The Many Ways to Do Your Taxes
Tax to the Max
By Kendra Kaiserman
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holiday season – it’s tax season. But don’t worry, you have plenty of options when it comes to filing your federal and state taxes. Here are some questions to think about before you start:
• Am I filing my taxes on my own or with a spouse?
• Am I claiming anyone on my taxes?
• Do I have my W-2s and other forms necessary to complete my taxes?
• What’s my budget for filing my taxes this year?
• Do I want help or do I want to do my taxes on my own?
• Is filing my taxes going to be complex or simple?
If your taxes are going to be complex or if you just want some help doing them, a number of local places can help. National tax preparation services including H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax Service have locations in the North State. Local tax preparation services include CTS4Taxes and others.
Joe Dorko, manager of Jackson Hewitt in Redding, says any taxpayer can benefit from professional tax services. “There’s a lot of deductions and credits people miss without seeking a tax professional,” Dorko says. “There are 70,000 pages of tax code. Everybody’s unique and that’s why it’s best to ask the tax professionals so we can sit down and tailor to the specific situation. There’s a lot of credits people don’t know about, such as if you pay for child care.”
Others prefer to use accounting firms, particularly if they have complex tax situations, such as owning a business or inheriting money during the prior year.
“We do a wide variety of services, from families to individuals to businesses. But we have a large majority of business clients,” says Lori Stillie, firm administrator at Evanhoe, Kellogg & Company CPAs Inc. “My biggest tip would be with all the changes currently with Affordable Care Act and all the changes with IRS laws, it’s imperative that people get help from a good tax professional.”
Stillie says, “Good documentation and keeping track of all your backup paperwork is really essential and making sure that if you do work for someone, that you are withholding the correct amount.”
If your taxes aren’t complicated, you may opt to do them yourself. Numerous online programs are available, and some are free, if your taxes are simple enough.
And if you find yourself wishing you would have gotten started earlier, consider getting a jump start next year. Many tax preparation services are open year-round so “you can always come in and ask a tax professional and they can help you come up with a tax plan strategy,” Dorko says.
Tax Day is April 18.