Are tax professionals worth it?


Fact Box

  • According to the National Association of Tax Professionals, the average charge for preparing and filing a tax return is about $200.
  • Fifty-three percent of taxpayers reported using a paid tax professional in 2021. However, Gen Z was less likely to use a professional than any other age group. 
  • Taxpayers can prepare their taxes for free through tax preparation software like TurboTax or H&R Block. 
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports that it takes nearly 20 hours to complete the average tax return with deductions.
  • Pew Research found that in 2020, taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) of $1 million or more faced average effective tax rates exceeding 25%. Taxpayers with AGIs between $2 and 10 million faced the highest rates, nearly 28%. Those with AGIs of $10 million or more were taxed at 25.5%, mainly due to their income composition, which includes more dividends and long-term capital gains taxed at lower rates than “ordinary income.”

Elisa (No)

Hiring a tax professional is not only expensive but unnecessary. Filing your taxes yourself isn't 'dumb or hard' but is fairly easy. Modern tax programs are incredibly user-friendly for users of various technological abilities, guiding you through the procedure in easy-to-understand steps, regardless of the service you select. It's worth it to file your taxes yourself.

Filing your own taxes makes you more aware of the intricacies of your specific financial situation, even helping you find ways to reduce costs in certain areas, including not paying someone high fees to file paperwork. Increasing knowledge of your finances makes you more likely to take greater care in your future financial decisions. Likewise, filing your own taxes doesn’t mean you're alone while doing it. Most programs have experts available to help you for free; there is a tremendous amount of free information online on how to do taxes yourself. 

Tax professionals can scam people with various schemes as they are not always trustworthy. Tax preparers may demonstrate negligence and misconduct, like submitting tax returns with errors or without proper information, falsifying information on tax forms, or offering dishonest advice to clients. All of which could lead to severe problems for their clients, like paying the wrong tax amount and, therefore, facing legal consequences. Even big companies like Jackson Hewitt have been sued, making the tax preparer industry not exactly a ‘bastion of reliability.' 

Moreover, dealing with tax preparers often involves a lot of hassle, especially when setting appointments, communicating, and sending information. Filing taxes on your own simplifies the process altogether. There’s no need to waste your hard-earned money on something you can do yourself. Completing your own taxes means taking a 'major life milestone' toward independence and prosperity.

James (Yes)

Tax professionals, such as certified public accountants (CPAs) and tax attorneys, are worth every penny for many reasons. First and foremost, their expertise in tax laws is invaluable. These experts possess an intricate knowledge of the ever-evolving and complex tax codes and regulations. Their understanding ensures that individuals and businesses file their taxes accurately and comply with the law. This brings peace of mind and minimizes the risk of facing penalties or legal troubles due to errors. 

One of the most significant advantages of hiring tax professionals is the time they save. Tax preparation can be time-consuming and stressful, but professionals handle all the intricacies, allowing clients to focus on their core responsibilities. This time-saving benefit is precious for businesses, enabling them to concentrate on running their operations effectively.

Moreover, tax professionals excel in error reduction. They meticulously review every detail to ensure that all deductions, credits, and documentation are in order, significantly reducing the risk of costly tax errors and audits. Likewise, the deductions and tips they often uncover can more than justify their fees. These professionals are certified, trained, and experienced, with a keen ability to identify opportunities to save money and optimize your tax strategy. In the unfortunate event of an audit, tax professionals can also offer their clients the critical support they need. 'Enrolled agent' tax professionals can even provide cover and mitigation during an audit attempt. Other tax professionals offer essential guidance and representation, helping clients navigate the audit process effectively and reducing potential penalties and liabilities. Their experience and expertise can make a massive difference in protecting your financial interests during an audit and even preventing an audit from happening.

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