Tax season can be stressful for the millions of Americans filing their returns before the April 15th deadline. According to data from the IRS, in 2017, 143.3 million taxpayers paid $1.6 trillion in individual income taxes. About 42% of those individuals prepared their own returns, but in some cases, that process is just too complicated.
At Marcia Campbell, CPA we hear a lot of personal stories about situations where tax help is needed for an aging parent or a deceased loved one. Recently, a woman reached out to our team because her 92-year-old father reached a point where he could no longer prepare his own taxes. Another woman contacted our firm after her husband passed away; he had always prepared their returns. She had no idea where to start or what paperwork she needed. These are just a few examples of when it may be time to seek out professional help.
If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips to get you on the right track.
Research the Benefits
Taxes are complicated and ever-changing. That’s why discussing your situation with an adviser can help narrow down exactly what you or your loved one qualifies for. When an aging parent can no longer prepare their own taxes, seeking a professional, especially one that specializes in helping seniors with financial services, can take just a fraction of the time.
Working with a professional also ensures mistakes that can cause problems with the IRS are avoided. Tax errors can be very expensive.
Ask a Friend or Family Member
When looking for a tax professional, ask your friends, family, and colleagues who they use and what their experience has been in the past. If they’re happy with the results and their financial lives and issues are similar to yours or your loved ones, this is a sign their recommendation may be a good fit.
Search for Tax Professionals Online
Just Google it. Doing research online can provide you with a number of professionals in your area. Visit their website, look at the services they provide and the testimonials or reviews they’ve received from clients. The IRS also recommends you make sure the preparer has a Preparer Tax Identification Number.
Don’t be afraid to do a little digging and look for professional organizations the preparer may belong to, how long they’ve been preparing tax returns, and their educational background.
Pick Up The Phone
Once you’ve found a tax professional online or through word of mouth, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Oftentimes, tax preparers are willing to answer any further questions you may have about the process. If the tax professional makes you feel comfortable over the phone, this may be a good indication you’ve found someone you can trust.
Not sure where to start? Schedule time with Marcia Campbell, CPA.
Marcia L. Campbell, CPA is committed to helping each client thrive by caring for their personal and financial wellbeing with genuine interest, well-established expertise, and a focus on respectful partnership.
If you need help with your finances, please contact us by filling out a Contact Form or giving our office a call at +1(951)686-3608.