Confused About Taxes? Common Questions to Ask
By: Kia Imani Robinson
As you get older there are certain things that become a little more important. For example, April 18, 2017 isn’t just another Tuesday this year. In fact, this particular Tuesday is Tax Day, which means we have about six weeks to figure this out.
As with many “adulting” tasks, there are countless questions as one prepares for Tax Day. The tax process will not be the same for everyone so it’s important to understand how it will work for you. I spoke with Lisa Pegram, CEO and Founder of ITemind, a tax preparation service in Los Angeles, about the important questions to ask regarding tax preparation and filing taxes as we prepare for April 18.
Do I have the proper documents?
There are a number of necessary documents you’ll need in order to thoroughly file your taxes. Our What You Need to Successfully File Your Taxes article can help you gather all the required paperwork. You want to make sure you have all of your W-2 forms, 1099 forms, proper identification and receipts from charitable donations and business-related purchases. (I was thinking we could hyperlink the other piece in this answer to drive readers to that piece as well)
Who is going to file my taxes?
For most adults in first few years of first job, your taxes are not going to be very complicated and there’s a great chance that you can file them yourself. “Ask yourself, ‘How convoluted are my taxes?’ Do you even need an accountant?” Lisa said. Accountants come with a price and it’s always a good idea to save money when and where you can. If you decide to do your taxes yourself, you can visit sites like TurboTax.com or ezTaxReturn.com.
How do I go about seeking an accountant?
Many people file their own taxes but as beginners it’s always helpful to have some guidance and assistance. If you decide to seek an accountant for guidance, you want to make sure the accountant is right for you. “What are the accountant’s typical clients? Like every profession, people are experts at what they deal with more often,” Lisa shared. As previously stated, the tax process isn’t going to be the same for everyone so you want to make sure your accountant is well-versed in your particular needs.
How much is an accountant?
Accountants are amazing because they provide adequate guidance with filing taxes. However, they also come with a price. “Some accountants charge by the hour and others bill a flat rate,” Lisa explained. When it comes to pricing and fees, “this is something you should get up front,” Lisa advised. You want to make sure you don’t end up paying just as much as you get back. “Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way,” she says.
Is your accountant conservative or more aggressive?
If you decide to seek an accountant, it’s important to know his or her history. “Some accountants want to write off everything they possibly can, while others take a more conservative approach,” Lisa said. Ask what kind of advice your accountant usually shares with their clients. Lisa always suggests a more aggressive approach.
Kia is a recent college graduate that's simply trying to grasp the concept of "adulting". She enjoys hugs, quotes, a good book, and all things motivational. Her favorite book is The Alchemist and she can watch Girlfriends all day long.