Surviving in a World of “DIY” Taxes: How Accountants and CPAs Show Their Worth

Tax preparation software has made it seemingly easier for non-accountants to complete their tax returns, but here in PA, there are many reasons why taxpayers should use an accounting professional instead.

Who needs a tax accountant?

Taxpayers with simple financial situations may be able to handle tax preparation without a tax professional’s help. Those with a W-2 or a couple 1099s and no complicated investments or loans may find it easy enough to plug in a few numbers. But the more complex life becomes and the more involved a person’s finances become, the more they will need a professional. 

Some examples of when it’s best for a taxpayer to hire an accountant include:

  • Opening of a small business or buying into a partnership
  • Purchase of a rental property, home, or property to flip
  • Foreign income, cryptocurrency, bitcoin, etc.
  • Online business
  • Purchases that could be subject to depreciation
  • Stock options, sale of investments
  • Calculation of estimated quarterly tax payments
  • Major life changes, such as marriage or divorce, retirement or job change, new baby or adoption
  • Uncertainty, discomfort, or lack of time to do taxes properly

Most of these different situations would require different forms and a plethora of rules and exceptions. File the wrong form and the taxpayer risks an audit. Miss a deduction or exemption and the taxpayer loses money. 

Tax planning

The biggest advantage you have as a tax professional is your expert advice. Few people have the time or inclination to become experts in the complicated U.S. tax code. Turning to an expert with questions rather than “googling” just makes good financial sense.

Taxpayers with more complicated finances benefit from tax planning strategies that will help them save money in future years. Without your suggestions, they could be forking over much more money to Uncle Sam than they need to. Estate planning is also something individuals generally cannot do well themselves without your expertise.

Show your value

Demonstrate to potential clients the value that you offer them, beyond just preparing their taxes. Focus on your ability to answer questions, allay their fears, and avoid audits. Demonstrate your ongoing value in helping them plan for future tax savings, retirement funds, and estates for their loved ones. Point out the value of being the professional who coordinates with their other financial advisors to ensure a consistent strategy that will maximize tax advantages and ensure the greatest financial benefits.

By emphasizing the value you offer your target market, you will be able to draw in your ideal clientele and succeed in the DIY world.