Tax Returns: Self-Prepared or Professionally Completed?

With the numerous tax preparation software products currently available, is it truly beneficial to hire a CPA or professional tax preparer to complete your taxes when you could do them yourself?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. Instead, you should examine your personal situation and needs. If you are motivated, capable and have plenty of time, self preparation of your taxes may be the way to go. Taxpayers who file a simple 1040 with few credits or deductions usually find it relatively easy to interpret the forms.

Conversely, taxpayers with intricate returns may be overwhelmed by constantly changing tax laws and complicated deductions. Complex returns usually involve items such as rental real estate, many investments or numerous Schedule K-1s. The calculations surrounding earned income credits and the new investment tax (Form 8960) have also served to make self-preparation more difficult.

As a general rule, if you are not … Read More

A CFO’s Contribution to Your Business

A recent article detailed the four most common things CFO’s address when they start at a new company. While many people believe that every owner and company are different, financial officers state that the needs are generally the same, regardless of size or industry.

To begin, a CFO always examines the financial statements for the business. Carefully studying these reports can help to identify material errors or inconsistencies. It can also show if any useful or needed financial statements are missing. Once the officer has gathered all the useful data, the company hires a third party to perform a trend analysis report. These ratios and statistics can be compared against industry standards as well as the closest competition. This comparison gives the company a solid way to measure its performance.

Second, the CFO will analyze the company’s accounts receivable. Using software, the financial officer can easily group accounts by customer, amount, … Read More

Student Loan Strategy

With the fall semester quickly approaching, more and more families are worrying about the financial crunch of college. Plenty of student aid is available, but it is often difficult to decide which type of loans to choose.

If your student is uncertain of what their employment or financial situation will be like at the end of college, it is usually wise to accept federal student loans. These loans are more flexible, allow you to modify your payments and have built in reductions for social workers and teachers. They can also refinanced by some private lenders.

The cheapest federal loans are the Stafford Subsidized Loan and the Perkins Loan. Both options do not accrue interest until after the student has graduated, provided the student stays enrolled full time. (They also cover 6-9 months of half-time enrollment). These loans are available to students who qualify for them based on the results of the … Read More