You need an accountant

Hiring a pro saves money — and hassle

Susan Bellows (left) met with Lyn Murphy in Sandwich recently. Bellows, who is self-employed, has hired an accountant to do her taxes for 15 years. Susan Bellows (left) met with Lyn Murphy in Sandwich recently. Bellows, who is self-employed, has hired an accountant to do her taxes for 15 years. (Steve Haines for The Boston Globe)
By Brittany Danielson
Globe Correspondent / March 20, 2011

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Susan Bellows of Hampden is a sales and marketing strategist and owner of consulting firm Susan Bellows and Associates. Bellows says she has always gotten professional help with her taxes. She made the case for using an accountant to Globe correspondent Brittany Danielson.

I’ve lived all over and used different tax preparers, but I’ve never tried to do my own taxes. I have math anxiety, and I’m also very impatient, so the idea of reading through legislation is a major deterrent for me. And because I’m self-employed, I want to be able to get all the deductions I can.

I’ve also had some other income from an inheritance, so I want to make sure I’m getting the right kind of help. I want it done right.

Prior to using my current accounting firm, Alexander, Aronson, Finning & Co. out of Westborough, I used professional tax preparers for seven years. I was very happy with what they were doing, except when I switched to my current firm, I found out that I hadn’t been taking half of the deductions I was entitled to. I had no idea about certain things I could deduct. For example, I now deduct mileage for medical appointments.

The first time I used tax preparers, they didn’t give me any guidance on how to organize my materials before I came in. I brought in tons of folders and a mess of stuff, and it cost me a lot of money.

Now my process is much more streamlined. I have great records, and my accountants give me a tax planning guide, so I’m able to gather all my tax materials in about a day.

Since I switched to my new accountants, I end up getting a lot more back and saving a lot more money. I know I wouldn’t find all these deductions if I did my own taxes with an online service. I also love that I don’t have to pay attention to tax laws. I can focus on my business and the things I need to know, while my accountants focus on what they’re really good at.

What I like about working with them is that they have a business management perspective. They’re always thinking about what they need to let me know to help me run my business more effectively. They’re not just bean counters. It’s not just a transaction. And they’re not charging me extra for doing an in-depth analysis.

I also know I’m not just a number. I’m dealing with one of the founders of the firm. I’m not a big megabucks person, but I’m getting service like that.

I spend between $750 and $1,000 at tax time. And it’s well worth every penny.


Tax changes for 2010

Tax changes for 2010

Before you file your taxes, check out these 25 things to know.