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The tax preparation business is an ever-growing industry and, at least for the first few months every year, can seem to never have enough knowledgeable professional tax preparers for the influx of clients seeking tax preparation help. Considering the tax preparation industry as a whole saw a revenue of nearly $8 billion in 2014 alone, and is forecasted to continue growing year after year, this is an industry to get on board with quickly! However, before you dive straight into planning your own tax preparation business, let’s talk software.

 

Tax Return Software

Thanks to the modern technology age, it’s easier than ever to go through all the steps of tax return filing digitally and at your own pace. With most tax return software, you simply log in with your unique user ID and the system will prompt you to pick up where you left off. For so many people who get frustrated and overwhelmed when trying to input all the information accurately, tick all the right boxes, and find all the appropriate exemptions or deductions, being able to stop and start as much as they want is a welcome feature.

 

In addition, most tax return software helps walk you through every step of the tax return filing process, whether you are a professional tax preparer or filing taxes for the first time. The best tax return software options will not only securely save all of your information, it will guide you through the process of entering your income information, ask you about life circumstances that could lead to potential deductions, and generally make the process as seamless and simple as possible.

 

Choosing Wisely

Of course, that’s not to say that tax return software is without its faults. First, and most importantly, any tax return software is only as good as the information it is given. This means knowing which information goes into which box, diligently checking for typos on every page, and understanding what the software is asking you to do. It’s this last part that most often gives people trouble. If you aren’t well-versed with tax filing terminology or don’t stop to read each prompt carefully, you could miss out on deductions you’re qualified for and end up paying more than you need to when you submit your return.

 

Tax Return Software for Professionals

If you’re a professional tax preparer, you probably read that last list and scoffed a bit. After all, you’re trained and know your way around a tax return. If you’re on the hunt for the best tax return software to aid your tax preparation business, you will obviously have different concerns than the average consumer. However, that doesn’t mean you ought to simply pick the first tax return software you come across. How easy or complicated specific software is to use can make a big financial difference for your business. If you have a question or IT support, do you have a designated contact you can call? An IT issue with your software can set you back hours, potentially cost you clients, and impact your bottom line—and it may not even be your fault! During tax season especially, time is money, so you need to be sure your software will pull its own weight and, if something does go wrong, that you know you can get help when you need it.

 

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This is where Umbrella Financial Services comes in. We offer the best tax return software for professional tax preparers hoping to start their own business. With our software comes everything you might need to get your tax preparation business off the ground quickly. Get IT and back office support when you need it, in both English and Spanish. Need training before you get started? Umbrella Financial Services offers both ownership training, to help your business be a success, and I.R.S tax law certification so you have the knowledge needed to navigate our software easily. File tax returns securely and digitally with our website and phone app, and even use our digital software to keep in touch with your clients!

 

Learn about these and all the other benefits to becoming an Umbrella Financial Services affiliate partner. Contact our knowledgeable team to get more information or get started with your own tax preparation business today!

 

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By 2018, taxpayers across the U.S. will pay a forecasted $11,000,000,000 (yes, that’s billion) to file federal income taxes. This number includes both the services at tax preparation businesses and online tax preparation software, but that’s quite a hefty sum of revenue to be generated almost entirely during the first quarter of the year. As we discussed in a previous post, the number is that large because nearly every adult in the country, citizen or not, working or retired, is required to file a tax return. In fact, it’s easier to list out the circumstances in which you are not required to file than it is to specify every instance in which you are. As a certified tax preparer, are you making the most of your highly-valued skills to tap into this vast and constantly growing market?

 

Why You Should Set Up Shop

If you’ve ever worked as a certified tax preparer between February and April, you’ve likely seen first hand just how high the demand is for local tax preparers, no matter how large or small an area you live in. As someone with skills that are in high demand, it’s only natural that you’ve been thinking about branching out and starting your own tax preparation business. You’re not alone there! Across the United States, the vast majority of tax preparation services are small businesses. More than half of the tax preparation businesses across the U.S. are operated by 10 or fewer people and nearly 40 percent are a business of one.

