While the past decade has seen the advent of several tax preparation programs that allow users to file their taxes online, these programs raise several questions: Will filing your taxes online find you all of the deductions you qualify for? Are these programs secure? What if you encounter an issue? Here, we will examine the pros and cons of using tax software versus the advantages and disadvantages of filing with a CPA.

Time

Depending on how complex your returns are, filing your taxes can take a fair amount of time. But, with that said, when you compare filing online with visiting an accountant, the time difference is clear. When you file online, you are still responsible for inputting all of the necessary information into the program. When you file with an accountant, they are responsible for wading through your information to complete the worksheets and calculations that result in your final return. This gives you the opportunity to spend your time doing what you want to do, rather than dealing with your taxes – which few people find enjoyable.

Cost

In terms of hard dollars, filing an online tax return is cheaper than using an accountant a majority of the time. Though, if you factor in deductions that can be missed when filing online, or the time you save, it can paint a different picture.

Security

The security of your sensitive financial data is absolutely crucial, and this is especially true when you file taxes. Accountants are your best bet in this category, as online tax filing services have infamously been susceptible to data-breaches and hacks.

Support

If you run into any issues or questions when filing your return, it is extremely helpful to have a real, live human to talk to. Rather than submitting an online form or having to reach out to a call center, working with an accountant gives you the freedom of information that online services can’t. From finding obscure deductions and credits to being available for any questions, accountants are experts in their field for a reason.

Filing your taxes using either method sure beats filing your taxes on your own, but when deciding between the two, make sure that you evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of each before choosing one over the other. This decision can save you money, time, and headaches down the road. Happy filing!