written by: Lori Soard•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/5/2011
Filing taxes can be a real headache for business owners. If you own a small business that only makes a marginal profit, or if you are just starting out, you might not have a lot of money to hire a professional accountant to work on your taxes. That's were free services can come in handy.
slide 1 of 3
Why Get Help
Why not just complete your own tax returns? Although many small business owners are more than capable of filing their own sole proprietor returns, if you choose to form an S Corp to save money on taxes, or your taxes are a bit more complicated, you may want to seek the help of a professional to avoid costly errors.
In addition, a tax professional may know about deductions you can take that you have not heard of. The tax code changes every year, but tax accountants and professionals take training each year to stay up to date on the latest code both at a federal and state level.
slide 2 of 3
Places to Get Free Help
There are several ways to get free help with your taxes.
IRS - The IRS is the most obvious choice, but one that many people overlook. Some people are scared to phone the IRS with questions, however, the tax agents who answer their 1-800 number have up to the minute information that may help you file your taxes correctly. You can get free information at the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/index.html.
Small Business Administration (SBA) - The SBA often has retirees at their local offices, who will provide free advice on everything from how to start a new business to recordkeeping for taxes. Visit their website at http://www.sba.gov/ to find a location near you and see what they have to offer.
Low Income Freebies - If you make under a certain amount and are not filing an extended form, many online tax programs, including the IRS e-File site offer the ability to file your taxes at no charge whatsoever. How much you make, and how complicated your taxes are will help determine if this is free to you or not.
Outside of the more obvious solutions, there are many creative ways to get free and inexpensive help with filing your small business taxes.
Local colleges - Local universities that offer accounting programs may have students just itching to try their hand at some tax preparation. These students are likely to know the latest techniques in keeping records and updated tax law information. Although many students are more than proficient, it might be a good idea to pay a small fee to have the final product looked over by a more experienced professional or to at the very least go back over it yourself to be certain there are no errors.
Trading services and products - If you are on a very tight budget, don't have a university nearby, and the available free services are not cutting it, you may want to talk to a nearby tax professional and see if the two of you can work out a trade. For example, if you run a small deli, you might trade lunches for a few weeks in exchange for tax preparation. Just make sure that any such trades are legal. The tax professional should know the rules involving such service trades. You may need to write receipts to one another for the value of the services, for example.
Family - If you have a family member who works for a large tax preparation service, you may be able to get your taxes completed at a big discount. Don't rule out aunts, uncles and even cousins to find out if anyone works for such a service during tax season and what kind of deals they can get for you.
How Home Offices and Self-Employed Can Save Even More on Taxes
Tips for little-known tax breaks you might be overlooking. Consult with your accountant or a tax professional to be sure you are meeting your state's tax codes and any recently updated federal codes. These articles will give you a starting point and hopefully save you a bundle in the process.