Mamas, there are a few things that make us extra nervous: An expensive white shirt during a spaghetti dinner; An out-of-sight toddler who is suspiciously quiet; and doing the taxes.
We might not be able to do much about the stains and the sneaky toddlers, but thankfully we can (and do) make tax season a lot less stressful than it used to be. We do it with three little letters — CPA — Certified Public Accountant.
Regardless of whether or not you’re “good with numbers,” understanding the tax code is a whole different animal. We use a CPA for our tax return because we know how much of a difference it makes to have an expert help you in the areas of your life where it matters most. Our CPA firm, Mauldin & Vaught, CPAs in Fayetteville, just filed our business tax return and it feels SO GOOD to know that it’s done and — more importantly — it has been done correctly.
Here are our Top 3 reasons to use a CPA instead of suffering through tax season on your own:
1. Peace of mind matters. You probably wouldn’t attempt to redo the electrical wiring in your home’s breaker box, right? And you probably wouldn’t hire a guy who is “kinda good at plumbing” to set up the septic system at your new house. Because we don’t want to be electrocuted or have toilets flood the house, we hire professionals for those jobs — people who have been licensed and have years of experience.
The same holds true for taxes. The U.S. tax code is enormously complicated, and there are new changes and updates every year. Certified Public Accountants are licensed professionals who must maintain their licenses by completing ongoing education (in things like the latest tax deductions, etc.) CPAs are also held to certain industry standards and practices. You can request information about a CPA from the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy.
NOTE: It’s important to know that there is a BIG difference between a CPA and a “tax preparer or tax preparation service.” They’re not the same thing — at all. Tax preparers sometimes have very little training in the tax code and are often seasonal workers who might only work on taxes for a few months each year. (It’s like speaking Spanish for only a few weeks each year and then expecting to be fluent enough to serve as a translator for hundreds of people. Not likely to happen.)
2. They keep meticulous records. CPAs keep a detailed history of all the work they’ve done for clients, and they give you these wonderfully organized packets of all your tax info once the return is completed. But if you put those documents in a “safe place” and then completely forget where your “safe place” is, no worries. Your CPA will have it.
Because they pay so much attention to record-keeping, CPAs are also great at looking at the big picture of your financial life, not just this tax season alone.
3. They’ll get you the right return. Because a CPA is not only licensed but must also do ongoing training each year, he or she is in the best position to get you the right amount of money on your tax return. Please BEWARE of any tax preparation service that guarantees you the “biggest” return. (You don’t want a tax preparation service to get you a big return by using methods that are illegal or that could trigger an audit by the IRS.)
What you want is the “correct” return and the assurance that you’re not leaving any money on the table. That’s exactly what a good CPA is trained to do.
If your tax return is super simple (like a 1040EZ), you might not need a CPA’s help and could instead use a free tax filing service. But most families we know have returns that are a bit more complex and could really benefit from the expertise a CPA brings to the table.
If you’re looking for a CPA service with a stellar reputation, we can wholeheartedly recommend Mauldin & Vaught. Click HERE to read more about them on the website, or call them at 479-587-1040. Mauldin & Vaught is a nwaMotherlode website sponsor.