Save Money Using a Tax Preparation Service

picture of older couple working with a tax professionalEveryone is looking to save money these days. During the tax season, a tax professional can be one of your best bets for saving money - as well as time - preparing your return.

After all, saving time on taxes can mean saving money on taxes.

Filing Taxes - The Options

If the prospect of preparing and filing taxes gives you pause, you are not alone: According to the IRS, nearly 60 percent of taxpayers use a preparer to file their return. Whether your taxes are complicated or (relatively) simple, there are a number of ways to save money filing taxes.

If you're not sure how to file taxes, those with an income of $58,000 or less - about 70 percent of taxpayers - can use a number of online tax programs to file their return for free through the IRS Free File program. Additionally, Regions offers its customers a discount on TurboTax products that help you e-file your tax returns by walking you through the process.

Hiring Help with Your Tax Preparation

If your finances are more complicated, tax preparation services offer further options, though for those with complicated returns, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) may be the best bet to help you minimize your tax burden. Even if you prepare your own taxes, you may be leaving money on the table by not consulting a professional for a second look, especially if you have investments, sold investments at a loss, had charitable contributions or have other complicating factors.

The fastest way to get your refund back where it belongs - in your pocket - is filing taxes electronically with direct deposit. It only takes 8-14 days to receive your refund, so be cautious if a preparation service offers onerous tax refund loans.

Save Money on Taxes

Start by comparing apples with apples: find out what is included in any tax preparation fee. Negotiate a fair price. It's not unreasonable to ask for a price quote. And it's certainly easier to negotiate prices before the work begins. Also, some preparers will offer a discount when filing more than one return. In general, you might save money on taxes by using small independent shops rather than a larger CPA firm.

Be organized. If your preparer charges by the hour, a shoebox full of mail, notes and receipts will guarantee they will have to spend more time sorting through your mess. If your accountant or service provides a tax planner or tax preparation booklet prior to your meeting, use it. Incomplete data means expensive delays for your preparer. Finally, be aware that the IRS and AARP both provide volunteer tax preparation for seniors - and the IRS also has free programs to assist those with low- to moderate-income.

Time is a Commodity - A Precious One

For many, the prospect of sorting through mounds of tax documents, receipts and complicated forms may just be too much. Even with Turbo Tax discounts and helpful resources like the Regions Tax Center, the time involved in preparing your taxes might be the deciding factor, regardless of how much money you can save.

When the final calculations are run, for some, saving time on taxes can be just as important as the tantalizing prospect of saving money on taxes.

* Regions does not provide legal or tax advice. We recommend that you consult the services of a qualified legal or tax professional.

Tips icon
  • Save Time - Use free Regions Online Banking with Bill Pay to set up automatic payments for reoccurring expenses. Never search for a stamp again.
  • Save Money - Track all of your spending for two weeks—this includes coffee, magazines, tollbooths, etc. Look at the results and see where you might able to cut back.
  • Save for the Future - If your company offers a 401(k) retirement savings plan, make sure you're investing at least as much as your employer will match. That's free money!
  • Save Time - Schedule errands around your other appointments so you don't waste time driving back and forth all over town.
  • Save Money - Examine your cable bill, cellphone bill, home security system and other monthly expenses to see what services you really need. Call each company to see if you can get a better rate. Consider bundling these services with one provider for a discounted package rate.
  • Save for the Future - Set up automatic savings transfers from your checking account, so that you are always saving.
This information is general in nature, is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. Regions neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.