7 On Your Side has advice on choosing a tax specialist

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Tax Day is next Monday, April 18. If you haven't done them yet, how do you decide whether to do them yourself or hire a specialist? 7 On Your Side has today's tax tip. (KGO-TV)

Tax Day is next Monday, April 18. If you haven't done them yet, how do you decide whether to do them yourself or hire a specialist?

If you decide you want to hire someone, beware. The people charging to do your taxes come with a wide range of qualifications.

Experts recommend hiring someone to do your taxes if your situation is complex, like if you have a foreign income or get paid royalties.

If you decide to go to a tax professional, be ready to do your research.

"There's a whole range of people out there hanging out their shingle doing taxes and some are better than others," said Stephanie Zimmerman from ABC's "The Fixer."

Beware, many states have no education requirement for a tax preparer. But there are search tools professionals can register on IRS.gov and you can search those names.

"You have tax lawyers, you have CPAs, you have enrolled agents, and then you just have people who are doing taxes who aren't really certified by anybody. You need to check their qualifications really carefully," Zimmerman said.

Also ask about cost and guarantees up front.

"Many will offer a guarantee if you get audited," Zimmerman said.

That way you don't be surprised by extra fees when it's all said and done.

If you decide to go at it alone, it could save you money.

A good do-it-yourself software program for a federal return costs about $35.

There is a free option for people making $62,000 a year or less - the IRS is offering free file, software that will ask all the standard questions and look for credits you may have missed.

Remember, tax software usually includes a helpline, so you can call and someone will help if you get confused.

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Related Topics:
finance7 On Your SidetaxesIRSconsumer concerns
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