With taxes due in exactly one week, procrastinators everywhere are scrambling to finish their taxes so as to avoid the IRS radar. My initial advice is to not wait until the week before taxes are due before starting them. However, we are a busy society and if you find that you are a procrastinator, that advice is too little, too late. As an attorney, many of my family members have asked me if I do taxes. The truth is that I was never very good at numbers and I dread doing my taxes more than the average person. Being an attorney and having some knowledge of the tax laws, you would think that I would be willing to endure that torture in order to avoid paying an accountant. The truth is that the process and anticipation is too painful. This year, I hired an accountant to do my taxes.
It is not that I don’t know how to fill out a 1040, its just that my taxes are no longer simple and even if they were, I don’t enjoy filling out a 1040. My disdain for doing my own taxes is such that I encourage our government to change the income based tax system to something less citizen-accountant driven. The only problem with that kind of extensive overhaul is that it would put all accountants out of business, which might be counter-productive.
Although attorneys are capable of doing your taxes, an average attorney is not necessarily going to do a better job than an accountant, and the attorney is probably going to charge more. If you do have an attorney complete your taxes, my advice is to choose an attorney that practices tax law. Find an attorney that you know has done yours or someone else’s taxes in the past. Although you won’t find me preparing individual tax returns for clients, other attorneys market that practice area and are good at it. Remember: Just because your attorney agrees to do the work, does not mean that your attorney is good at it or has experience doing it. It is your job to check credentials, if you don’t, you may find yourself in an expensive, intrusive, & exhausting audit.