What’s the process to most effectively allow your CPA to prepare your tax return? Let’s discuss the process from the client’s standpoint and the tax professional’s standpoint. You can watch the video or read the highlights below.
The Tax Organizer
The Tax Organizer is an extensive form that Burt & Company CPAs provides for you which contains information that relates to your previous year’s tax return. This information helps to jog your mind and bring up issues and things that you might have not been aware of. Although it’s more of a guide and not a requirement, we strongly suggest that you use the Tax Organizer and fill out that form the best you can. The checklist, located in the first few pages, may seem like very common-sense type of things such as, ‘are you married, are you not married,’ and you might think to yourself, “my preparer knows these answers.” Either way, fill your answers in completely because there are items in there that will alert the CPAs to updates that you may not be aware of such as:
- A tax event
- A tax deduction that you made be allowed
- A tax credit
- An issue we can go over
What You Need To Bring
Here is a list of what to provide your CPA, which would include your:
- 1099 forms
- Interest income
- Brokerage accounts
- Any other relevant information you may have
What CPAs don’t need is a shoe box of information. When you hear the term ‘shoebox,’ referenced by an accountant, that means receipts and items that are not organized. If you’re in doubt with a piece of information and questioning if you need it or should we have it, we would suggest you bring it in and your CPA will be able to determine that for you.
If you have QuickBooks, we would urge you to provide the CPA with the QuickBooks reports. Those reports contain all of your information in which the CPA can pick and choose to find the relevant information that they are looking for. Two ways to provide the reports is through a flash drive or File Share, a secure electronic document storage we provide on our website.
Overall, we advise you to try to fill in that organizer as much as you possibly can and list the breakdown of the different business expenses. It helps so that on our end, we will analyze what you’ve written and we won’t just blindly use every number. When we see issues or items that we have questions about, we’ll definitely ask, but please know it takes us less time which is less expense on your tax return when you fill that in.
Deliver Your Information Timely
Remember to please deliver your information to your CPA as soon as possible. You do not have to have all of your information when you bring your documents to your CPA. People are often missing their K-1’s from Partnerships, 1099s that may come out a little bit later in February, sometime in early March from brokerage accounts (that’s the most common late document). It’s easy for us to fill in the blanks and we can get a head start, so bring your other information in. We can complete it easily when the missing information does finally arrive.
The reason we encourage for your information to be brought in as soon as you can is because around March 15th there’s going to be a good chance that tax changes could occur again. We want to treat every client as if they’re our only client and we do everything we can to do that, but in reality, there are many clients and we’re very busy. There’s a lot of backlog and there’s no way of getting around that.
As we move into March and obviously into April we would encourage you to sign and return the engagement letter that we provide you. That 6 page Engagement Letter explains the terms and when you sign it, it means you have read and accepted the terms and you allow our services to prepare your tax returns. When the tax return is completed and ready for you, we will reach out to you. It’s up to you on whether you want to pick it up or have it mailed to you.
Payments to the Government
Be aware that we can file your tax return well before April 15th.
When money is owed to the IRS, we know that most people do not want to pay the money early or they don’t have the money to pay early, but we can still file the tax return so that it is timely filed. We can file a tax return on March 1st if that was the case, and you do not have to pay any money that would be due until April 15th. If you decide to file your returns electronically, we will include forms from the federal and state, also known as an e-file form, for you to sign. Your signature authorizes us to file your tax for the past year, and we encourage that you do that promptly.
Please know that if you’re filing jointly, both spouses need to sign the e-file form. Don’t wait just because you don’t want to pay; don’t wait until the due date of April 15th. Once the CPA receives your signed e-file forms, they transmit the tax return to the IRS. We watch and we receive a notification back from the IRS that your tax return was received and was accepted. Nine times out of ten or probably ninety-nine times out of a hundred it’s immediately accepted. Certain times there could be a rejected e-file but not very often, and it’s usually a scenario such as a child claimed as a dependent by one parent in a divorce case, while the other parent may claim that child as well. Only one dependent can be claimed one time, so that’s an automatic rejection. Should there be a rejected e-filing, we will either fix it on our end or notify you of some kind of changes that are needed, making it a really smooth process.
We’re ready to help you so bring your information in and we’ll get on it.