When we’re sick, we consult doctors. When we have plumbing problems, we hire plumbers. When someone needs to have a piece of software built, they hire a software developer. But for some reason, when it’s time to file our taxes, a lot of us try to do it ourselves.
Seriously people, just hire an accountant. A good accountant will find all sorts of ways to bring your tax obligations down and save you money that you wouldn’t have saved if you did your taxes on your own.
Every time I paid a few hundred dollars to an accountant to do my taxes for me, he/she always got me a few thousand dollars in refunds that TurboTax never got me. This year, because I was in the United States for the majority of 2016, I thought that I wouldn’t be qualified for the Foreign Earned Income Tax inclusion. Well, turns out that I “can” sort of do this by filing for an extension for my 2016 taxes so that I can file later in the year in December. I would have never known about this if I haven’t paid a few hundred dollars to my accountant. Thanks to my accountant, I’m now due a refund of a few thousand dollars at the end of the year rather than owing the US government a few thousand dollars in taxes.
Also, think about it this way. Let’s say you spend 10 hours (probably more if we’re being honest) agonizing over your taxes. How much is your time worth? Let’s say you’re a freelance software developer billing at $100 per hour. So if you spent a total of 10 hours doing your taxes, filing your taxes just cost you $1,000, never-mind the stress of not knowing whether you filed your taxes correctly or not. On the contrary, let’s say that a competent accountant who’s 100x better than you will ever be at filing taxes only cost $300. And working with an accountant will potentially save you thousands of dollars in taxes you owe to uncle Sam. Needless to say, it’s smarter and more cost effective to just pay the accountant.
So yes, just suck it up, pay a few hundred dollars, and hire a competent accountant. You’ll probably end up making money thanks to all of the refunds that you’ll be getting.
If you’re a nomadic individual like me, I used Greenback Expat Tax Services to file my 2016 taxes and so far they have been excellent.