By now, most people have received their tax forms and financial documents. This means that taxpayers are ready to get their tax returns completed and filed. The final step for most people involves choosing a tax preparation software, like Turbo Tax or H&R Block. For this year, that decision is a little bit more difficult. Companies have added new features this time around.
For instance, Turbo Tax now offers a mobile experience that’s identical to its desktop version. Users on iOS and Android devices will use exactly what desktop users do. Taxpayers can seamlessly switch from one version to another. Plus, all tax documents can be uploaded from a smartphone’s camera with ease.
H&R Block, TaxAct, and Turbo Tax are offering their software for free once again. Unlike previous years, users can access more features through free versions. Most companies are going to charge extra for state returns, but Turbo Tax is offering the service free of charge to simple return users.
Also, it’s important to note that CD versions of tax prep software are mostly gone. Users will have to access the software over the Internet. This won’t affect too many users, although some taxpayers prefer the disk versions of their favorite software. For most companies, the install CD is still available, but that won’t be true in a couple of years.
More and more features have been added to Turbo Tax and other tax preparation software. As soon as users pass the Turbo Tax login, they will notice some of these changes!
For the self-employed, tax time can be an entirely different experience than for those who are either employed by another company or own their own business. Being self-employed means that you are technically both an employer and an employee, and are at times responsible for paying taxes on issues that affect both.
Taxes are already complex enough for the average individual, but that situation is exacerbated by your current status. As a result, it may be wise to talk to an accountant, as they can not only find special deductions and benefits, but save you the time and anxiety of having to figure out your tax status.
1. Special Rules
In the United States, every working individual is responsible for paying tax for Social Security and Medicare. However, the amount of tax paid is typically split between the employer and employee, whereas with a self-employed person they are responsible for both. This is just one of a number of different rules and forms that change as a result being self-employed. Having a certified accountant will help you sort through the brambles and not have to worry about an audit.
2. Loopholes and Tricks
Regardless of what type of situation you are in, it’s never a bad idea to consult an accountant as they are far more educated on how to maximize your tax return. Every year the government passes legislation or makes changes to the tax code that affects businesses of all types. Special credits and other tax friendly programs may also be introduced but not publicized to the general public.
Accountants are paid to keep abreast of such situations and how they apply to their various clients. In fact, many of the special tax benefits and tricks apply specifically to those who own a business, and having an accountant experienced with the self-employed may end up saving you far more than the cost of the hiring one.
Even if you are willing to sift through the morass of new forms, rules and special deductions and exemptions, the one thing you will inevitably lose is time. Paying an accountant to do your taxes will save you time to concentrate on running your business. Depending on how much income you can generate with that time, it may be that it’s more cost effective to earn money to pay for an accountant than do your taxes for free.
4. Advice and Audits
Accountants can also be relied upon for advice as to how to avoid certain tax penalties or qualify for specific deductions or exemptions. For example, as you can deduct equipment purchases over a single year or over a extended period of time, you can consult them on which deduction works best for your business. If you are by chance audited, a qualified professional can assist you with the process.
5. Online Alternatives
For some self-employed individuals, it can be very difficult to pay for an accountant given their limited financial resources. Relying on an accountant, however, doesn’t necessarily mean relying on a living person. Accounting software can be just as adept at finding the best deductions provided you give it the information they require.
As a result online software is best reserved for those that have relatively simple situations, especially self-employed individuals who will likely be using the standard deduction for much of their taxes.
John Hill writes on behalf of Public Liability Insurance dot org an online resource for business insurance including childrens liability insurance.