Local accountants offer their advice as tax season heats up | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local accountants offer their advice as tax season heats up

‘Tis the season for gathering W-2 forms and finding old receipts.

That’s right: Tax time’s approaching.

As the April 15 income tax-filing deadline approaches, some people are turning to computer programs such as TurboTax.

But the cheapest way isn’t always advisable, local accountants contend.

Kelly Neiger, a limited certified public accountant (CPA) in South Lake Tahoe, said programs such as TurboTax are useful, but they don’t replace the human knowledge of tax law.

The programs work well for people in simple situations, such as if they’re single, don’t own a home, don’t have children and just have a W-2, said Shani Thompson, a CPA and owner of King’s Accounting in South Lake Tahoe.

People in more-complicated tax situations could miss out on tax credits because computer programs aren’t in-depth enough to cover some of the credits, Thompson said.

“You can’t ask a computer a question,” Thompson said.

Computer programs can help people prepare for the tax season, though, Neiger said.

Software such as Quicken and QuickBooks can help organize business or personal finances throughout the year. That enables figures to be readily available when needed, Neiger explained.

For those who aren’t as computer savvy, other measures can help during tax time.

Thompson noted that a simple step is to ensure that donations are made using a check or credit card. People don’t receive receipts if they donate using cash, Thompson said.

“(The IRS) is cracking down on those,” Thompson said.

People should also keep file folders for tax documents, Neiger suggested.

“That way, they already have it (when it’s needed),” Neiger said.

People also should remember to report their gambling winnings, Crystal Ballentine suggested in an e-mail. She is a CPA for David & Johnson, Ltd.

Congress’ recently passed economic stimulus package is another incentive to file tax returns early: Adults can’t receive their $600 rebate if they don’t file their taxes, Thompson said.

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