Should I hire an accountant?

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. I’ve always done my own taxes. At what point should I consider an accountant? I have a salary, no kids, some investments and a spouse with the same.
— Do-it-yourselfer

A. The fact that you are thinking about hiring some help may very well signal that now is the time.

If you have nothing but a salary and some investment income you are probably filing a short form return and there’s probably no need to hire an accountant, said Gregory Chebuske, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

But if you own a home, make substantial charitable contributions or have large medical bills, you may be better off filing form 1040 and itemizing on your return, he said.

Then if you have 1099 income or business income, if you’ve sold any stocks or bonds, have a rental property or have sold your home, your return can get much more complicated and the risk of missing an allowable deduction increases drastically, Chebuske said.

“If that is the case I would certainly suggest that using a professional could provide a better overall result, and perhaps even more importantly, provide peace of mind when it comes to filing your return,” he said.

Using a professional will not only provide you with a preparer that has been trained in the rules and regulations surrounding the tax code, but will also provide you with an advocate to represent you in the event that the IRS decides to audit your return.

“Remember you are ultimately the one responsible for the accuracy of your return, however being called by the IRS for audit can be an intimidating experience and having a professional at your side can make a huge difference in the final outcome,” he said.

Chebuske said the final decision is yours, but he believes that if you’re filing anything other than a short form, the cost of a professional tax preparer will pay for itself in potential tax savings that an untrained individual may miss. You’ll also gain the confidence that your return has been filed correctly.

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NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.