There are tons of online tax tools. Why go through the trouble of finding and hiring a tax planner?

Because a tax planner could save you millions over your lifetime, along with other benefits. Here’s what you need to know about tax pros.

What is a tax planner?

They are accounting professionals — certified public accountants (CPA) or tax attorneys — who work with clients over a long period. A tax planner’s primary goal is to ensure that the client is prepared for the next filing season and pays the minimum taxes legally possible.

Why should I hire one?

A tax planner can save you money, big time. They can counsel you on life decisions and help you make better financial choices. They know everything there is to know about the tax code, deductions and credits.

The cost of hiring a tax planner will be more than returned to you in the taxes you can save with their services. They also will save you time preparing your paperwork for tax returns. They can advise you on how to organize for tax season, and they can field specific questions from you and from the IRS if you happen to get audited.

A tax planner will do the long-term work that a tax preparer won’t do, and they will stay in touch with you year-round to maximize your tax benefits.

How will it help me specifically?

Having your finances and tax planning handled by a trusted outside party will reduce your overall stress. The tax code changes yearly, and most people can’t keep up with its ins and outs and how it affects their investments and tax planning.

Hire a good tax planner to look at your past returns and see where you can make improvements in future returns. They will draw up a specific path to meet your tax goals.

How do I find a trusted tax planner?

Ask friends and business associates for names. Interview a few before you decide whom to hire. You want to choose someone with an excellent educational background and experience working for an accounting firm. Hire a tax planner who asks you plenty of questions about your finances; they need to be invested in your specific profile in order to serve you best.

It’s a nice perk if you hire a tax planner who is interested in educating you as they formulate your long-term tax plan. We can all benefit from knowledge about the tax code as it pertains to our finances and yearly returns. Here’s a searchable database of accounting professionals.

How do I prepare for meeting potential tax planners?

Get organized. In addition to your past tax returns, bring your most recent invoices, important receipts, bank statements and charitable contribution documentation. A tax planner will have a much easier job if you present them with all your paperwork up front.

What if I don’t want to hire someone?

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of meeting someone face to face and going over your finances in detail, there are online tools you can use!

The bottom line

Do your research and hire a tax planner you trust and are happy to meet with multiple times every year. This is an important decision that can save you a huge amount of money over time.

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