview support"?
lstone19
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by lstone19 »

pshonore wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:10 pm
lstone19 wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:28 am What I see as an issue is the number of BHers who recommend just buying the downloadable/CD version of TT Deluxe since all the other forms are there, just no interview support. And I suspect that that is what gets a lot of people into trouble as without the interview support, it's basically preparing the more involved parts of the return by hand (although some things will still flow to other forms). Although to be fair, I'm doing that this year having bought Premier instead of Home & Business since thanks to COVID, my business mostly didn't operate this year. But, I have all the forms and worksheets from last year saved so I can see exactly what it did last year and use that as my guide for what to do this year.
What forme in TT Deluxe or Basic do not have "interview support"?
While the TT website does not make things very clear, I believe Premier is needed for interview support for Schedule D and its related forms (e.g. 8949) and H&B is needed for interview support for Schedule C and its related forms such as Schedule SE.

As I mentioned, I went with Premier this year and I see nothing in the interview to assist with Schedule C. But it did transfer data from last year's Schedule C to this year's Schedule C and transferred the 1099-MISCs related to my business converting them to the new 1099-NEC. So my task will be to make sure I end up with all the same forms related to my business as I had last year. But I still have last year's TT H&B installed so can run this year's and last year's side-by-side to get it all correct.
grandmacassie
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by grandmacassie »

Yes Began using an accountant when DH started getting K1’s for partnership interests and started depreciating his car b/c it was used for business. One of the small luxuries that are very much worth it to me.
shess
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by shess »

lstone19 wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:36 pm
pshonore wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:10 pm
lstone19 wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:28 am What I see as an issue is the number of BHers who recommend just buying the downloadable/CD version of TT Deluxe since all the other forms are there, just no interview support. And I suspect that that is what gets a lot of people into trouble as without the interview support, it's basically preparing the more involved parts of the return by hand (although some things will still flow to other forms). Although to be fair, I'm doing that this year having bought Premier instead of Home & Business since thanks to COVID, my business mostly didn't operate this year. But, I have all the forms and worksheets from last year saved so I can see exactly what it did last year and use that as my guide for what to do this year.
What forme in TT Deluxe or Basic do not have "interview support"?
While the TT website does not make things very clear, I believe Premier is needed for interview support for Schedule D and its related forms (e.g. 8949) and H&B is needed for interview support for Schedule C and its related forms such as Schedule SE.
TurboTax interview support does sometimes end up as "Are there any adjustments you are aware of?" with space to do freestyle entry, and this comes up IMHO surprisingly often for me. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the interview questions I answer "no" to because I wasn't a railroad worker between 1873 and 1926, and I didn't own a foreign property, I didn't participate in some edge-case pension program, etc. I understand why these questions are in place, but I like the pre-prep questionnaire my CPA sends me better, instead of 25 questions each on a separate page, it's 6 pages of checkboxes so I can just scan down the list quickly and check things off.
Exchme
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by Exchme »

Been having a CPA do them for 12 years, ever since they got complicated enough that I made mistakes 3 years running. Then DW fired me and we've used a CPA ever since. The packet back from the CPA each year is an inch thick and contains forms that I've never heard of. The DIY investment in time and energy and likelihood of error - no thanks!
MikeG62
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by MikeG62 »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:40 pm
neverpanic wrote: Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:48 pm
Count of Notre Dame wrote: Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:58 am I don't want to be accustatory, but in my own personal experience there are some tax preparers who cheat on taxes for their clients. I reviewed my brother's and mother in law's returns and they both had tax deductions that were not valid. In my brother's words he is fine with it since the tax preparer is taking the chance. I told him to be accountable for his own return and know what's on it.
RetiredCSProf wrote: Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:31 pm A few years back, I sold property that I owned jointly with my two siblings. My siblings' CPAs had both incorrectly concluded that we sold the property at a loss -- I pointed out to my sister's CPA that we had neither a loss nor a gain. It was useful having a CPA involved as he served in a neutral role and was better able to explain the IRS rules regarding gain/loss on the sale. OTOH, if I had gone along with the CPA's assessment, I could have "saved" money on my taxes.
Yes, there are tax preparers who play fast-and-loose with the rules. They mostly play around the edges in terms of avoidance, but admittedly, there are some bigtime fraudsters out there engaging in pretty blatant evasion and getting a friendly CPA to sign off on it.

