Every year during the “dreaded tax season” accountants work long hours to meet the deadlines imposed by the IRS for filing individual returns and business returns. Every year, tax regulations change and become more and more complex. In recent years, many of the final tax changes have not been determined by Congress and our state Legislature until part way into the tax season – making it very difficult to prepare returns and making it impossible for businesses and individuals to plan accordingly. As frustrating as this is, you can take some steps to help make the preparation of your return go more smoothly. Although your tax preparer is there to help you prepare your return, it is ultimately your return. If you take responsibility for it, you will have more accurate results and save preparation fees.
Here are a few tips to help with this process.
- Use the organizer that was sent to you and fill it out as completely as possible.
- Provide your information to your accounting firm as early as possible in the season (provided you have received all your 1099s, brokerage statements, etc.) Your tax accountant cannot be expected to do everyone’s return at the last minute.
- If you are new to your accountant this year, send along a copy of your prior year’s return beforehand, so your tax preparer can issue you an organizer based on last year’s return.
- Do not bring a box or bag of papers and receipts and expect your accountant to sift through the material unless you are prepared to pay significantly more for your return.
Contrary to the many advertisements encouraging you to prepare your own return online or with software, a lot of returns are not simple and need the expertise of a trained professional to be prepared correctly. When you pay a tax professional to prepare your return, you are paying for knowledge and support should any problems arise in the future -“ something that you can’t get from a box.