How Much Help You Actually Need with Your Taxes

Because of the recent, large number of changes in this area, the subject of taxes was the main topic of discussion for the past few months. As the 2018 tax season is approaching, things aren’t going to settle down either.

However, you should not despair. No matter how complicated everything seems right now, you may not need to spend a fortune on professional help with your taxes after all.

The information below will help you decide if you really need to call up a specialist or if you can just do it all on your own:

The Easy Way: File for Free

Your situation: Let’s say you’re a filer with a couple of savings account interest, a few stock dividends and at least one W2 forms from employers. Since you don’t have any significant deductions, you consider going for the standard deduction.

Your plan: In this case, chances are you’ll be able to do your taxes for free using certified tools that help you out. Of course, some of them aren’t entirely free, but they are cheap enough compared to other options. Here are a couple of useful resources:

  • This Free File tool designed by the IRS gives you everything you need to file your taxes. It is designed for those who make less than $66,000 a year in adjusted gross income.
  • Credit Karma Tax is a free filing service that has a 24-hour live chat so you can get plenty of guidance anytime. Do note that this company will use your information to make future recommendations and send you partner offers later on
  • H&R Block More Zero is another free option with live chat support. Their services are great for donations, mortgage interest or retirement plan income guidance.


Middle of the Road: File for Under $100

Your situation: Although there may be a couple of complications included in your scenario, a professional will probably fix it in no time. This option is viable if you are, for example, a homeowner, you are self-employed with minimal expenses (like a freelance writer or consultant) or you itemize your deductions.

Your plan: You will most likely be required to file a 1040 form and perhaps a schedule C form for gig economy members (Uber driver or small business owner). In order to get your taxes done in time, you can always opt for a paid-for tax software that offers you everything you need. Here are some options you’ll find useful:

  • TaxAct is a free resource with ‘Plus’ paid-for options designed for homeowners, itemizers and vilers with investments, as well as freelancer services for self-employed filers.
  • H&R Block is normally free, but features a ‘Deluxe’ option for homeowners and itemizers. The additional ‘Premium’ version is meant to help investors and property owners.
  • TurboTax also has a ‘Deluxe’ option for itemizers, while the ‘Premier’ version helps investors and those who own rental property.


Complicated: Get Ready to Pay (Not That Much, Though)

Your situation: You are a small/large business owner or a partner in a business. You might have had a special event this year (such as a marriage, divorce or home sale). If you had a lot of income from investments or you rent your own property.

Your plan: Considering your situation, you’ll probably file a 1040 form along with a couple of other forms, such as a schedule E form (if you rent your properties or you’re a company partner). If you’re okay with online filing, you still won’t have that much to take out of your pocket, but if you’re not, you’ll probably have to hire a specialist in the domain. Here are your main options:

  • Certain tax software companies offer self-employed filing services for small business owners. H&R Block, for instance, costs $74.99, while TurboTax requires $88.99. When it comes to TurboTax, they also have a Live option where you can video chat with an expert in the domain or a registered agent.
  • If you’re currently building your own business, it’s probably best to go for CPA or Enrolled Agent because they prepare you for individual income taxes, as well as company-related taxes. They are also very professional regardless of how complicated your portfolio is. However, to be honest, it is a little pricey. According to Iliana Malinov, HLB Gross Collins tax services director, says that complex individual returns start at $1,500 and may go higher depending on the case.

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