But the second example above is far more common than "cheating". Three CPAs looked at the exact same situation and had 2 completely different interpretations. This happens all the time. It's no different than three MDs looking at the same MRI or three family law attorneys reviewing the same case file and arriving at diametrically opposed conclusions. There's no malfeasance - just a different reading of the pertinent facts and the applicable law. A lot of people mistakenly assume that 100% of IRS rules are clear and unambiguous and that simply is not accurate. The deliberate ambiguity - IMO - gently encourages people to be more compliant than not.
Yes very good comment. I think an experienced tax preparer also is aware when there is grey area and knows to call it in their client's favor when it's not clear cut. That's when a less experienced tax preparer or DIY'er could "leave" some money on the table.
IMHO, there are not all that many "grey area's" when it comes to typical individual income tax returns. Income is either income or it is not and deductions either meet the rules to qualify as deductions or they don't. Now if one is saying that by doing it themselves they may make errors which result in paying more tax than they should, that is certainly possible. Having said that, TT makes it pretty easy to prevent this from happening if one bothers to go through the full set of interview questions in each area. FWIW, I don't, but have been doing my taxes for over three decades.
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lstone19
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by lstone19 »

Count of Notre Dame wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:40 pm I think an experienced tax preparer also is aware when there is grey area and knows to call it in their client's favor when it's not clear cut. That's when a less experienced tax preparer or DIY'er could "leave" some money on the table.
The flip side is the tax preparer who is so afraid of having the IRS question anything that when there is a grey area figures it's better to call it in the government's favor to avoid any questions. My father, after years of doing it himself, started using an accountant friend. Unfortunately, I found out a few years ago when asking him why he hadn't taken some deduction (details forgotten at this point) on his tax return that his accountant friend was scared of his own shadow.
dcabler
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by dcabler »

Nope - been doing it myself since my first job in high school. Once life got a little more complex, I switched over to software and have been using H&R Block's probably for a decade or so. In general, my tax situation is run-of-the-mill: Wages, the usual deductions, ETF/Mutual fund investments in a taxable account. I think maybe twice I had a peculiar situation where I was either able to get a direct answer from H&R block or a quick answer from a friend-of-a-friend who is an accountant. But usually in Feb or March I ask the family to go have some fun while I enter data into the software. Then I let it percolate for a week ago. Then DW and I go through the entries line by line one last time before hitting "send".

Only other thing is trying to predict taxes ahead of time, especially given that I refuse to file quarterly while I'm still working. There are, fortunately, several spreadsheets available (including 1 on this forum) that I use for tax planning so that I can adjust my W4-withholdings accordingly to take into account fund distributions in my taxable account and RSU's that vest and which I sell...
lstone19
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by lstone19 »

dcabler wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 8:20 am Only other thing is trying to predict taxes ahead of time, especially given that I refuse to file quarterly while I'm still working. There are, fortunately, several spreadsheets available (including 1 on this forum) that I use for tax planning so that I can adjust my W4-withholdings accordingly to take into account fund distributions in my taxable account and RSU's that vest and which I sell...
I hope you understand that when making estimated payments, you do not "file" anything. All you do is send a payment which, if by mail, is accompanied by a payment voucher. You do not file anything to show how you determined the amount nor are you required to retain anything to justify the amount. By doing the work to adjust your W-4, you've already done all the work to determine how much to send as estimated payments.
dcabler
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by dcabler »

