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Offline fourstring

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Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« on: February 15, 2014, 08:11:25 AM »
Just did my annual 'get drunk and do taxes' last night and was shaking my head at the results.  I read and review tax returns daily, so I feel I've got a good handle on how they work and what to do, but I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't just bite the bullet and hire a guy.

Any experience?  Did it net a better result than Turbotax?  How much (roughly) does a CPA cost?

I threw out a line for a referral among the sales guys last night and got 25 good leads for a recommended guy.  I'm just worried about plunking down the cash and owing the same amount anyway.
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2014, 08:14:48 AM »
It probably won't do much good this year. They may be able to help you out moving forward though.

Online Black Hills

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 08:58:50 AM »
My wife and I have ours done by a CPA, $300.  It worth it to me as all the deductions for the horse business get confusing?  I think I actually come out ahead paying her to do it as I would miss something?
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 09:12:38 AM »
Beats going to jail for tax evasion.   


It all depends on your comfort level and wallet.  Turbotax is great if your financial situation is typical of most taxpayers, and if you are reasonably organized and have reasonably good knowledge of where your money comes from and goes.  It's cheaper than a CPA.  Otherwise you probably need a professional.   Choose wisely and don't walk in with a shoebox full of receipts.

I started doing our own taxes when I found mistakes made by a CPA.  Turbotax didn't work for us because of complicated multi-state capital gains.  Maybe I should add that I feel at least as qualified as your average CPA.  I'm not recommending you try this n your own. 
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Offline mastros2

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2014, 09:17:43 AM »
 In the past, we went to H&R Block or the equivalent which in my opinion wasn't better than TurboTax.  Last 4 years, we went to an accountant.  I wouldn't even think of going to someone else.  I highly recommend an accountant. 

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2014, 09:38:49 AM »
If you're just a regular Joe tax payer, turbo tax is OK.
A good tax accountant is worth it if you have a business, a side business, investment portfolio, etc. Don't just have him do your taxes, get him to help you plan your finances and eventually your retirement.
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Offline bluepoof

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2014, 09:42:50 AM »
If you're just a regular Joe tax payer, turbo tax is OK.
A good tax accountant is worth it if you have a business, a side business, investment portfolio, etc. Don't just have him do your taxes, get him to help you plan your finances and eventually your retirement.

^^ This.  I did my own taxes with TurboTax for years, but when Peter started his own company we switched to a CPA.  That said, it's taken us a few tries to find someone whose interests/abilities matched our goals.  The first CPA we had essentially just took our info, typed them into Turbo Tax herself, and charged us $400 for the privilege.  The guy we have now is much more interactive and also helps us with financial planning and tax advice for the business.

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2014, 11:33:33 AM »
I'll agree with everyone else. I've been using software for years and it worked well even with some moderately complicated stuff. For most situations, you'd just be paying the CPA to type it into the software for you. Now, though, we have a couple of little side businesses going and we'll turn it over to the CPA that's helping with one of them.

H&R Block type places: Just no. The one time I used them was a couple of decades ago when my situation was much simpler. I started spot checking their figures and realized we were going to jail. Complete botch job. Had to file for an extension and redo them myself. They hire a lot of their people in November and December. There is no way any of them know as much as the typical software package.

I think, fourstring, if you can do them in one evening, you're likely okay with TurboTax.
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Offline DNA

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2014, 12:30:35 PM »
My experience is similar.  I spend about $350/yr and typically do them my self initially then have the CPA do it.  Some years I am right on but one year he saved me about $2k so it has been a clear net gain over time.
Find a good pro and stay with him for years.  I still send my stuff back to VA and have him do it.


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Offline R Doug

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 12:31:56 PM »
I've used tax cut for years and it's super easy.  All you have to do is answer the questions and fill in the blanks.

However, for the past three years, my wife has been working from home as an independent contractor.  With quarterly payments and various small office deductions, we've engaged a CPA.  I consider the $450 per year as an insurance policy that our taxes are done correctly and know that we've maximized our deductions. 

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Offline coucours grad

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2014, 03:36:02 PM »
If your hire one remember the old Russian Proverb:


"Trust but verify"
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Offline mastros2

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2014, 04:56:15 PM »
Should have clarified that our taxes are a bit complicated.  Our cpa was recommended by coworkers.   

Yes, if you have minimal paperwork, turbotax will suffice.  If you have rental property, have to itemize deductions, etc, I would suggest a cpa. 

Offline mxvet57

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2014, 08:44:40 PM »
Nate, I get mine done by a friend that's a CPA. He lives on the north end of town off of Euclid between Wolf and River. And he rides motorcycles.

