Online Tax Preparation Options for Small Business

John Krautzel
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Online tax preparation is obviously the way forward in accounting, and nowhere is the demand for online tax preparation more keenly felt than among small businesses. While large companies typically handle their taxes in-house and individuals have such simple returns that the bulk of them can be handled with a single form, small businesses have unique needs that make online tax preparation attractive. Here are a few ways you can get your company's taxes done online with a minimum of fuss.

One way to file your taxes is directly through the IRS website. The advantage here is that you can be certain the software is up to date and accurate. You can also be sure of filing in a timely manner because the IRS's online tax preparation tool doesn't pass through a third party. There's a drawback, however, because the IRS has found its online tax preparation tool to be more of an administrative headache than it's worth and has been strongly urging users to file through a proxy. Accounting professionals familiar with the IRS don't expect its online tax preparation tool to be available for much longer.

If the IRS website isn't for you, or if you're reading this after the agency shuts down the tool, your second option is to file through a professional service. Most retail tax preparation firms offer some degree of online tax preparation, and putting the company's accounts in the hands of Jackson Hewitt or H&R Block can save a lot of time with filing. The large firms are generally just as reliable as the IRS's proprietary site, and they even offer audit protection in the event of questions being raised. The downside is that such full-service online tax preparation is often very expensive and lacks the flexibility to handle certain special circumstances; though, some firms offer online tax seminars.

A flexible middle course you might consider is the independent contractor. Freelancing websites and individual tax professionals often provide a reasonably priced alternative to the large franchises while offering the time needed to go into your company's circumstances in considerable depth. The downside is in assessing the contractor's reliability. The quality of contractors varies greatly, and it's always important to verify an online tax preparation specialist's credentials with the relevant authorities before handing over your company's quarterly accounts.

While filing personal taxes is easier than ever before, and large corporations enjoy the advantages they always have, smaller concerns can find themselves caught between the gaps. Fortunately, there are several options available to your company, from direct filing to full outsourcing, that can make online tax preparation an efficient and affordable way to cover your obligations.


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