lstone19 wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 9:16 am
dcabler wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 8:20 am Only other thing is trying to predict taxes ahead of time, especially given that I refuse to file quarterly while I'm still working. There are, fortunately, several spreadsheets available (including 1 on this forum) that I use for tax planning so that I can adjust my W4-withholdings accordingly to take into account fund distributions in my taxable account and RSU's that vest and which I sell...
I hope you understand that when making estimated payments, you do not "file" anything. All you do is send a payment which, if by mail, is accompanied by a payment voucher. You do not file anything to show how you determined the amount nor are you required to retain anything to justify the amount. By doing the work to adjust your W-4, you've already done all the work to determine how much to send as estimated payments.
Of course I understand you don't actually "file" anything. And totally understand the mechanics of quarterly payments. But I choose to do what I choose to do, knowing that some day I will indeed retire and end up sending quarterly payments. Till then, I'll stick to what I'm doing and waiting as late in the year as I possible can to do my with-holding updates...
pshonore
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by pshonore »

lstone19 wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:36 pm
pshonore wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:10 pm
lstone19 wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:28 am What I see as an issue is the number of BHers who recommend just buying the downloadable/CD version of TT Deluxe since all the other forms are there, just no interview support. And I suspect that that is what gets a lot of people into trouble as without the interview support, it's basically preparing the more involved parts of the return by hand (although some things will still flow to other forms). Although to be fair, I'm doing that this year having bought Premier instead of Home & Business since thanks to COVID, my business mostly didn't operate this year. But, I have all the forms and worksheets from last year saved so I can see exactly what it did last year and use that as my guide for what to do this year.
What forme in TT Deluxe or Basic do not have "interview support"?
While the TT website does not make things very clear, I believe Premier is needed for interview support for Schedule D and its related forms (e.g. 8949) and H&B is needed for interview support for Schedule C and its related forms such as Schedule SE.

As I mentioned, I went with Premier this year and I see nothing in the interview to assist with Schedule C. But it did transfer data from last year's Schedule C to this year's Schedule C and transferred the 1099-MISCs related to my business converting them to the new 1099-NEC. So my task will be to make sure I end up with all the same forms related to my business as I had last year. But I still have last year's TT H&B installed so can run this year's and last year's side-by-side to get it all correct.
I don't have 2020 TT but just looked at 2019. There is a full series of interview questions to assist with Schedule C. From the Income Summary screen, page down and select Business Items (visit all). Then just start answering the questions. Same with Schedule D except you get there through Investments. Now if you say you have business income or stock sales, it will offer an upgrade. For example the stock sale upgrade pitch may say, "Premier will help you calculate basis or give guidance on Employee Stock Plans" which you may or not need. I believe there are interview questions for of the top menu bar.every Form. The easiest way to get to a specific interview for a form or topic is to click on "Show Topic List" on the right of the top Menu Bar.
egrets
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by egrets »

Dead Man Walking wrote: Tue Nov 24, 2020 3:18 pm Did our taxes manually for over 50 years. When Congress “simplified” the tax code a couple of years ago, I decided to use an accountant due to my advanced age and my wife’s ignorance of the process. It sure is nice to drop off the data at his office and pick up the completed forms in several days. Furthermore, my wife will have a relationship with a local accountant when I die.

DMW
I believe that change was so that the first form would "fit on a postcard." I do my taxes by hand. That change was quite annoying, and I'm in my seventies, but I plowed through.
lstone19
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by lstone19 »

pshonore wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:14 pmI don't have 2020 TT but just looked at 2019. There is a full series of interview questions to assist with Schedule C. From the Income Summary screen, page down and select Business Items (visit all). Then just start answering the questions. Same with Schedule D except you get there through Investments. Now if you say you have business income or stock sales, it will offer an upgrade. For example the stock sale upgrade pitch may say, "Premier will help you calculate basis or give guidance on Employee Stock Plans" which you may or not need. I believe there are interview questions for of the top menu bar.every Form. The easiest way to get to a specific interview for a form or topic is to click on "Show Topic List" on the right of the top Menu Bar.
Which version of TT 2019 do you have? just saying your have TT 2019 doesn’t tell me much as we’re discussing the diffferences between the different versions - Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business.
pshonore
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by pshonore »