PM or call if interested.


I've had mine done by H&R Block in the past and they did mess up my return one year. They did pay the penalty but i had to come up with another $1200 dollars.
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Offline mxvet57

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2014, 08:48:44 PM »
.
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Offline Bigpoodle

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2014, 02:22:27 PM »
We do our own on TurboTax, then send that as a first draft to a good CPA we've used for almost ten years. That way we still have a handle on everything, and he can focus on picking off deductions we (and apparently TuboTax) don't know about. He costs us $300 and gets us an extra $1200 off the tax bill, on average.

Offline Jim

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2014, 06:25:40 PM »
IMO: It sounds like you're doing most of the work and he's still kicking you a "typical" services bill.

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Offline Keyf

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2014, 08:53:18 AM »
As an accountant, I would say hire one! My wife Julie is a CPA and we do a lot of taxes (both business and personal). As someone stated, if your return is simple or if you have a business and are up to date on business expenses, then TurboTax/Taxcut are a great option.

But what really nags people is that they may have missed something or did not really understand Turbo/Taxcut questions or deemed the question to not be important enough to follow through. We do our share of "simple" returns because our clients want the satisfaction that someone else looked at their situation and all is good. Plus, we find many of the simple returns are not that simple due to the client not realizing that they had deductions that they were not aware. For example, I interviewed a new client and even though he and his wife looked in great health,I asked if they had any unreimbursed medical expenses. They said they did and showed bills of over $19,000 ! For one year !. I asked about this sudden misfortune and they told me this had been going on like this for 5 years! I looked at their last 3 years of returns and not one medical deduction. I amended the 3 years prior returns and got back refunds for those years of $14,000. Sadly, their CPA in Texas screwed up 3 years of taxes and their CPA in NC fudged up 2 years worth.  These 2 idiots failed to ask a basic tax question and cost our clients at least $6000 in refunds.

But, the code is complex and changes every year. Add new state tax laws (here in NC, we just went to a modified Flat Tax form the former Progressive rate structure) and even a simple Sch C business return can get out of hand. It is not just the ability to do a return but to explain it to our clients so that proper tax planning of their tax burden can be managed before the next year's tax event hits them.

So, hire an accountant (one that actually does a volume of taxes) or a CPA. Goodness, we need the money.

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Offline bomber

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2014, 10:18:00 AM »
If you DO decide to go the human being advisor route, I'd suggest you get a person that will do your taxes and also advise you about other fiscal issues (401k spreads, and like that).

Otherwise, with the two of you as employees, and owning one piece of real estate, Turbo Tax will do ya fine.
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Offline Bigpoodle

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2014, 10:19:41 PM »
IMO: It sounds like you're doing most of the work and he's still kicking you a "typical" services bill.

0.02

Not really. If you just send the accountant the proverbial shoebox full of receipts and don't bother thinking about how you earned and spent the money, you are unlikely to get the best results from hired professional help. Doing the return first on TurboTax (or TaxCut, or whatever) imposes some discipline on the bare facts that will serve you well down the line. And make it easy to answer the CPA's questions. And give you a baseline for evaluating whether the CPA is coasting or really working for you. It's about a day's work, and it cuts the CPA's fee by a significant amount.

Here's the basic point. If you abdicate total responsibility for your financial decisionmaking to someone else, you are setting yourself up for a hosing. Maybe you hire great, competent, honest pros to do it all for you and it doesn't matter. But putting in a little bit of work yourself hugely raises the odds that your best interests will rule.

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2014, 07:57:55 AM »
IMO: It sounds like you're doing most of the work and he's still kicking you a "typical" services bill.

0.02

Here's the basic point. If you abdicate total responsibility for your financial decisionmaking to someone else, you are setting yourself up for a hosing. Maybe you hire great, competent, honest pros to do it all for you and it doesn't matter. But putting in a little bit of work yourself hugely raises the odds that your best interests will rule.

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2014, 08:45:11 AM »
the first year we had an accountant do out we got a $10,000 refund. I think it's worth it.
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2014, 08:49:06 AM »
the first year we had an accountant do out we got a $10,000 refund. I think it's worth it.


What would you have gotten had you done them yourself?





As others have said if you do hire one.  Trust, but verify.




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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2014, 09:20:39 AM »
the first year we had an accountant do out we got a $10,000 refund. I think it's worth it.


What would you have gotten had you done them yourself?





As others have said if you do hire one.  Trust, but verify.

not sure, but I'd never had a refund of more than $100 up to that point? There were changes (horse business) but I honestly think I would have left half of that behind had I done it myself.
the above are merely the ramblings of a hamfisted fuckwit who has broken too many helmets.

