Taxing Times Ahead!

George Reilly |

Opening your mail in January can be an unpleasant task. Not only do you see the credit card statements for all of those special Christmas gifts and activities you start seeing lots of mail items with a notice that it contains "Important Income Tax Information." This can only mean that the march to April 15th has begun. Time to start thinking about gathering your tax information and deciding if you want to prepare your own return or use the services of a professional.

Income tax software can make the tax return preparation process much less painful than the old days of paper returns and stubby pencils. But less painful does not mean easy! Nor does it mean foolproof. We recently prepared a 1040X amended tax return for a client who prepared his own return using a very popular software program. For unknown reasons the software either steered the client or at least permitted him to make two major errors that actually cost him more in his tax bill. But this may have been an anomaly as many people buy and use this product and similar ones.

What if you just don't want to prepare your own taxes this year. What are your options? Certainly if you have an accountant for a business or other reasons that would be a likely first choice. You may also know of an Enrolled Agent in your area. These are tax professionals certified by the IRS. Of course there are the chain tax preparation services in storefronts or even in grocery and discount stores. While these chains often have many experienced tax preparers on staff there is no guarantee that the person working on your return is one of them. You may want to ask about that before entrusting your personal financial information to a chain preparer.

Finally your financial advisor or attorney may also offer income tax preparation services. Safe Harbor has a Federal and state tax preparation and e-filing program for its clients and others interested in a comprehensive tax experience. Safe Harbor's principal, George Reilly, is an attorney who formerly served as the Navy's Tax Counsel and supervised the Navy-Marine Corps electronic tax filing service. He is also admitted to the U.S. Tax Court.

Find out more about Safe Harbor's tax preparation service by calling 703-829-7233 (SAFE).