lstone19 wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 8:10 pm
pshonore wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:14 pmI don't have 2020 TT but just looked at 2019. There is a full series of interview questions to assist with Schedule C. From the Income Summary screen, page down and select Business Items (visit all). Then just start answering the questions. Same with Schedule D except you get there through Investments. Now if you say you have business income or stock sales, it will offer an upgrade. For example the stock sale upgrade pitch may say, "Premier will help you calculate basis or give guidance on Employee Stock Plans" which you may or not need. I believe there are interview questions for of the top menu bar.every Form. The easiest way to get to a specific interview for a form or topic is to click on "Show Topic List" on the right of the top Menu Bar.
Which version of TT 2019 do you have? just saying your have TT 2019 doesn’t tell me much as we’re discussing the diffferences between the different versions - Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business.
Deluxe.
lstone19
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by lstone19 »

pshonore wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:16 pm
lstone19 wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 8:10 pm
pshonore wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:14 pmI don't have 2020 TT but just looked at 2019. There is a full series of interview questions to assist with Schedule C. From the Income Summary screen, page down and select Business Items (visit all). Then just start answering the questions. Same with Schedule D except you get there through Investments. Now if you say you have business income or stock sales, it will offer an upgrade. For example the stock sale upgrade pitch may say, "Premier will help you calculate basis or give guidance on Employee Stock Plans" which you may or not need. I believe there are interview questions for of the top menu bar.every Form. The easiest way to get to a specific interview for a form or topic is to click on "Show Topic List" on the right of the top Menu Bar.
Which version of TT 2019 do you have? just saying your have TT 2019 doesn’t tell me much as we’re discussing the diffferences between the different versions - Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business.
Deluxe.
I stand corrected. I just checked TT 2020 Premier and it does have much, if not all, of the Schedule C interview in it. Why the heck have I been buying Home & Business in past years? Despite what their marketing says, I'm not seeing that H&B adds any value over Premier for what I need.

One thing I did notice, that most likely will be fixed in coming updates, is that while it converted last year's 1099-MISC forms with non-employee compensation on them to the new 1099-NEC form, the interview asks about 1099-MISC forms and ignores all the converted 1099-NEC forms (but any amounts put on them in Forms Mode ends up on Schedule C).
Dead Man Walking
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by Dead Man Walking »

egrets wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 6:58 pm
Dead Man Walking wrote: Tue Nov 24, 2020 3:18 pm Did our taxes manually for over 50 years. When Congress “simplified” the tax code a couple of years ago, I decided to use an accountant due to my advanced age and my wife’s ignorance of the process. It sure is nice to drop off the data at his office and pick up the completed forms in several days. Furthermore, my wife will have a relationship with a local accountant when I die.

DMW
I believe that change was so that the first form would "fit on a postcard." I do my taxes by hand. That change was quite annoying, and I'm in my seventies, but I plowed through.
God bless you, as a fellow septuagenarian, I respect your persistence. Only the federal government could turn 2 pages into 4 pages and call it simplification.

DMW
ohboy!
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by ohboy! »

Thanks for reminder. I need a new accountant. Have been paying $1500 for the past few years and always regretting it. Not for price but for helpfulness.
ohboy!
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by ohboy! »

rmgatl wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:44 am I’ve used a cpa for about 30 years, but fired the one that was charging roughly $1500, replaced with one I like that runs closer to $500-600.

I can’t keep up with changing tax laws. Our situation is simpler now (no longer dealing with private company stock options, angel investing, acquisitions) but not that simple given investments and medical. I don’t want to do something stupid that might accidentally trigger an audit.

If I did it myself I’d probably spend at least 12-20 hours, $30-50/hr for my time which makes no sense vs my consulting rates or even what I make teaching, work that I far prefer to dealing with government forms.

