Sanity checking my tax returns
March 19, 2017 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Does it make sense to hire a CPA to go over old tax returns and help me correct anything I've missed? If so, can you recommend someone in the NYC area?

I've had a really hectic lifestyle over the past four years. I think it's possible that I've missed something minor while filing my tax returns. I'd like someone with expertise to sanity check what I've done and help me fix any mistakes I've made. Is a CPA the right kind of person to contact for this kind of work? If so, I'd love recommendations for one in the NYC area.
posted by rhythm and booze to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Sort of depends why you think this needs to happen? Worst case scenario if you missed something not in your favor is you get a letter from the IRS or state tax people (I have gotten both) and you need to, at that point, pay them what you owe. There are sometimes late fees and penalties. My calculations would be whether those late fees and penalties you are likely to accrue IF there is a mistake would be worth paying a CPA preventatively to track them down. Because if there's a mistake, you'll owe the money anyhow. The only thing that would make paying it earlier make sense is if the fees would be out of control.

I have a tax guy and complicated taxes which I file and pay regularly and am frequently working stuff out with the IRS or the tax people anyhow. It's just paperwork drudgery it's not like people are going to garnish my wages or anything if I'm making good faith efforts to work things out. Without more information this sounds to me more like anxiety than something that would solve an actual problem for you. I can say that contacting any CPA about this for the next month or so is not going to be super useful (they are slammed with work if they are any good, I'd be concerned about any CPA that wasn't quite busy) so at the least you should back burner this for a month or two.
posted by jessamyn at 9:30 AM on March 19, 2017 [5 favorites]

Ruth Beltran is awesome.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:30 AM on March 19, 2017

Seconding Jessamyn. I missed something minor on my taxes one year. I got a letter from the IRS that said "Hey, you missed something minor and owe us $X extra. We went ahead and took it out of your tax refund since there was enough to cover it. See you next April!"
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2017

H&R Block will review past tax returns for mistakes and overlooked credits for free. Presumably in the hopes of getting you to have them do your taxes in the future.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:44 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've received letters from the IRS pointing out that I was eligible for a major deduction and didn't take it and that they corrected it and I'd be receiving a larger refund. They will catch stuff and get back to you, even when it's in your favor.

That said, of this is causing you great anxiety and you're fairly sure that there's a significant error, paying a CPA to review could be worth it even of it just makes the anxiety go away.
posted by quince at 11:01 AM on March 19, 2017

I missed something not-so-minor on my taxes in 2014 (I was on maternity leave in January/Feb and got 6 weeks of disability pay, and totally blanked on reporting this as income a year later when doing taxes) and the IRS just sent a letter in early 2016 pointing out my error and requesting the back taxes owed. I think there was even a small penalty but it was very small potatoes. I wrote the check and sent it in and that was that - I never heard anything else about it.

So, I tend to think you're very unlikely to have a CPA uncover the sort of major error in your favor that would cover the cost of hiring them, and if the mistake went the other direction (you underpaid), then it's likely the IRS will figure it out and send you a fairly non-threatening letter asking you to make it right.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:05 AM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agree that any tax prep CPA worth hiring in NYC isn't answering new client inquiries in late March.
posted by spitbull at 3:07 PM on March 19, 2017

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