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Hiring a tax pro versus doing your taxes yourself

The decision can come down to whether your tax situation has changed substantially.

It's time to start thinking about your 2017

It's time to start thinking about your 2017 taxes and assessing whether you'll go it alone or hire someone to help prepare and file your return with the Internal Revenue Service. Photo Credit: AP/Susan Walsh

Some tasks you handle yourself to save money and to get the job done without waiting for an appointment.

When it comes to preparing your tax return though, should you DIY or hire a pro?

  • When you can go it alone

“If your income and filing status don’t change much from year to year, then you might be OK doing your own taxes a bit longer,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax & Consulting in Rockville Centre.

You’re also a good candidate to do your own return if you’re single, with no dependents and only one steady source of income, because your taxes will probably be pretty straightforward.

If you are computer savvy, you’ll be up for keeping track of your receipts and statements digitally and using tax preparation software.

“Do your homework and be sure it is a reputable program,” advises Leslie Tayne, a Melville lawyer specializing in financial issues.

  • Turn to a pro

Often, change triggers hiring someone. If you started a new business or expanded your company, your financials might look different than they did in 2016. If you got married, divorced, became widowed or had a child, there might be major changes to your filing status or allowed deductions. “If you’re not sure what all these changes mean for your tax return, there’s no reason to risk doing it wrong,” says Zimmelman.

When you don’t understand the changes in the new tax laws, it’s a good time to ask for outside help.

  • Get the best help

Ask people you know and trust for a referral. You can get an enrolled agent, accountant or CPA. Says Dennis Klein, a CPA and partner with Nussbaum Yates Berg Klein & Wolpow, LLP in Melville, “The bottom line — you want someone who will listen carefully to you, understand your situation, and not treat like you are just another return to get out the door. Hire someone with solid credentials.”

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