Tag Archives: cpa

My CPA and I… 2011 Taxes, Almost Done

After years of fairly simple taxes finalized in less than an hour online, this year I went to a CPA hoping that he’d provide me more in value than an H&R Block, given his rates were $220 an hour. Selecting a CPA was a daunting process and admittedly one I ran out of time to do effectively — all I knew is in order to properly submit my 83(b) election form with this years taxes, I needed to paper file, which took Turbotax out of the running.

Going to a CPA, I learned, isn’t a lot different from doing your own taxes online. I sat there with him for a full two hours reviewing my paperwork (which admittedly wasn’t as organized as it could have been) — but what took the most amount of time was him trying to understand my gains and loss statement for my Sharebuilder account, which — I thought for a CPA — should have been easy. He also was confused by my tiny Lending Club and Prosper interest, not knowing where to put it.

I expected to owe taxes this year, and really had no idea if it would be $3,000 or $10k, so I was prepared for the worst. In the end, the relatively good news is, I seem to only owe $3500 or so, plus the $500-$600 to the CPA. I can also sleep at night knowing a CPA filled out my tax forms versus my guessing on a few confusing parts of TurboTax. It’s a little bit of a bummer that I am paying $600 or so to file taxes, versus $100 online, but this also ensures my forms will be mailed in that have to be sent with a paper return.

This week, I also re-discovered the inefficiencies of the IRS and just how behind the times they are when it comes to technology. It’s amazing they let anyone e-file taxes to begin with.

In any case, I’m almost done with this filing. I need to figure out if a stock gain was recorded properly on my taxes last year, or if I need to count it in this year’s taxes. I’m on a life mission to get much more organized around taxes and everything else. It’s only going to get more complicated from hereon out.

Taxes Due, Headed to a CPA

Every year so far I’ve managed my taxes via TurboTax. I’m not sure if my taxes were done right, but they were simple enough where I was pretty confident in my ability to answer questions on a software used by tens of thousands of people.

This year, however, I’ve decided last minute to have a CPA do my taxes. There are a few items I’m nervous about and want to make sure to get right. That said, I’m also extremely nervous about selecting a CPA — because they could easily be wrong too. Most CPAs that are good are booked solid until after the 15th right now, which leaves me a little concerned over the CPA I found that seemed to have a few (or maybe more) available appointments. However, in my neck of the woods where everyone is rich, I’ve found the minimums to do one’s taxes are $1500 or $850 (two real quotes I got), so the one person who quoted me $220 an hour with assistants costing $90 an hour, minimum 2 hours, seemed reasonable. Still a lot more expensive than TurboTax — which I’ll probably fill out anyway just to keep my records electronic (I wonder if I can save it without submitting) — and I doubt it will “save” me any money in the actual tax return, but at least I’ll feel like it’s done right.

I’m concerned about 5 particular items:

  • 83b filing. You have to file that along with your taxes the year you make the election, and there’s no way on TurboTax to attach documents. I could fill out the paper form myself, but that would be putting a lot of confidence in my math abilities that i don’t have. I am also starting to be paranoid about the IRS never receiving my original “within 30 days” election (even though I sent it within 30 days) and want to make sure I get this right, just in case anything should happen later which would result in my being majorly screwed. I sent it certified mail with a return receipt but given I never mail anything anymore, I apparently did that incorrectly and never got the receipt, so I’m extremely concerned.
  • Stock losses. I took a sizable amount of losses this year on a few big losses that were not going anywhere, so I could reinvest the funds left in them into more profitable companies such as Apple, as well as diversify internationally. I “lost” (not paper loss) more than $3000 this year (probably more like $6000), and I want to make sure this is filled out correctly and that any additional losses over the $3k are noted to be carried over to next year.
  • IRA conversion. Last year I opened a traditional IRA with post-tax money because I thought I would end up making too much to qualify for a Roth IRA. I think that may be true. Regardless, if you make more than something like $6k you cannot use pre-tax money for an IRA. Which is stupid because if you don’t have a 401k then you have no way to set aside pre-tax money (unless you’re a real sole proprietor, in which case you can set up a solo 401k.) In any case, I want to make sure the IRS understands that this was post-tax money, so when I later do a Roth Conversion (ideally on a year I stay home to be a mother and have very low income taxes) I’ll be able to only pay tax on the interest on the account with a $5k basis.
  • $20k of freelance income I forgot about — is there anything I can do to reduce the amount of taxes I have to pay on this? Probably not, but worth asking.
  • General investment taxes — my taxable account dividends, P2P lending accounts, etc. It would just be nice to hear someone who does this for a living discuss if I’m doing anything wrong here.

Otherwise, my tax returns are simple enough to do via TurboTax. Other than the carried over stock losses, I assume next year they will be even more simple as I’m back in a full time job (hopefully for the remainder of this year) and not earning freelance income because I’m so busy with this FT job.

Have you ever used a CPA for your taxes? Do you feel it was worth it? How much did you end up paying?