The Difference Between an Accountant and a Tax Preparer

Accountant vs tax preparer

When it comes tax time all those who have to file begin to seek out some professional help. It is also the time of year when it is normal to see a lot of temporary offices pop up for the purpose of offering tax services.   They offer lucrative rates for tax preparation and extended hours and perhaps other incentives to use their services.

There are several options that you have when it comes to preparing your taxes.   You can do it yourself.   You can have a friend or family member do it for you.   You can use a tax preparer.   Or you can use an accountant.

What are differences between all of these resources?

Doing it yourself:

  • Do your taxes yourself may not be a problem if you have the extra time.
  • If you have a basic understanding of the tax rules and regulations as they pertain to you.
  • If you have a simple tax return to complete you probably won’t have any difficulties.
  • If you are good at using your computer you can file your taxes online.

The downside:

It is easy to make a mistake when doing even simple tax returns.   Often the tax return may appear to be so simple, that its completion is rushed through, and potential credits can be missed, or a simple error can be made that could result in the delay of a return if one is expected.

Friends and family assistance:

If you have a simple tax return and don’t have time to do it yourself this may be an option.

  • You may have a friend or family that is business orientated which may help them understand your tax situation better.

The downside:

Often family and friends have familiarized themselves with completing tax returns over a period of several years, and they may not be keeping themselves up to date with the latest changes. These changes could be important in regards to your taxes and they are not being addressed as they pertain to you.

The tax preparer:

  • The tax preparer usually has had some type of training in regards to tax preparation.
  • The individual offering these services may be more advanced in their knowledge compared to yourself or your friends or family.

The downside:

The average tax preparer only focus on your specific tax issues, and may be limited in their expertise when it comes to more complex tax returns.   A novice tax preparer may not be able to easily recognize what may be a complex tax situation and as a result errors or omissions on the return can occur.

The accountant:

  • This professional has received extensive training in tax accounting.
  • The accountant offers other services related to finances, such as attending to the accounting needs of businesses, or even the average tax payer who has investments, or complex tax issues.

The downside:

For the tax payer who has no real income or investments or tax issues that they are dealing with, it is unlikely they require the level of expertise that the accountant has to offer.

Don’t cut yourself short on your possible tax savings. Contact us here at TorontoAccountant.CA and let us help.

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Sam Seidman, CPA, CA, LPA
629 Sheppard Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 2S3

Telephone: (416) 398-1700
Fax: (416) 398-6226

Chartered Professional Accountant, Chartered Accountant, Licensed Public Accountant


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The information provided here and throughout the site of TorontoAccountant.CA is intended for general tax information only, and should not be misconstrued as a legal source of information regarding your tax situation, or be used for any other purposes other than for general information.
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