Starting your own tax preparation business means you can:

  • Set your own hours and rate of pay—at the height of tax season, when the demand for local tax preparers is soaring, you could earn $100 an hour or more.
  • Earn enough in three to four months to live on for the year—of course, living on what you’ll make during tax season for the other eight months will take careful planning and a solid budget, but it can be done!
  • Get started quickly—with a tax preparation business affiliate program like the one we offer at Umbrella Financial Services, you can get your business up and running without franchise fees so you can get earning sooner.

 

Potential Pitfalls and Future Planning

Of course, the logical side of you may come back argue that tax season is only a couple of months long. Even if the revenue flows in like a waterfall for a couple of months, that may not be the best basis for a long-term business investment. Depending on your tax preparation know-how, it doesn’t have to be a part-time business, but you will definitely notice a slow in business once tax day and later extension dates have passed. Many local tax preparers take this time to focus on assisting local small businesses with their annual taxes, setting up payroll systems, and so on. However, plenty of certified tax preparers accept the highly seasonal nature of tax preparation. As you’ve undoubtedly seen helping others set up business plans for their own small businesses, proper planning can go a long way toward a successful business.

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Starting a Tax Preparation Business

Whether you seek to start your own tax preparation business on a full-time or part-time basis, Umbrella Financial Services is here to help! We offer the best tax preparation software and support to help you start your business, in whatever shape that takes. We don’t charge franchise fees so you can get up and running faster, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be there to support you when you need it! At Umbrella Financial Services, we offer you round-the-clock support and IT help in both English and Spanish. If you aren’t certified yet, we can provide ownership training and I.R.S. tax law certification so you can be the knowledgeable source your tax preparation business needs in order to be successful. Our tax preparation software is offered both online and in a secure smartphone app for your convenience and that of your clients.

Whether you’ve been thinking about starting up a tax preparation business on a full-time or part-time basis, Umbrella Financial Services is here to help you start down the road to success. Contact us today to learn more about our affiliate program and the benefits we offer local tax preparers!

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For so many Americans, tax time means a full weekend dedicated to hours of frustration, too many cups of coffee (or wine), and more than one angry exclamation at the tax preparation software when it spits out information that doesn’t look accurate. If this sounds like a familiar experience, you may be in need of an accountant. “But I don’t earn enough to warrant an accountant!” you may think. When it comes to income tax return filing, hiring an accountant is not about how much you earn, but about your accountancy skills and your tax knowledge.

 

But, Do I Really Need an Accountant?

There is no hard and fast rule about whether you do or do not need to hire an accountant to help you file your tax return. If you’re a whiz with numbers and you’re familiar with all the information on the I.R.S. website, a tax prep app or online software may be sufficient for you to file your taxes with minimal hassle. On the other hand, if you run your own business, have two kids in college, earn six figures a year, and rent out a few of the properties as vacation rentals, your tax situation is probably plenty complex and trying to file a tax return on your own may just take days, not hours.

 

So, what is the line between filing on your own, with or without the guidance of a tax prep app, and hiring a tax specialist to help you through your tax return? Let’s put it into straightforward financial terms. Say, for example, you spend 5 hours on a Saturday filling out your tax return with online software. At work, you earn $10 an hour, so for the sake of argument (and a lot of generalization), your free time can be calculated along the same value lines. 5 hours of time doing tax preparation and filing work means you’ve essentially cost yourself $50. Which may or may not sound awful on its own, but when you add in the cost to e-file federal taxes through most online software, is it still worth it? Of course, this doesn’t even factor in how little you enjoy sitting down and struggling through the filing process. Between the cost for your time and the actual cost for tax filing software, is it still worth it to avoid going to an accountant?

