Get yourself over to a CPA if …
■ You’re baffled. If all you need to do is fill out a 1040 every year, going to places like H&R Block or using programs like TaxCut or TurboTax should be fine. But when you need to fill out multiple forms and you’re dealing with new and unfamiliar deductions that might be available to you, it may pay to see a CPA.
■ You want audit backup. CPAs can prepare federal individual income-tax returns and represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service.
■ You need more advice. You can call on a CPA for tax guidance at any time of the year. And you can get other financial help by hiring a CPA who is certified as a Personal Financial Specialist, which means she has met educational requirements for providing financial-planning services, such as how to save for a new baby’s education.
CPAs are not always cheap, but the price might just be worth it.
You can find CPAs in your area by going to the American Institute of CPAs website at for local listings. Check the person’s credentials and any complaints at the Better Business Bureau. And always ask for an estimate before you hire someone!