Believe it or not, today is the last day of 2020, which means it’s time to start the search for a trustworthy online CPA firm. We already have our sights set on Tax Day 2021! One of the biggest mistakes we see our clients make is waiting until the last minute to start their taxes. We’re not suggesting that you put the champagne down — by all means, enjoy the holidays! But we are saying that thinking about your taxes early is a strategic step in saving money, plus it reduces your stress.
Using a CPA online is extremely common, but it does come with some risk. When you use an online CPA, it’s harder to know if they’re the best. Of course, we’d love to help you through Tax Day 2021, but what’s more important to us is that everyone finds a CPA they can trust. We’re going to help you find the best online CPA for tax season.
What’s an Online CPA
First, let’s define an online CPA. When you hear the term ‘CPA,’ you might get a vision straight from Hollywood: think dusty, smokey old accountant offices. Or if you’ve used an accountant before, maybe you just think about offices and endless paperwork. In today’s modern world, we look and operate a little differently.
Many people assume only programs like TurboTax and H&R Block are online CPAs, but any accountant can put their services online. That’s how we serve individuals and businesses from all over the country and expats abroad. We also serve first-time homebuyers who use programs like the MCC tax credit. This program can be complicated with paperwork like Form 8396 and PHFA 1098, but we can help anyone in any state navigate their taxes.
Step #1 — Check Prices
We get it — TurboTax and H&R Block offer low prices. It’s tempting, for sure. But the problem is that these advertised prices aren’t always the final cost of their services. What if you have a question or need extra help? Usually, you must pay more or upgrade to talk to a human. And when it comes to filing your taxes, you want to be 100% sure it’s correct.
As an online CPA, we want our prices to be affordable to the masses. That’s why we match the cost of TurboTax’s Deluxe version with state filing. But, we also throw in essential amenities like human voices, helpful phone calls, and constant support.
Step #2 — Find an Online CPA That’s Familiar with Your Situation
If you have a complicated situation, you need to use an online CPA who knows what they’re doing. If you have multiple businesses, then look for an accountant who specializes in business taxes. If you have property or income overseas, don’t settle for the typical online programs. You need an expert.
Here at our CPA firm, we specialize in numerous types of situations. But, what we’re most known for is the MCC tax credit program. So if you’re a first-time homebuyer and you need help understanding complicated paperwork like the PHFA 1098 (the mortgage interest statement you’ll receive in Pennsylvania), then you know we can help.
Of course, we’re not the only ones who can assist first-time homeowners, so the point is to seek out experts and receive the best help. And if you're out of Pennsylvania, remember that we serve anyone across the country, as do many other online CPAs.
If you use an accountant who doesn’t understand your situation, you could miss out on saving money or receiving a larger tax return. Let’s look at the MCC tax credit as an example. With this program, you can save up to $2,000 per year, but it’s complicated. So if you’re using a CPA online who doesn’t understand how to receive the most tax credit possible, that’s lost money.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, then an expert accountant should be able to tell you that the MCC tax credit requires certification before you buy a house. And, they should tell you that you need to use paperwork from your state’s specific agency. In Texas, you’ll use TDHCA MCC (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs). In Pennsylvania, you’ll use the PHFA (Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency). And when you receive the PHFA (or the one from the TDHCA MCC program if you’re in Texas), then you need to use the information on that form to submit Form 8396 with your annual taxes.
If that all sounds confusing, it’s only because sometimes you need experts to navigate these programs and save you the most money possible.
Step #3 — Feel Comfortable with Your Online CPA
Above all else, you need to feel comfortable with your accountant. Unfortunately, people use programs like TurboTax because they think CPAs are more expensive and not as trustworthy. We’re trying to break that stereotype, and we’re not the only ones out there. So use your gut. If you get a bad feeling about using a specific CPA online, then take your business elsewhere.
Here are some other tips on how to find honest and trustworthy CPAs:
If You Need More Help, Let Us Know!
Again, we’d love to help you with any of your needs this upcoming tax season. Not to scare you, but Tax Day 2021 is just (gulp) 105 days away! If you start thinking about your taxes within the next few weeks, you’ll be in good shape. We pride ourselves on being an honest and trustworthy online CPA; but, again, we just want you to get the help you need. If we’re not the right fit, we’re happy to recommend someone local to you or an accountant who better specializes in your particular situation.
Contact us — we’re here to help!