Financial Advice: How Much Should You Pay For Tax Prep?

There’s no doubt about the fact that the United States tax code and the process of tax preparation within the United States have become extremely complicated. If an IRS Commissioner has resorted to hiring tax professionals for the sake of filling and preparing tax returns, then the situation is truly outside of the control of many people today.

People should still try to keep things in perspective when it comes to how much they are willing to pay for the services of tax professionals. The National Society of Accountants has managed to give people some averages that they can work with when it comes to getting a sense of what they are going to spend on tax preparation.

Based on 2014 numbers, a 1040 without itemized deductions and with a state return will cost around 159 dollars on average. A 1040 with state return and Schedule A itemized deductions will cost around 273 dollars. A 1040 with a state return, Schedule A itemized deductions, and Schedule C business income deductions will cost people around 447 dollars.

Many people are going to go to Liberty Tax Service and H&R Block, and a tax return will cost around 147 dollars at H&R Block and 191 dollars at Liberty Tax Service. The annual reports from the firms give this impression. There might be some variations, but people should expect to pay around 150 to 200 dollars for their tax returns from services like these.

In the Pacific Coast and New England, people will often expect to pay more money for these same services. Tax and income situations that are more complex are going to raise the expenses associated with what people will have to pay for their tax returns.

There are tax professionals that will use set fees for their schedules and the individual forms. Many tax professionals will just charge based on the actual time that it takes to complete anything, which tends to be a better deal. Others will charge according to the average amount of time that it should take to complete anything. However, the firms that will charge a flat fee for each tax return might be easier for some people to ultimately use since at least they always know what to expect.

However, the fee should not be based on the percentage of a person’s tax refund. There are professionals who try to do this, and this is never the way to move forward. If the tax professional gets incentive pay by the number of returns that he or she prepares, it’s also a bad sign. It indicates that quantity is what matters for them rather than quality, and this can compromise the quality of anyone’s finished tax return.

Tax professionals will sometimes offer discounts to the people who are organized and thorough and who keep excellent records. Tax professionals should also receive the information that they need as early as possible. Working with a Chartered Professional Accountant can make all the difference for a lot of people. A CPA has expertise that they don’t have, but the CPA still needs a sufficient amount of background information.

Why Accountants Are Totally Worth The Financial Burden

1.An accountant is cheaper than a therapist

Life is not simple which of course means that finances are not simple. When it comes to taxes, there are so many things to remember. You have properties to think about as well as dependents and if you have more than one income that has to be accounted for too. Having your own business can be complicated because there is a 1099 form for each of them. And what about education? So many adults continue education and have loans and grants, all of which have their own forms.

Regardless of how organised you are, there are so many forms and instructions and rules when it comes to taxes, that anyone can feel like they are losing control. When you add up the time it takes to organise and prepare all the documents as well as even attempt to understand what you are doing, it is more beneficial to have an accountant do it. Their fees are reasonable, and as a long-term client, they tend to discount their services. The alternative is to prepare them yourselves, which can cause great distress, and it is not guaranteed that a therapist bill will be cheaper when they are called to help your situation.

The IRS are a pain to deal with. Don’t try to negotiate with them yourself.

2. Accountants can save time and money

Given that I only have to think about taxes once a year, accountants live and breathe taxes so are better at them. Accountants have the training and expertise to process the taxes of any person with much greater speed and precision than the taxpayer. Staying up to date on tax codes and all the possible deductions and forms is the very reason they are to be trusted over trusting yourself.

My own father-in-law who is a rocket scientist even outsources his tax preparation to professionals because it frees up his time and money to do things he enjoys. So because accountants stay on top of their game, tax preparation is not rocket science. It is much more simple than that, so long as you hire a professional.

3. They know about legal loopholes

The loophole I get to enjoy each year is a cheap trip to London. As a guest lecturer at a university there my accountant helps me to schedule the trip so that it can be written off as a legitimate business expense. The university pays me a small amount per class I teach, but it only covers the travel expenses. Although it would be better for the university to pay for the travel and the reimbursement comes later in the year through my tax return, it is still a positive knowing that I get a cheap trip to London with my accountant’s help.

4. They know what is not deductible

With the recent surge in people working from home, the IRS has started to crack down on those that mix their business and personal spaces. Screenwriters who get to type from the comfort of their living room and software designers developing apps in their garages now have to be careful since the IRS is aware of this once popular loophole.