Important point: Rate of IRS audits has been lowest ever recently, but will likely go way up with new administration.
Was there any difficulty in making the transfer from one to the other? My taxes are pretty complex with personal and business.
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Toons
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by Toons »

Trust Yourself
Do Your Own Taxes.
You won't go to Tax jail
If you miss something


:happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
rmgatl
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by rmgatl »

ohboy! wrote: Mon Nov 30, 2020 3:53 pm
rmgatl wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:44 am I’ve used a cpa for about 30 years, but fired the one that was charging roughly $1500, replaced with one I like that runs closer to $500-600.

I can’t keep up with changing tax laws. Our situation is simpler now (no longer dealing with private company stock options, angel investing, acquisitions) but not that simple given investments and medical. I don’t want to do something stupid that might accidentally trigger an audit.

If I did it myself I’d probably spend at least 12-20 hours, $30-50/hr for my time which makes no sense vs my consulting rates or even what I make teaching, work that I far prefer to dealing with government forms.

Important point: Rate of IRS audits has been lowest ever recently, but will likely go way up with new administration.
Was there any difficulty in making the transfer from one to the other? My taxes are pretty complex with personal and business.
No issues and actually we’ve moved a second time after our cpa #2 in my story retired. I think we paid about $465 last year. Mix of earned and investment income from two brokerage houses. Didn’t quite itemize with elevated standard deduction, but we will this year.

I’ve never messed with rental property, so never any of that.

No private company transactions any more, but earlier I had a complicated mid 7 figure private company transaction plus an biotech angel investment ipo, probably enough complexity to easily warrant the $1500 fees from first firm, but I couldn’t get them to come down after things simplified. The first firm figured I could afford it and I wouldn’t shop. Maybe yours are complicated enough to still require high dollar prep.
Hope this helps.
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teen persuasion
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by teen persuasion »

fundseeker wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 8:05 am I'd never pay $250 for someone to do mine, but I have done mine and other family members for years. It can be time consuming, so if you have more productive things to do, maybe you should just pay $250. It was especially time consuming when our children were in college, which got pretty complicated trying to match the school's billing and payment records with the tax years.

But, since you have to gather the info for your CPA, you'd have done most of the work and could give TTax a try next year. Your CPA is definitely not as interested in getting you the biggest refund as you would be. It will be easier after your first year because TTax will populate the relevant information from one year to the next, and you can see a two year comparison and look for are any major changes where you might have messed something up.

I know many people do their taxes online maybe for free, but that seems very risky to me. I prefer to buy the CD and do mine and others offline. So, if you do pay for the software each year, then your net payment to your CPA will be less than $200, so that'd be less painful than paying $250.
Ours aren't terribly complicated, except by the college financial aid tweaking I do, and the coordination with the appropriate kid's tax return (claiming enough scholarship $ as taxable income to be eligible for AOTC and state credits). This is the first year I've had any issues with it - the state sent us a bill for taxes and penalties due to the disconnect between the 1098T and *our* return. Once I pointed out that the taxable scholarships were claimed on the student's return (not ours), the state agreed and dropped the issue.

I could only understand and immediately pinpoint the error because I was involved in doing the returns in the first place. That's one of the reasons I don't farm out our returns to someone else. Another reason is that doing our returns lets me see how it works, what the formulas are, how it all interacts, how I can best make use of the various parts for our situation. Then I use that info to plan our finances for future years, increasing our refunds over time (and minimizing future taxes). Someone else doing our returns is just reacting to what's already happened; I want to learn and steer our finances instead.

And finally, our tax returns are inputs to the FAFSA, which is another area where I want to steer for better aid. How much we contribute to various tax deferred accounts is deliberately calculated both for tax purposes and FAFSA purposes. Tradeoffs have to be made between them for certain years, so the calculations will change in non-FAFSA years, and after child related credits end.

I do my own taxes, because I want to plan them ahead to my best advantage, not just blindly react after the fact.
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by 2tall4economy »

vinhodoporto wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 10:15 am I used an accountant when I was doing a lot of international travel for work and as a result had to pay taxes in another country in addition to the US. My company required and paid for the accountant though. Definitely worthwhile because it got very complicated with tax liability in two countries.

