Complexity, Time Crunch Send Filers to Tax Pros

Federal income tax returns aren't getting any simpler, so more people are paying for extra help ... figuring they can spend some to save some.

Last year, 78 million American households turned to tax professionals to complete their returns.

Liz Weston of NerdWallet, a personal finance author and national columnist, says your options range from nationally known tax preparation chains to high-end CPAs.

NerdWallet says the factors include how much you're willing to pay for help, the value of your own time versus having someone else do it, the complexity of your taxes … and how much you're willing to deal with the IRS on your own.

Last year, 86 percent of income tax returns were filed using tax software -- and most were done by hired tax pros.

For business owners and people with major changes in finances, Weston suggests a higher degree of help, such as a CPA.

People pay accordingly. Americans shelled out an average of $273 to hire a professional preparer last tax season.

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