It seems that claiming a home office deduction raises red flags for potential audits, and if this occurs, the IRS will expect proof that your home office has supporting evidence of business. If personal effects such as movie downloads or your child’s English paper are in your office or on your office computer, then they will label the office and equipment as multi-use which means they cannot be written off as business expenses.

Accountants will usually advise that since the threshold is $1500 for home office deductions, then it makes more sense to write off all the items in the home office as business expenses instead of deducting for floor space alone. Computers, printers, staplers and tape dispensers are all included.

The problem with home office deductions occurs when trying to sell your home. Even the most equipped home office is considered a business by the IRS, so when it comes time to sell the home, you may be subject to Section 1250 costs. Your capital gains will be negatively impacted by the depreciation of the home office. For an explanation of the 1250 costs, ask your accountant, because the lay person usually doesn’t even know these exist.

5. They know what is deductible

So long as items in the house are correctly labelled, and there is supporting evidence that they are business tools, the IRS will consider it as a work-related tax deduction. The downloaded games on the computer are work related if you happen to be a software designer or game engineer. That also means that the game console and controller are also work-related, which means, they are deductible.

There will be deductions you are not even aware of, but your accountant can go through everything and can identify deductions. The benefit of them doing your tax preparation is that they know the way to identify and label the tax-deductible items, whereas you think you are just looking at a room full of household items.

6. A good Accountant is like a truffle pig, but for money

An accountant is trained to find you money, not only in the form of deductions but other hidden opportunities. One such example is the selling of your home. We had asked our accountant to look through the finances of selling our previous house, and she was able to find $8000 in deductions and another missed opportunity. It was discovered that we might have been owed payment from a petroleum company because of mineral rights from the property.

Los Angeles sits on top of the country’s third largest oil field, which is something most locals are not even aware of. This means that oil companies and natural gas companies are drilling and working on the land which happens to be below many residential areas. Houses in these areas may have mineral rights that they are not aware of, $3000 as an example.

So when you look at the numbers, paying $550 for tax preparation is not bad when you get an $11000 gift in return.

7. They help you plan for your future

With most people looking towards their retirement, saving for this is a very important part of financial planning. If you plan to retire at a certain age and have a savings plan in place, such as I did, accountants can offer suggestions such as health savings accounts. These offer triple tax advantages to help in reaching your final goal along with retirement funds and IRAs.

8. They can pull you out of the fire

Every tax paying citizen dreads an audit, and the longer you do your taxes, the more likely you think your chances of an audit are going to increase. Knowing you have a good accountant is a safety blanket for the anxiety-causing audits. They will work directly with the IRS for you and give you peace of mind since you know they are professionals at this and know how to handle the IRS.
Even when you are a little behind in your taxes, even more than a little, an accountant can work through all the papers and get you back on track. Even though there will be fees to pay, you will be back on the IRS’s good list which is more than worth it. Having an accountant as your ally during tax time saves money, time and removes stress.

Everyone hates getting the form about an audit.

9. Never miss a deadline

No matter how bad you are at time keeping and organisation, your accountant will keep things moving to a schedule for you. Even when you do not hold up your end of the deal and paperwork is going to be late, they will get an extension for you, so you will not have to worry about any late fee penalties.

10. Stop giving the government an interest-free loan

Most people think the best part of taxes is getting a huge refund each year. However having an accountant around will help you redesign your finances so that you no longer overpay all year, and instead keep the money in your account earning interest. By looking through the numbers, they can find a happy medium between paying and getting a refund so that you can keep your money.

11. They are trusted, advisers

Although your accountant ends up being someone you trust, they are not part of your circle. This being said, they can look objectively at your details, housing and financial plans and offer suggestions that benefit you based only on numbers. They will give you advice on moves such as refinancing and aggressively saving for retirement strictly based on the numbers and no emotions or personal preferences.

12. They can teach best practices

Accountants will be honest with you whether they are delivering good or bad news, so you can always be sure that at the very least you are getting real advice and direction. Knowledge is one the best assets they can provide. They will steer you in the right direction for the next year and help with bookkeeping and organisation of your finances. Since most people truly value their money, accountants are good to have around as they provide the best guidance in handling financial situations and moving forward. To avoid any pitfalls from the previous year, listen to your accountant’s advice for the year to come.

