Who Should Not Prepare Their Own Tax Returns
By Steven A Leahy
My last post was directed to those who should prepare their own returns. Remember, for the majority of people, preparing your own return makes sense; it may save you money, allows you to maintain control and may increase your understanding of your financial situation. But preparing a return isn’t right for everyone.
For those who own property or investments, own a business, are recently married, divorced or had a child, or if you aren’t a “numbers” person, aren’t interested in keeping up with changes in tax law, don’t understand the tax jargon on irs.gov, and prefer not to spend your free time working for the IRS, it makes sense to hire a tax professional to help you with your annual tax return.
Preparing your own taxes costs less up-front. According to the IRS, the average taxpayer filing a 1040 form (68% of all filiers) will spend 22 hours filing their taxes. It breaks down like this: form completion (4 hours), record keeping (10 hours), tax planning (3 hours), form submission (1 hour), “other” (3 hours). The average cost to hire a tax professional to prepare 1040 tax return is around $250.
Generally, I recommend tax preparation to avoid a tax audit. Having a professional prepare your tax return is not a guarantee you will not be audited – but it does cut down the odds. The IRS looks for “red flags.” Tax professionals can reduce, or eliminate red flags. Also, having a professional prepare your tax returns insulates you from the IRS. We prepare tax returns, but I always have a independent third party prepare my personal tax return and the business tax returns.
Those who are in an ongoing installment agreement, currently not collectible or were recently granted an offer-in-compromise should do all they can to ensure that there tax returns are prepared and filed on time. If the filing the return is delayed for ANY reason, you may find the agreement cancelled. Yes, the IRS can even rescind an accepted offer-in-compromise after the fact.
When the IRS accepts an offer in compromise, part of the agreement requires the taxpayer to remain in compliance for at least the next five years. That means the taxpayer must file all tax returns and pay all taxes due on time for the next five years. If the IRS calls an offer in compromise in default, the IRS will begin collecting what was originally owed.
Many who fall behind on their taxes are procrastinators at heart. Therefore, those who have a history of IRS problems should not wait until April to begin thinking about preparing their tax returns. The consequences are just too great. Get in front of the problem.
I recommend the IRS Protection Plan offered by Opem Tax Resolution and the Law Office of Steven A. Leahy, PC. This program anticipates the tax compliance requirements including, timely tax preparation, on-going IRS monitoring, resolution of IRS actions (cancellation of installment agreements or currently not collectible status and defaulting an offer in compromise). In addition, developing a relationship with a tax team will give you access to tax planning to avoid IRS problems in the future and minimize your tax burden.
If you are considering hiring a tax professional to complete your 2014 tax return, consider giving Opem Tax Resolutions and The Law Office of Steven A. Leahy, PC a call. We prepare old unfiled tax returns, as well as current returns. So, if you are a number of years behind in your filing, we can help get you in compliance with the IRS. Call (312) 664-6649 today and ask Bonnie to set up a time to talk me about your tax returns.