Many people begin by preparing their taxes themselves, and ultimately seek help when things become more complicated.
The question is, who are you counting on to do the job for you? There's a difference between an "accountant" (someone who prepares your taxes) and a "Certified Public Accountant" or "CPA" (someone who has received the training required by your state's licensing board).
Apart from the fact that CPAs are required to supplement their tax knowledge with yearly refresher courses in order to maintain their licenses, the CPA credential also provides clients with a means of recourse in the event something is done wrong.
On the other hand, an "accountant" without a license has no yearly education requirements, and is not at risk of losing his or her license in the event of misconduct or malpractice. Imagine if your doctor or lawyer had that luxury!
And often you'll find that the difference in fees is no different!
When choosing a tax professional, don't simply rely on the recommendations of friends who know as much or less than you do about the tax code. Take a few minutes to ask whether the tax professional recommended is certified and call up your local state licensing board to inquire about his or her professional record. These agencies were established to protect consumers like you - make use of them!
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