Currently we do our taxes ourselves (w Tax Act) and I don’t see the benefit from using an accountant in our situation: W2 employees, no unusual investments or deductions. Only complicated thing is I usually have to pay taxes in multiple states due to heavy business travel.

If I owned a business, had complicated investment structures, or multiple rental properties I’d use an accountant.
Replace tax act with turbo tax and this describes me.

I literally found errors in every return every year kpmg tax did mine for me. To be fair, I couldn’t have done the foreign income forms myself but once they filled them out I was able to spot the errors.

As soon as I got back to the us I’m immediate did my own.

Full disclosure: I’m a cpa and had a graduate level class or two on taxation (but never practiced tax)
You can do anything you want in life. The rub is that there are consequences.
SnowBog
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by SnowBog »

I've always used TurboTax or done our taxes by hand since the time I started working.

But 2020 might be the first year I hire someone... Turns out, my employer is going to start keep track of business travel (assuming we ever start that again) and state withholdings in 2021, where I'll have to file a state return for every state I traveled to (that has an income tax). I'm not sure I want to take on that hassle... So that might be what drives me to hire someone more familiar with the various states like this.

While that doesn't kick in until 2021 tax season, I'd probably want to do a "dry run" with 2020 taxes. I actually already bought TurboTax for 2020 (before knowing of this change in 2021), so I'll probably end up with both - a return from TurboTax and one from the person we hire. We'll see...
hoffse
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by hoffse »

I do ours. I’m a tax attorney, and professionally I find a lot of CPAs take a more aggressive view of the tax code than I do. We get a K-1 and a couple W-2’s, and we do back door Roth contributions each year. The whole thing takes maybe an hour in TurboTax (but to be fair, I keep good records and just file stuff as it comes in through the year).

My firm has offices in 20 states but files consolidated returns for its partners in all states except any given partner’s state of residence. So I only have one state return to do.

I would use a CPA (or more likely a law firm with cross-border tax experts) if I had to deal with income in multiple countries. I would probably go the CPA route if my firm didn’t file those consolidated state returns because filing returns in 20 states is just a time sink. Maybe I would use one if I had multiple and varied lines of business that include depreciation or tax credits, etc.

For the time being and the foreseeable future though, none of those things will occur. TurboTax is able to handle what I throw at it each year just fine.

I just don’t think personal taxes are that hard for most people. It’s the single largest expense my family incurs every single year, and I like to have full control over how we manage it.
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Chicken lady
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by Chicken lady »

Started out doing our taxes with paper and pencil. Continued as we created a business moving into TT.

Switched to an accountant when the return of an expensive piece of equipment led us into the recapture zone. Since then, we've stuck with CPA's for taxes and periodic 'touch downs' as issues arise that would affect our tax situation.

We have several small businesses which are of different legal forms, getting it right when we're working with different regulations is more than I want to contend with. I'm happy to pay our accountant to keep up with the laws etc. Since I'm interested in the topic myself, we discuss changes, etc. and have been satisfied with his knowledge and recommendations of options.
lstone19
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by lstone19 »

SnowBog wrote: Fri Dec 11, 2020 3:17 am I've always used TurboTax or done our taxes by hand since the time I started working.

But 2020 might be the first year I hire someone... Turns out, my employer is going to start keep track of business travel (assuming we ever start that again) and state withholdings in 2021, where I'll have to file a state return for every state I traveled to (that has an income tax). I'm not sure I want to take on that hassle... So that might be what drives me to hire someone more familiar with the various states like this.

While that doesn't kick in until 2021 tax season, I'd probably want to do a "dry run" with 2020 taxes. I actually already bought TurboTax for 2020 (before knowing of this change in 2021), so I'll probably end up with both - a return from TurboTax and one from the person we hire. We'll see...
TT, from past experience, can handle multiple states quite well. You do your non-resident states first and then what you pay them should flow to your resident state's form for taxes paid to other states. However, TT charges for each additional state you download and each state incurs an additional filing fee if you have TT e-file it.