13. They prevent you from accidental criminal behaviour

There are many sources of income that people tend to forget about; the eBay and Craigslist sales you made that year or the money that sits in your PayPal account. These all count towards income and if forgotten can be deemed a crime. The IRS will consider them as miniature businesses, and your accountant can point these out to you when you completely overlooked them.

14. Not everyone, every year, needs an accountant

When life is at its simplest such as having one job, and little to no assets completing a 1040 EZ is most likely the better option for you. It is cheaper to file this way, and there are not likely to be hidden deductions and a need for a fine tooth tax comb. The more assets you acquire and the more income that comes in, then it is better to get the professional assistance and guidance. Plus, some people actually like going through their books and reconciling their numbers. To each his own in reality, however, the benefits of an accountant are worth noting for those times when the complication just seems too much.

8 Money-Saving Property Insurance Tricks for Landlords

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Any time you decide to start renting out property there will always be a chance for controversy of some sort to emerge. You will find the need to screen your tenants to ensure that they will be able to pay, are gainfully employed and reliable, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. There are many concerns that arise when it comes to tenants, but if you are careful in your selection and lay down a number ground rules that can serve to protect your interests you should be okay.

Let us teach you some of our property insurance tricks.

Tips For Trading Commodity Futures

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This is a lucrative path to go down, but only for those who are willing to learn along the way and are not going to assume they know everything. There are many investors who lose a lot of money because they assume things are going to work out in their favor. Let’s take a look at some of the most important tips when it comes to trading commodity futures to ensure everyone is heading down the right path. It does not have to be difficult as long as one is patient and willing to learn.

Diversification Matters

It all begins with diversity in your portfolio. If you start to put all of your funds towards one specific commodity, you are asking for trouble and it does not matter who you are.

It is key to at least diversify the portfolio a bit. The general rule is your portfolio should never have more than 30% of one commodity in it.

It should be divided up entirely so that you are never in a complete loss simply because one commodity took a major hit. This can happen to those who are not careful about their portfolio.

Always Assess Trends

Research is the name of the game for those who are going to be in this line of investing. You are going to trading on the margins and those who are not careful about the demand for certain assets will lose out.

You need to predict what is going to take place rather than sticking in the present. Far too many people do this and then lose out as the commodity plummets.

Pay attention to the demand that is out there and then invest. This will lead to far better results and consistency as well on your end.

Choose Wisely When Considering Systems

Thinking about going with a particular system and wondering whether it is a good fit or not? There are some systems that are going to yield fantastic results and are going to do a lot for your success. However, the goal is to not just be wooed into making a purchase that is not going to do enough. A lot of people take this sort of risk and then never end up being content.

Look at how the system works and what it has done for others before signing up.

Have Enough Liquid Assets In Place To Thwart Losses

Losses are a part of the process and those who refuse to believe this are going to fall down rather quickly. It does not make sense to throw all of your funds at this type of trading because cash is necessary and those who don’t have it are the first ones to quit.

You have to be willing to set yourself up for success by having liquid assets in place to thwart losses and play them off because those who stick to it will earn more.

Those who are willing to learn and are going to make use of the tips listed here are going to see rewards at the end of their journey. It is essential to be willing to learn as commodity futures are going to yield results as long as you are focused on the task at hand and are willing to put in the time to do your research. As long as you are willing to do this, the rest is going to fall into place and the money is going to roll in on the investment. This is key for those who are wondering what has to be done to see success with commodity futures.

What Makes Up The Qualities Of A Great Accountant in Surrey?

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The top 10 qualities of a great accountant are more about the attitude than the skills they acquired all throughout their career. Though these qualities can be enhanced if you are striving to excel in your craft. For you to be one of the best accountants around, you need more than just organization, analytical and mathematical skills. You must possess these essential qualities that will elevate your work from others. The following are the top 10 qualities of a great accountant.

