So you’ve spent the last month dreading the thought of doing your tax return, but the day has come and you know it’s time to get it over with. You sit down and pull up your tax sofware, and start answering questions. Name? check Address? check….Then, you run into that question that you’re unsure about. It might be the number of deductions you can take, whether you are eligible for this credit, or how many business expenses you can claim. Whatever it is, you don’t want to get it wrong and have the IRS come knocking at your door. But, you have other work that needs to get done, and you just want to get this darn tax return over with!
When you can’t get a quick answer from the TaxQuips forum, here are three options you should consider that I’ve tried and tested over the years. Each one has its pros and cons.
- The free solution – The IRS actually offers a free helpline at 1-800-TAX 1040 (800-829-1040) that you can call to get tax filing help. Since it’s a free service (besides the – 40 minute wait time), it doesn’t hurt to try this one out. If you’re lucky, you’ll get in contact with an enrolled agent who can help you with your question. However, the help service is notoriously spotty, with a recent Washington Times study showing 3 out of 10 people who call the toll-free helpline won’t get through to a human being, and those that do are often redirected to the IRS website. In fact, the IRS itself warns you that you cannot rely on information you get from their printed or verbal guidance.
- The costly solution – Hiring a last-minute Enrolled Agent, CPA or tax assistant to answer your question is also a popular solution (especially for business owners). However, be aware that this costs anywhere from $100-500 per hour, depending on complexity, and is limited as to availability as the tax deadline approaches. The benefit here is, you will be getting someone to do your taxes for you, whose job is to keep up to date with the current tax code.
- The happy medium – a NEW RESOURCE – There’s a clever new website called Task.fm that offers a place where tax professionals will answer your personalized tax questions quickly for a set cost. For those of you with one-off questions that need to be answered, I would highly recommend looking into this. For an affordable rate (~$20), you get an Enrolled Agent or CPA who will answer your question in a short while. Not a bad deal if you ask me!
All said and done, what you’re looking for is a quick, accurate, and affordable answer to your tax questions.
If you have the disposable income and are willing to pay for someone to do your taxes, hire an Enrolled Agent or CPA (make sure you do your due diligence!).
If you are willing to do the gritty work of reading and understanding the tax code yourself, use the IRS helpline.
If you just want an answer quickly for an affordable rate, go to Task.fm . (Click here to bookmark).
Note: TaxMama and graduates of TaxMama’s Online Enrolled Agent Exam Review Course are among the tax professionals prowling this site to provide answers for you.