Offline mxvet57

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2014, 09:39:25 AM »
the first year we had an accountant do out we got a $10,000 refund. I think it's worth it.


Must of been some creative accounting.
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Online Black Hills

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2014, 09:56:25 AM »
the first year we had an accountant do out we got a $10,000 refund. I think it's worth it.


Must of been some creative accounting.

LOL... that was my thought, but she went through and explained all the deductions I didn't realize I could take.
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Online PatM

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2014, 10:25:53 AM »
the first year we had an accountant do out we got a $10,000 refund. I think it's worth it.


Must of been some creative accounting.

LOL... that was my thought, but she went through and explained all the deductions I didn't realize I could take.
As my accountant told me, don't claim them all. If you do, you can expect an audit.  :bluduh:
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2014, 12:12:51 PM »
Otherwise, with the two of you as employees, and owning one piece of real estate, Turbo Tax will do ya fine.

If we had just one piece of real estate, that would solve many of the issues.  It's the condo hangin' 'round our necks that's pulling us down.
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2014, 01:38:27 PM »
In the UK, it is worth hiring an accountant if you are self employed and earn more than £27k (about $40K).
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Offline bomber

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2014, 04:17:06 PM »
Otherwise, with the two of you as employees, and owning one piece of real estate, Turbo Tax will do ya fine.

If we had just one piece of real estate, that would solve many of the issues.  It's the condo hangin' 'round our necks that's pulling us down.

Oh right -- I forgot about that -- then get yer butt to an accountant, stat!
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #29 on: February 18, 2014, 06:09:07 PM »
Like others, I did my taxes for years with TurboTax. But with the advent of rental property and a home office, I needed help. The next door neighbor recommended his guy.

A knowledgeable tax accountant knows where the gray areas are and knows what triggers an audit. Very helpful with deductions - things I didn't know I could take. Also he advises me on my whole financial picture, not just taxes - as others have advised. I pay him $750.... annually. In other words, I can call him up about any question I have as things come up. He also has his Armenian mafia friends to call upon for insurance and other investments.

Oh and I take my pencil and my calculator, Sparky, and go through the whole return to make sure I understand what he's doing....  :cromag:
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Offline fourstring

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2014, 05:56:16 PM »
Well, verdict is in. CPA saved me about 2500 bucks. 250 we'll spent.
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Offline mxvet57

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2014, 05:58:04 PM »
Who did  you use?
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Offline mastros2

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2014, 10:42:43 PM »
Well, verdict is in. CPA saved me about 2500 bucks. 250 we'll spent.

That is great! 

Offline DNA

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #33 on: March 11, 2014, 11:50:36 PM »
The way I see it you are ahead for the next 8 years now so just keep going back.


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Offline bomber

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #34 on: March 12, 2014, 10:20:07 AM »
that's a helluva ROI! Well done!
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #35 on: March 12, 2014, 07:38:42 PM »
Well, verdict is in. CPA saved me about 2500 bucks. 250 we'll spent.

Can we inquire as to where the savings came from?  All in missed deductions, or was some incorrect treatment of income and expenses?  $2500 is a lot to miss.  Better in your pocket than Uncle Sam's.  Glad it worked out well for you.
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2014, 08:13:28 PM »
Who did  you use?

A dude from our old 'hood.
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Offline fourstring

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2014, 08:26:40 PM »
Well, verdict is in. CPA saved me about 2500 bucks. 250 we'll spent.

Can we inquire as to where the savings came from?  All in missed deductions, or was some incorrect treatment of income and expenses?  $2500 is a lot to miss.  Better in your pocket than Uncle Sam's.  Glad it worked out well for you.

Actually, in his opinions my prior returns were pretty aggressive too.  It mostly came down to percentages of our house considered 'office space' and mileage/usage of vehicles to maintain the rental.
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2014, 09:24:36 PM »
Thx :thumbsup: That's where professional advice pays off.
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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #39 on: March 13, 2014, 07:08:33 AM »
Until OSHA comes in and says your chair doesn't meet regulation.


















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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2014, 12:48:24 PM »
In which case, call OMB, she can fix ya right up!
We had two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

Offline R Doug

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Re: Hiring an accountant- worth it?
« Reply #41 on: March 17, 2014, 01:45:45 PM »
We submitted our tax information to the accountant last night.  Before we submitted it, we completed a draft copy of our tax returns showing a $2,000 refund. 

When the CPA is finished, we'll compare our draft attempt to his final version. 

Only motorcycle riders know why a dog sticks its head out of a car window.