Tax Deadline Countdown: Using H&R Block Versus an Independent CPA

As the tax deadline approaches, some people are scrambling to file their tax returns on time. We already filed our taxes using tax preparation software; it was quick and easy — we received our tax refund already and we used a portion of it to pay down student loans.

For those deciding on how they want to complete their tax returns, I wanted to review two popular options: Tax preparation software, like H&R Block, and using a certified public accountant. Each have their own strengths that may tip your scale come this tax season.

H&R Block- Tax Preparation Software

One big advantage of tax preparation software like H& R Block is the ease of use while filing taxes. Taxpayers are usually given an interview-style guide that allows them to review their finances and tax situation fairly quickly and easily. If you have a fairly straightforward tax return, then tax preparation software may be able to get the job done at a much lower cost to you. If your taxes have also remained fairly consistent, you may also prefer to use the software option.

H&R Block has options for different tax filers — online software, in an office with a tax professional or online with a tax professional — the flexibility of which appeals to some tax payers.

Another advantage of tax software is the scheduling. Basically, you can file your taxes when you’re ready. No need to set up an appointment. You an do it as the paperwork comes it or you can sit down at one time and get it done. With some accountants booked right now and working overtime, you may want to go with software this year.

Using an Independent CPA to File Taxes

If you had a significant change in your finances over the past year, a CPA can be an invaluable resource. A solid CPA can also make sense of the tangled web of tax code, specifically at the state level. Certified Public Accountants can also save you time — you give them your financial information and they take care of the paperwork for you. For some filers, having a person that they can reach easily with their questions gives them peace of mind and justifies the costs of hiring a CPA.

Accountants can also go beyond the current tax season and help to prepare for next year’s taxes by offering financial advice on your specific situation. Perhaps someone can increase their charitable donation claims, or they finally open a 529 for their child’s college education. These helpful suggestions can have a big impact your family’s finances, including taxes, for years to come.

As you may have guessed by now, depending on your situation, you may choose to go with tax preparation software or you may find using an accountant a better option. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of both.

I’d love to hear from you about your taxes. For those who already filed, which method did you choose? For those in the process what are you planning on doing this year with your taxes?