Filling out tax forms is a lot more complicated than it should be. Most organizations that are taking your money try to make things as easy as possible; however, the IRS is a little bit different than most organizations. Can you imagine Wal-Mart asking you to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork before taking your money?! If you find yourself in a bind with taxes, you really only have one solution: professional help.
Unfortunately there aren’t really any resources out there that can help you work through some of the most challenging tax problems. This is the case for several reasons: (1) tax laws change every year so anything you find could be outdated, (2) people are nervous about offering free advice on this subject because of the potential litigation issues, and (3)the tax code can be down-right boring and difficult to understand. With a changing environment and a chance to be sued or prosecuted by the IRS, CPA’s and tax attorneys are not willing to offer free information. For the simplest of issues you can find free help, but for a complicated tax problem you’ll likely need to work with a professional.
Depending on the issue you could work with a CPA, tax attorney, or both. If you decide to work with a CPA, and you have a serious problem, make sure that the CPA is registered in the state in which you have a problem. In addition, you’ll want to ensure that the CPA knows a thing or two about tax. It turns out that not all accountants are tax experts; they have other areas of expertise like auditing or managing.
A tax attorney is usually a safe bet, but chances are you will have to pay a bit more when lawyers get involved (plus who likes working with a lawyer?)
Now, let’s talk about some common tax problems that you may face.
One of the most common types of tax problem encountered deals with filing late. Turns out that filing late can result in a fine. You’ll want to work with an attorney, CPA, or some form of tax consultant to know what to do.
Probably the scariest type of tax problem that is encountered deals with being audited by the IRS. Note that just because you are being audited, doesn’t necessarily mean you have done something wrong. Think of an audit as more of just assuring what you have said is correct. If you have all of the supporting documentation you should be fine. Note that you might still want a CPA or attorney to walk you through the audit.
The IRS cannot audit every taxpayer so it looks at some common characteristics of people or businesses who do not deduct the proper amounts. Once it has those common characteristics, it run some form of equation/lottery and if your name pops out, then you are on the audit list. It has been said that people who are self-employed have a higher chance of being audited.
In summary, filling out tax forms can be complicated and even if you did your best to be honest and fill them out correctly, there may be a chance that you still have a tax problem. You’ll want to consider either using a Tax CPA or attorney if you have a problem. Attorneys cost more, but they may be able to do a better job depending on your circumstance. Finally, remember that being audited doesn’t mean you did something wrong, but even so you still may want a professional to guide you through the process.