How Should You File Your Taxes? (A Comparison of the Best Tools and Resources)


There are lots of ways you can file your taxes, each with it's own benefits and costs. Here's a comparison of some ways to file your taxes.Tax season is flying by. Soon enough the April deadline will be here and we can all put the stress and uncertainty of tax time behind us. In the meantime, you have to choose how you will file your taxes wisely.

Going with the most affordable and least painful option requires quite a bit of research and consideration. What works for someone may not work so well for you so you have to keep that in mind along with your tax needs their year.

In this post, I’ll highlight some of the most popular and effective routes you can take when it comes to filing your taxes so the process and be quick and painless.

Go the Traditional Route With an Accountant

Hiring a CPA (certified public accountant) to file your taxes is one of the safest routes to take because accountants know the tax code like the back of their hand and some might even specialize in the type of service you are looking for.
For example, if you are a freelancer or business owner, hiring a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to help you manage your tax documents and file each year is a safe move especially if you have a very complex situation that requires an expert’s attention.

If you own a home and work a few side hustles throughout the year to bring in extra money, your tax situation may be more complex than someone who is single, a renter, and works just one job.

When choosing the right accountant, you may want to ask for referrals or research local professionals in your area. Being able to meet with someone in person can help put your mind at ease and make the communication process simpler.

There are many different accountants to choose for, so be sure to settle on someone who has a proven track record and specializes in what you need. This will only help ensure that your taxes are filed as accurately as possible.

If you invest a lot, you’ll want to work with someone who knows how to help you get all the investing tax benefits you deserve.

Try a Local Tax Preparation Office

Another option you have when filing your taxes is to go to local tax preparation office. There are many popular franchises with trained accountants and tax preparers who can help file all your tax documents.

While the staff at local tax preparation offices are often trained and certified, all of them might not be accountants and their experience may be varied. Also, you probably won’t get to choose who you work with to file your taxes unless you know someone personally and request to meet with them.

However, tax preparation offices do offer some benefits like their often quick services and processes along with more affordable fees and discounts when compared to a traditional accountant.

I’ve tried going to a local tax preparation office before and I like how easy it is to get in and get out. However, I still ended up paying a higher fee around $200-$300 to file my taxes which was based on the complexity of my situation.

I highly recommend asking for a discount though as this could help you save on fees. Most offices have tons of deals and promotions going on at tax time if you wish to file your taxes quickly.

The only issue I have with the quick nature of this type of service is that it may be easier for the person filing your taxes to make a mistake or miss something.

Since they don’t work with you personally on a regular basis like your own accountant might, it may be easier to make a mistake but I’d recommend you bring your tax forms in from previous years so they can reference that and get more of a feel for your situation.

Here are several ways to file your taxes, along with their pros and cons. Click To Tweet

Filing Your Own Taxes

Thanks to the simple processes of e-filing, filing your own taxes is now easier than ever. There are even affordable programs to help walk you through the process step-by-step like E-file.com, TaxAct.com, and TurboTax.com.

I’ve never tried filing my own taxes before with any of these systems, but my husband has and he liked it.
Plus the program he used wasn’t that expensive and most tax software programs start at around $35 and allow you to set up direct deposit if you receive a refund.

When you think about it, everything is available online these days and if you pay someone to file your taxes, they are most likely using a user-friendly software program that helps them streamline the process as well.

If you want to go this route, you’ll need to use a trusted program that will break down the process and walk you through it step-by-step.

Also, make sure the software program stores all the information you’ve submitted so you can access it the following year. The programs I mentioned above all do this.

Nevertheless, this is the most cost-efficient option especially for entry-level workers or college students who don’t want to pay a ton of fees during tax time.

It All Comes Down To What Works Best For You

These are the three most common and trusted ways to file your taxes but no option is better than the other. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what works best for you. Only you know what your current situation is best and what you feel comfortable with.

If you have a more complex situation that is difficult to understand and sort through, you might be willing to pay more to hire an accountant especially if you are looking to develop a long-term relationship with someone who can help with your taxes.

If you know some things about tax preparation and have very simple needs at this time, you may be more willing to try e-filing on your own.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you store a copy of your tax forms in a safe place each year and go over everything more than once to check for accuracy. Even professionals can make mistakes too so you can’t be completely oblivious to the tax filing process and the types of information you’ll need.

Start by deciding which option would work best for you, then conduct research and ask for referrals and a proven track record so you can decide with confidence.

How do you usually file your taxes? Are you making any changes for this year?