 

Complexity

Hiring an accountant isn’t necessarily just a function of how much you earn in a year; it’s more about how complex your tax situation is. Someone fresh out of college, who doesn’t own a home yet, isn’t married, and doesn’t have kids may be able to get by filing taxes through an online tax software program, even if they don’t have much (or any) tax knowledge. However, if you bring in income from rental properties, own a business, are married with dependents, or generally have a move complex source of income and tax payments, an accountant can make a big difference in how quickly your taxes get filed and how much or little you have to pay. The difference here is that a tax prep app is only as good as the information it is given. It may try to prompt you through certain life events or areas for potential tax breaks, but tax software isn’t going to be as helpful as a tax specialist—unless that tax prep app is being operated by the tax specialist. Some situations in which you may want to hire an accountant to help with your taxes include:

  • Earning more than $200,000 a year
  • Having a foreign source of income
  • You own a business, have rental properties, or are self-employed
  • You’re planning to make a sizeable donation
  • You’re thinking of selling one (or multiple) properties

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Hiring a Tax Accountant

One of the biggest benefits of hiring a trained tax return preparer is that they actually know the ins and outs of federal and state tax law. Not only will you need to spend less time preparing to file your taxes, you can benefit from expert knowledge about exemptions and deductions you may not have known you qualify for. The more complicated your tax situation, the more those deductions add up to make a big impact on the bottom line when you file a tax return.

 

Whether you choose a tax prep app or take all your documents to a tax specialist, be sure you’re finding knowledgeable tax help near you! At Umbrella Financial Services, we help with all sides of the tax preparation business. If you’re a tax specialist, talk to us about how to start your own business. If you’re seeing tax help, try VTax, our tax prep app, to be connected with a tax specialist from the comfort and security of our specially designed smartphone app! Contact us today to get started!

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Anyone earning income needs to file a tax return

This is the easiest category of taxpayers to quantify. After all, it’s called an income tax return for a reason! With very few exceptions, anyone who holds down a job has some money withheld from each paycheck to pay into federal taxes, social security taxes, Medicare, and state income taxes (where applicable). This includes anyone who is a full-time employee, part-time employee, or a seasonal worker. If you are self-employed or a freelancer, you may or may not see any variety of tax withholding on your paycheck, but that depends on how your pay is set up. The long and short of it is, if you’re earning an income, the federal government is going to expect their cut and, generally, it’s easier to take a bit out of your paycheck before it even hits your bank account than it is to pay one large lump sum once a year. In addition to anyone in the workforce, there are a few more subsets of people required to pay taxes that you may not immediately assume; these include:

 

Those working in the United States who don’t have a Social Security number

That’s right, the lack of a social security number does not exempt you from paying federal income taxes. If you are working for an employer in the United States, the U.S. government expects you to pay taxes, whether you are a citizen, resident alien, or even some non-resident aliens. Generally speaking, if you earn money in the U.S., you will likely need to pay taxes on that income. If you do not have a Social Security number, you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in order to file your tax return. Be sure you don’t forget to keep your I.T.I.N. current, as well as those for your immediate family members, as that number will allow you to provide eligibility for Social Security benefits and qualify dependents for tax credits.

 

Retirees

You may be wondering, if you are beyond the age where you are part of the workforce and not earning an income any longer, why do you still need to file taxes? Just because you aren’t actively an employee doesn’t legally mean you’re no longer earning income. Some retirement savings plans, pensions, and annuities can still count as income, though it may not be the traditional income you’re thinking of. Even Social Security disbursements count as taxable income! The general guideline is, if you had money taken out of your pay before taxes could be applied to them, you’ll be responsible for paying taxes on those funds when you begin pulling savings out of your accounts.

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Tax Filing Exemptions

As you are probably coming to understand, the vast majority of adults (and working teens) are responsible for filing a tax return. The few exceptions to this rule are those who earn less than the standard deduction plus one exemption or you are the dependent of another taxpayer—in which case your tax information will be filed under your parent’s or guardian’s tax return. If you’re unsure whether you are exempt from filing, the IRS website has a handy interactive tool to determine if you should file or not.

 

Tax Filing Services

If you are a certified tax preparer, this is good news for you! Since nearly every adult in the country is required to file a federal tax return, tax filing services are always in demand and, if Benjamin Franklin’s assessment about death and taxes can be trusted, that demand isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, if at all. Start your own tax preparation business with the help of Umbrella Financial Services! We provide everything you could need, from the professional tax preparation software and support to IRS enrollment and registration assistance, ownership training, and even IRS tax law certification. Contact the Umbrella Financial Services team to learn more and get started today!

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