Do you have 11 hours to spare?

That is the number of hours the IRS estimates an average taxpayer spends on the 1040 form, including gathering records. Using a tax preparer can certainly make life less taxing, saving you both dollars and your valuable time.

But don’t wait until April 15 to find out that you need professional help to complete your tax return.  Start evaluating your documents now to decide whether or not you can complete them on your own.

If you have a tax return that is complex or just contains issues says that might require hours of learning and research time on your part, you may want to consider using a tax preparer. Michelle Larson and her team at Larson Accounting and Tax Service that some of the most common items that drive a person to her office are things like owning a home based business, claiming substantial itemized deductions, owning rental property, and major lifestyle changes including divorce or drastic changes in financial position. Usually it is that type of thing that causes the average person to decide that it might be worth it to ask someone who knows rather than spending the time to do the research on a particular issue in hopes of getting it figured out right.

So what do you look for in a tax accountant?

Of course knowledge and skill are especially important. Larson suggests that you can often learn more about a person’s commitment and the quality of their work by asking people that you already know. Ask family and friends for references. Be sure these people have actually used the tax preparer. Ask them about the level of knowledge, qualifications, quality of work, responsiveness to questions, timeliness of work completed, and above all do they take the time to help you understand exactly what has been done.

Larson says that it is especially important to find someone that you can really connect with. “Remember that you are choosing your professional for the long haul. You really want that person to meet your needs today and in the future.” It is often a life long relationship that begins with a tax return. “Many times we as tax accountants can be the primary financial consultant of our clients. I describe it as a personal CFO.” As that primary financial consultant, we not only handle tax and accounting questions, but we often field the initial questions on a myriad of topics like college funding, estate planning, computer systems, retirement planning, elder care, marriage/divorce, lease vs. buy, business valuations, mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, annuities, type of business entity, budgeting, bankruptcy and various legal questions. This broad job description has made it quite apparent that our role is both expanding and becoming more specialized at the same time. For this reason a good tax accountant will have a great network of advisors established to help field and respond to these kinds of questions. “We are very proud of the people that we are fortunate to know and associate with.”

We are sure that it will be worth the investment of your time. It is our goal for our clients to be the most knowledgeable clients in town.

The key word in our business name is service

It is our goal to put our clients service needs first. The recent changes that we are adopting are geared to meet those needs. We are excited about some of the things that we are doing in our office. We are implementing several new internal procedures to streamline things for our clients. Although our clients will never actually see this new service in action, we hope it will save them valuable time. This is also our first year to implement a “drop-off” service for those clients who are struggling to find the time for their tax appointment. “It just seems that today’s society is looking for more time and we are trying to help our clients find more of it.”