Small Business Taxes: Software or In-Person Guidance?

When it comes to owning a small business, everything from determining what color the door should be painted to choosing how to advertise your brand is a huge decision. One of the most important decisions that will be made is how taxes will be filed for your business. Should you file them yourself or should you leave it to a professional accountant?

It’s important to consider all your options in order to choose the one that will work best for you and your business. Here are four of the top things to consider before deciding.

How Important Is Speed?

Your small business’s taxes could be processed more quickly or slowly depending on which route you choose. You might think that filing with a tax professional would be quicker because they know what they’re doing, but often the process takes them several days to a few weeks.

Filing your small business’s taxes yourself can also save you the trip to the accountant’s office (including time spent waiting for an appointment). Plus, with the availability of free online accounting software like Sage, there’s no more struggling in a sea of papers while you crunch numbers. Not only does the software allow you to manage your cash flow, but also it makes sure you don’t miss any deductions that you should be claiming.

Do You Prefer a Human Touch?

While some people may prefer to do their own small business’s taxes from the comfort of their sofa, others may enjoy establishing a relationship with a professional accountant so they can get to know their small business’s ins and outs during tax season. If you want to hire a tax professional for your small business taxes, make sure you consider the different types of tax advisors that are available to you, including enrolled agents, certified public accountants, and tax attorneys.

Your choice will be based upon your small business’s unique needs; however, be sure that the person you hire to do your small business’s taxes has one of those titles – anyone who claims to be qualified but lacks one of those titles is not a viable option. These tax professionals are a great source for answers to your tax questions throughout the year as well as at filing time, but keep in mind that when hiring a professional accountant, there is the risk of human error.

How Much Does Money Matter?

Filing your small business’s taxes with a professional accountant might be more alluring for certain reasons, but saving money isn’t one of them. In fact, filing your taxes with a professional can cost you a pretty good chunk of change, whereas filing your small business’s taxes yourself, especially with online programs, can save you both time and money. In fact, “the least expensive tax preparers will cost at least $100 and a CPA is likely to charge at least twice that amount,” according to Investopedia.

Many small business taxes are fairly straightforward, so these extra expenses may not be necessary. However, keep in mind that you are paying for the “human touch” mentioned earlier –  a tax professional ready to get to know your unique small business’s needs. If you have the money to spend, hiring a tax professional is still worth considering.

Also, if you consult this individual each year, you can work this charge into your annual expenses. The savings that are found may make this investment all the more worth it.

Do You Have a Busy Schedule?

Whether you have time to make an appointment with a professional accountant is a large factor when considering how to do your business’s taxes. With a tax professional, you must take time out of your busy schedule and away from your business in order to trek your tax information to his or her office. However, if you choose to file them yourself, you can do them at any time of the day – including when your business and tax professional’s doors are closed.

Given today’s technology, you could even file your small business’s taxes from your iPad or cellphone, all without leaving your office. You can even get an approximation of what your tax refund will look like by downloading a free app.

Whether you choose to hire a professional accountant or do your small business’s taxes yourself, it’s important to consider what factors are most important to you. Whether it’s timeliness, your budget, your busy schedule, or a preference for technology, considering online accounting software could be your answer.

Ashley Carter is a writer who specializes in business topics and advice for entrepreneurs. When she’s not writing she enjoys hiking and any other outdoor activity imaginable.