When choosing the right professional to handle your tax preparation, the most important factor is not the talent but the location. Relative to where you are, you definitely want someone who lives nearby, ideally in the same city as you. CPA tax preparation San Diego-style is a lot different than the way a tax preparer in Sacramento operates. It’s simply because city, county, and state lines definitely matter when making sure you’re not only paying your taxes properly but getting the right deductions and developing the right long term tax strategy as well.

Chain: The Inexpensive Safe Bet

H&R Block and similar tax preparation services are the simple choice if your tax preparation needs are simple. The folks employed by these places might not be the All-Star lineup of tax gurus you ideally want, but they’re trained to know the particular tax codes of the geographical area they work in and will definitely not hold back any obvious and outstanding tax information. They will however have a tendency to skip over a personalized evaluation of your tax situation and miss hard to find deductions due to their commission-based minimum wage earnings.

Enrolled Agent: Serious but Maybe Too Serious

An enrolled agent is typically someone who either worked for the IRS in the past or at least passed the IRS certification exam. These folks will more likely than not be masters of federal level tax knowledge but could be less knowledgeable about the ins and outs of your local tax law. Because they’re federally licensed and oftentimes have direct experience with the Internal Revenue Service, expect higher fees.

Certified Public Accountant: Little Bit of Everything

CPAs are accountants who have successfully passed the state accounting exam. Whether or not they are talented tax preparers is a matter of individual skill but on the whole CPAs are the best bet when devising a tax strategy. This is especially the case if a recent event has caused your financial situation to change drastically in-sync with Uncle Sam calling his tab. Not all CPAs are good tax people, but many of them are and all it takes is a little legwork and some phone calls to find one that has both moderately priced services and the know-how to help you plan your taxable years ahead.

Tax Attorney: The Cadillac of Tax Preparers

The more sophisticated your tax needs, the more likely you’re going to need an attorney who specializes in tax law. You’ll be paying a lot more, but with that added cost comes confidence in discussing even the most dubious of tax loopholes with someone who is an expert on loopholes. Tax attorneys are best for people with six and seven figure incomes that need someone who not only knows tax law, but the potential penalties for breaking those laws and the way to maneuver through them if possible.

Choosing the right professional to handle your taxes is simply about which choice is the most practical for your situation and which is a waste of money. If you spend enough time looking you’ll find the right tax preparer. Chances are they’re in your neighborhood.