Turbo Tax, like many other tax-preparation software programs, acts as an electronic accountant on behalf of you, the tax filer. The software walks you through the process of entering your personal information, as well as your income and deductions, to find the balance of your tax refund or the amount of money you owe. Turbo Tax automatically completes each field of your tax return based upon your answers and can electronically submit your tax return, as well as provide you with a hard copy for your files. You may be attracted to filing your taxes through a program like Turbo Tax if you have concern for your privacy against outside tax preparers or wish to conserve money on tax preparation fees.
An accountant is a tax professional who works one-on-one with you to achieve the maximum refund available to you. Accountants have experience in their field and may be able to identify deductions that you are not claiming. Accountants can also observe your unique situation and present you with suggestions for lowering your taxes in the future. You may choose to use an accountant to prepare and file your taxes if you seek convenience and expertise, or if you do not feel confident in your ability to prepare your own taxes.
If your taxes are relatively simple, involving basic employee wages with few deductions, Turbo Tax is likely the optimal choice for filing your return. However, if you own your own business or have multiple complicated deductions, you may want to spend more money for the services of a tax accountant. Also, if cost is your biggest concern regarding the method for filing your taxes, you may be eligible to forgo both Turbo Tax and an accountant in favor of the "free-file" program available to certain low-income households through the IRS. This can save you between $50 and $200 or more on the cost of filing your return, according to MSN Money. However, if you do choose to pay fees for tax preparation, you can deduct them on your following year's taxes.
If you fail to prepare your taxes correctly, either with the help of an accountant or Turbo Tax, you may trigger a red flag for an audit. If the IRS elects to audit your taxes, most accountants can help you with the audit for an additional fee, alleviating much of the stress often associated with an IRS audit. On the other hand, Turbo Tax offers a service for $39.95 called, "Audit Defense." This service defends you against an IRS audit by providing you with a tax professional to represent you throughout the audit process. If the IRS finds discrepancies during the audit, you could be subject to fines, penalties and interest.