Although many millions of American taxpayers file their taxes online without ever sitting down for a face-to-face consultation with a tax professional, there are plenty of good arguments to be made for meeting with such a professional. For starters, many e-filing services are suited to filers with extremely simple tax situations. Most of these individuals work one or two jobs and have little in the way of investments, savings or complicated obligations. These taxpayers typically claim a few common deductions and credits that can easily be calculated using the bare-bones software provided by free online filing services.
If your tax situation is more complex, you should consult with a tax professional or purchase a "professional" online tax-preparation package. In either case, you'll stand a better chance of receiving adequate instruction and guidance. If you file your taxes with a registered tax specialist, you'll also have his or her colleagues at your disposal. Should he or she become unable to answer one of your questions or find the appropriate form for your filing needs, you'll be able to talk to another professional without picking up the phone or leaving the office.
However, tax professionals have been known to make mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes can often be costly. When your tax preparation specialist makes an honest mistake, you run the risk of losing a significant amount of your tax refund. Most such mistakes concern missed deductions, omitted credits and misreported profit-loss statements.
If you feel that your tax preparation specialist botched your tax return or caused you to lose a significant amount of your expected tax refund, you may have recourse. First, check on the status of your return. If it hasn't yet been filed, you may open an account with an online tax preparation service and plug the applicable information into its interface. You'll need to complete the entire filing process without actually sending your return through to the IRS. Once you've completed the process, check the service's "expected refund" amount against the value that your in-person tax preparation specialist quoted at your consultation.
If the online service's "expected refund" is greater than your specialist's quote, take this information to the office at which you received your consultation. Once you provide this information, your specialist will probably re-check the numbers and confirm that his or her initial calculation was erroneous. If he or she refuses to admit fault, simply use the online service to complete your tax return.