What’s that again? These tax experts relieve you of the burden of preparing your annual tax return and look for ways to reduce your future tax liability.
When to hire: Can’t make heads or tails of what can be deducted on Schedule A? Keep making errors on the forms and fretting about a possible audit? Make an appointment. Small-business owners and those who have received an inheritance or exercised stock options generally ought to hire an accountant, too, since it’s hard to keep up with changes in the tax laws. But not everyone needs this service: With a basic return—for example, W-2 wages, interest and dividend income, plus deductions for charitable donations and mortgage interest—you will probably be fine using TurboTax or similar tax software, says Alex Gelber, an assistant professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Expect to pay: About $130 for the preparation of a nonitemized return; $230 or more for an itemized one.
How to find a good one: Ideally, use a certified public accountant (CPA): They have received the most rigorous education and testing and are licensed by the states that they work in. You can search for one at nsacct.org, the website of the National Society of Accountants. Or ask your family and friends for a recommendation (a good idea when hiring any financial pro).