How to Help Your CPA, Especially During Tax Season
For the vast majority of Americans, tax season is stressful. Our tax code, which all taxpayers must strictly follow, is complicated and changes often. The good news is that I’m on your side, and I want to make your tax season as low-stress as possible.
You can do several essential things to make the tax prep and filing process move along smoothly, which will allow me to keep your costs down. I have four requests, detailed below:
- Be Organized Throughout the Year
This, I realize, is easier said than done. However, the scramble to gather and organize your tax documentation at the end of the year becomes more difficult when you don’t stay organized throughout the year. With the financial software and paperless documentation options we can access, I believe this task is perhaps easier now than at any other time in modern history.
- Bring Me Complete Documentation
The most common complication (and time-consuming frustration) I face during tax season is my clients bringing me incomplete documentation. Keep in mind that each of the following documents serves to help me secure your largest possible return, and it is ideal if you include each of the following (as they apply to you):
- SSN information for you and each dependent
- Your most recent tax return
- Confirmation of the previous year’s health care coverage
- Medical expense receipts
- Records of additional income (including rental property income, inheritance, and investment dividends)
- Property taxes
- Business receipts
- Updated W9s for any employees
- Dedicated home office receipts
- Childcare costs
- Education costs (for you and your dependents)
- Receipts for charitable donations
- Receipts for any moving expenses (for you and your dependents)
- Give Me as Much Prep Time as You Can
If you think of tax season and April 15th pops into your mind immediately, please reconsider this mindset. While the technical “last minute” deadline is April 15th, I cannot do my best work on your behalf unless I have your documentation shortly after you’ve received your documentation. Barring any unusual delays, you’ll have everything by January 31st, so please consider submitting all of your tax-related documentation to me in early February.
In fact, those who file their taxes by the end of February can receive larger refunds. Give me as much time as you can; doing so will enable me to find and claim each deduction to which you are entitled.
- Be Honest with Me
I have said that my work is done on your behalf. I will further state that I am on your side. However, I cannot give you accurate, maximally beneficial advice if you aren’t fully honest with me.
I know that discussing your finances can be emotionally fraught, but I can guarantee you that it will ultimately be easier to disclose your situation to me now than it will be to explain discrepancies to the IRS down the line. I’m here to help you, not judge you.
Thank you for taking the time to read through my four requests. If you have questions about this or other tax-related concerns, please contact me. I am happy to clarify anything that will make this process easier for both of us!