  1. Ambition: You have to be ambitious to achieve your goals in this field. By having the right mindset in life, you will be able to accomplish things while still being enthusiastic in doing your job. Without a doubt, a positive mindset will lead to positive results. Aim high and head towards that finish line.
  2. Communication skills: You must be able to communicate clearly with clients and with your colleagues as best as you can. Together with good listening skills, you will see yourself effectively communicating with different people. Training is everything; you can attend English classes to enhance further your communication skills.
  3. Competitiveness: Having a competitive spirit will help you achieve your goals and improve your service to clients. This will also help you in gaining credibility.
  4. Initiative: You have to push yourself and become stronger to fully perform to the best of your abilities. Having that “can do” attitude will lead to more accomplishments in life.
  5. Intellect: Being knowledgeable about different topics like economics, business, politics, technology, global issues and especially accounting is a must. Knowledge will help you get ahead.
  6. Integrity: You must always conduct business and build a positive reputation with all your clients and colleagues. Have a sense of professional integrity all the time.
  7. Leadership skills: You have to be a good follower to be a good leader. Lead teams and continue to inspire your people including your clients to be successful in this career.
  8. Likability: Successful people are able to build networks, gather contacts and work well with orders. Be likable as possible as you can be.
  9. Not afraid to take risks: Leaders in business professions and especially in accounting have entrepreneurial spirits and knows when to play safe and take risks.
  10. Reliability: An excellent accountant must be reliable and always ready to get the job done.

If you do not have these qualities, you must exert an effort to cultivate them if you want to be successful. With the help of state of the art, advanced accounting tools to generate design templates and reports. You will be a great one in no time and have the qualities of excellent accountants in Surrey BC.

As one of the future top-notch analysts, you will be rewarded with good compensation and benefits. You also can make a vital difference to someone’s investment whether it is a new business venture, purchasing of new properties or simply just to keep someone’s business steady. You will be recognized as one of the best professional support for investors, business owners and the like.

What Is Life Insurance All About?

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Insurance has become more appreciable in the world of today. In spite of this, a lot of folks still find the topic a bit perplexing. This could be due to the complexity of the terms used to describe insurance policies. It is, therefore, important that we make a rather simple approach to the topic and discuss insurance in a manner that is understandable to all.

This article is designed to demystify life insurance so as to inform the reader, in the simplest of ways, about the policy, its various types as well as the importance of life insurance policies. So, just what is this thing we keep referring to as life insurance? Well, this is a contract that is entered between individuals and insurance companies.

The contract requires that the insurance company pays the beneficiaries of the insured party a certain lump-sum of money provided that the insured pays monthly premiums. The payments to the beneficiaries are done after the insured person has died. The money received by beneficiaries is normally tax-free.

As you probably know, there are various types of life insurance policies. This is mainly for the reasons of providing individuals with diversity as each of the types will have its own terms and conditions unique from those of others. It is therefore upon the individual to pick a type of life insurance policy that they are satisfied with.

Term Life Insurance

As the name suggests, this is an insurance policy that covers individuals for a specific duration of time which can be up to 20 years. The insured individual pays regular premiums for the duration of the contract. In the case that they lose their job or are incapacitated, then the insurance company pays a lump-sum amount of money to the insured to provide financial security for them and their families.

“Term insurance policies are less costly compared to permanent life insurance policies. With term insurance, you can be able to support your family financially, whether or not you are working.” Michael Bernstein, a Las Vegas financial advisor, of Richard London Financial told us.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance is a typical permanent insurance plan that provides lifetime coverage to individuals. The premiums are higher than those required for term life insurance, but there is a certain level of flexibility in the premium rates and individuals can raise or lower the rates as they please.

Universal life insurance is ideal for the accumulation of wealth as it is basically a savings plan. In addition to this, it can also be used to provide financial protection long after the retirement of the insured party or upon death, in which case a lump-sum of money is paid to the beneficiaries.

Whole Life Insurance

This is yet another permanent life insurance policy that provides individuals with lifetime coverage. Whole life insurance is characterized by high premiums which are also fixed. Individuals willing to undertake whole life insurance policies will, therefore, have to cough up a little more in terms of premiums than individuals using term life insurance plans.

Whole life insurance can be used in estate planning as a wealth preservation plan. Individuals can also be guaranteed of lifetime coverage in addition to using the policy to accumulate savings.

The three are the common types of life insurance plans that individuals can choose from. One thing that this article needs to address is the basis for the calculation of premiums. The insurance company puts people in risk-related categories to determine their premiums. Healthier individuals often benefit from reduced premiums while individuals who are considered unhealthy will pay more as premiums.

The health of an individual is determined by factors such as overall health, family medical history, and lifestyle. All successful candidates for life insurance will fall in either of the categories; standard, preferred, and super-preferred. The premium rates paid will be increased as you move from super-preferred to standard.

Thank you to Richard London Financial, experts in Las Vegas life insurance, for their invaluable input with this blog post.