The non-resident state returns are generally fairly simple (far simpler than doing part-year returns which in most states use the same forms) as the only income you need to attribute to the non-resident states is the salary earned there. For your situations, none of your unearned income (e.g. interest, dividends, capital gains) gets attributed to that state. A lot of the complexity of non-resident returns is the math and the numbers that need to be transferred from one return to another which TT mostly does for you.
formerlybroke
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by formerlybroke »

260chrisb wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 1:49 pm Sure do and have for nearly 30 years. It's affordable, I get a lot of info and help, and I know it's done right. I've always considered it money well spent.
Ditto - although it's now been 40 years. They are not infallible, but I'd screw it up a whole lot worse.
SnowBog
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by SnowBog »

lstone19 wrote: Fri Dec 11, 2020 10:08 am
SnowBog wrote: Fri Dec 11, 2020 3:17 am I've always used TurboTax or done our taxes by hand since the time I started working.

But 2020 might be the first year I hire someone... Turns out, my employer is going to start keep track of business travel (assuming we ever start that again) and state withholdings in 2021, where I'll have to file a state return for every state I traveled to (that has an income tax). I'm not sure I want to take on that hassle... So that might be what drives me to hire someone more familiar with the various states like this.

While that doesn't kick in until 2021 tax season, I'd probably want to do a "dry run" with 2020 taxes. I actually already bought TurboTax for 2020 (before knowing of this change in 2021), so I'll probably end up with both - a return from TurboTax and one from the person we hire. We'll see...
TT, from past experience, can handle multiple states quite well. You do your non-resident states first and then what you pay them should flow to your resident state's form for taxes paid to other states. However, TT charges for each additional state you download and each state incurs an additional filing fee if you have TT e-file it.

The non-resident state returns are generally fairly simple (far simpler than doing part-year returns which in most states use the same forms) as the only income you need to attribute to the non-resident states is the salary earned there. For your situations, none of your unearned income (e.g. interest, dividends, capital gains) gets attributed to that state. A lot of the complexity of non-resident returns is the math and the numbers that need to be transferred from one return to another which TT mostly does for you.
Good to know! Maybe this won't suck as much as I expected it will... But I'm leaning towards hiring someone - even if just for a year or two - to make sure I do this correctly (and validate TT has similar results). And depending on their costs vs. the cost of additional state's from TT, it may be close either way...
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Harry Livermore
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by Harry Livermore »

Dead Man Walking wrote: Sun Nov 29, 2020 12:45 am
Only the federal government could turn 2 pages into 4 pages and call it simplification.
Amen.
:oops:
Cheers
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by abuss368 »

I have long prepared our taxes as I am a CPA. The older I get, the more I am leaning towards outsourcing to another CPA to free me up AND so I don’t have to retain files and supporting documents. I have it so easy, simplified, and low cost that the cost would be so low.

Keep life easy.

Best.
Tony
John C. Bogle: “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
MarkNYC
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Re: Does anyone use an accountant for personal taxes?

Post by MarkNYC »

hoffse wrote: Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:10 am I do ours. I’m a tax attorney, and professionally I find a lot of CPAs take a more aggressive view of the tax code than I do. We get a K-1 and a couple W-2’s, and we do back door Roth contributions each year. The whole thing takes maybe an hour in TurboTax (but to be fair, I keep good records and just file stuff as it comes in through the year).

My firm has offices in 20 states but files consolidated returns for its partners in all states except any given partner’s state of residence. So I only have one state return to do.
Even with tax knowledge and good records, I think it's unusual (and impressive) to be able to complete in one hour the preparation (and review) of federal and state income tax returns that include 2 W-2s, a K-1 from a mid/large law firm, federal and state estimated tax payments, back door Roth contributions, and state tax credits for tax paid to up to 20 nonresident states. That said, I would encourage those with the willingness and aptitude to prepare their own tax return to give it a try, but don't think they should expect to be able to replicate your one-hour preparation time, although some with very simple tax returns may come close.
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