9 Reasons It’s Totally Worth Hiring an Accountant To Do Your Taxes

SAVING & SPENDING - TAXES
Say goodbye to tax season headaches and hello to peace of mind.
Updated April 9, 2024
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Another year has come and gone, which means another tax season is already here. The IRS usually starts accepting tax returns as early as mid-January, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about how and when to file taxes.

If you used tax software last year, you might be thinking about using it again to avoid wasting money. But if you fit into one of the following categories, an accountant could save you time, money, hassle, or all three this tax season.

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You started a side gig

irissca/Adobe young woman speaking in front of camera for vlog

Did you pick up a side gig for the first time to make extra money this year? Filing your taxes just got more complicated, especially if your side hustle bumped your income into the next tax bracket. 

Depending on the gig, you might have been hired as a self-employed freelancer, in which case you have a lot more tax responsibilities than you did before

You’re self-employed

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe male photographer with digital camera in studio

The IRS considers you self-employed if you own your own business or are a 1099 contractor—this applies to Uber drivers, DoorDashers, and Instacart shoppers, among others. 

If your side gig hires you as a contractor or freelancer, you’re responsible for calculating and paying taxes yourself instead of having your employer withhold them from a regular paycheck.

Self-employment taxes can get tricky fast. For instance, if you’re employed by a company as a W-2 employee, you’re only responsible for paying half of the Social Security and Medicare tax (collectively, FICA taxes). 

Your employer pays the other half. But if you’re self-employed, you must pay the employer and employee halves of the FICA tax.

If you make over a certain amount of money as a self-employed individual, you must pay estimated quarterly taxes and file an annual tax return. 

Tax software can help you estimate and pay quarterly taxes, but an accountant can also help you make accurate tax calculations and keep your self-employment taxes in order year-round.

You depend on deductions

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe handicap businessman sitting with colleague in office

Depending on your marital status, age, disability status, and other factors, you can choose to itemize your tax deductions or take the standard deduction set by the IRS. 

Both types of deductions lower your taxable income and help you save money, but one likely saves you more than the other. 

It’s difficult to determine which type of deduction to take on your own, but an accountant can help you determine which choice will save you more money.

Deductions are particularly important for self-employed individuals, including anyone freelancing for Lyft or renting out property via Airbnb as a side hustle. For example, you can usually write off the employer portion of your FICA taxes to lower your taxable income. 

Without an accountant, it’s hard to know which deductions are worth claiming or how much to deduct. 

Bear in mind that if you itemize your tax deductions, you can’t estimate a number or round up. You need to be extremely precise — and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more accurate than an accountant.

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Try it

You want to reduce your chance of an audit

pkstock/Adobe federal tax form 1040 with keyboard and calculator

While you can’t eliminate your chance of being audited entirely, you can even the odds by filing your taxes as accurately as possible. 

For starters, you should report all of your income (remember that the IRS gets copies of your W-2 and 1099 forms) and be prepared to back up your deductions with the right financial paperwork. 

Failing to do so can have major consequences for your wallet if the IRS comes calling, as can making a minor data-entry mistake that an accountant could’ve avoided.

You want to save money

Pcess609/Adobe man calculate domestic bills at home

Tax software might seem like a cheaper bargain than hiring an accountant, but the hidden extra costs can add up quickly. The price you see advertised for different tax software usually refers to the cost of filing federal taxes only. Filing state taxes costs extra.

Additionally, the closer you get to the end of tax season, the more expensive tax software becomes. If you run the numbers, you might find that an hourly accountant can file taxes for you much cheaper than DIY tax software.

You recently experienced a major life event

Seventyfour/Adobe mother spending beautiful time with her baby

Your financial status likely changed significantly if you’ve experienced a major life event recently. 

Divorce, marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, career shifts, job loss, or a cross-country move can all drastically change the amount of money in your bank account, and they can also change your tax obligations. 

Trying to navigate taxes on your own after experiencing a major lifestyle change could require more time and energy than you can afford right now.

Your student loan debt was forgiven this year

Brian Jackson/Adobe Saving for education

Depending on your state of residence, your student loan debt forgiveness might not impact your taxes at all — or it could affect your taxes in a major way. In some states, the amount of money forgiven is counted as income. 

If you’re worried about owing money on your state taxes due to debt forgiveness, an accountant can help you navigate the complicated ins and outs of local tax laws much better than DIY software.

You inherited money

Monkey Business/Adobe senior couple in office discussing papers with young female advisor

For the most part, the federal government doesn't tax any money or property you inherit, but any money your inheritance accrues from that point on, such as interest on an investment, is taxable. 

An accountant can help you determine whether you need to report your inheritance's earnings or can leave the inheritance out of your tax paperwork entirely.

You invested in cryptocurrency

DedMityay/Adobe cryptocurrency golden bitcoin coin

Crypto was a fairly unregulated market in the United States until relatively recently, but now, you’re required to report any income earned (or lost) via virtual currency transactions on your taxes. Like taxes, understanding cryptocurrency is complicated enough on its own.

If you’re leery of combining the two, turning everything over to a tax expert who can make sense of your virtual income and file the correct tax paperwork can give you much-needed peace of mind.

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Bottom line

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When you’re in a confusing or complicated financial situation, even the best tax software can only take you so far. 

If you’re short on time, worried about making a mistake, or unsure about your tax filing status, an accountant could be a better choice for you this tax season.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.

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