This week has been spent on the phone with tax clients discussing the year end and setting up appointments for the early birds. So, I thought I would share a few hints on how to prepare for those tax meetings to help keep the cost of the tax preparation to a minimum.
Many of you should have received a tax organizer from your CPA around year end. These forms are a wonderful tool to help you gather your information based upon what you did the year before. Normally, we report the same sorts of things year after year. Therefore, it's nice to have a little reminder to speed along the process. Also, the organizer helps the CPA quickly accumulate and summarize the information necessary to prepare your return. And, the level of organization of a taxpayers information is directly proportional to the amount paid for the return.
Next, remember to write down all your questions for the tax preparer. I have had many meetings with clients who had tons of questions but didn't write them down so they couldn't remember them when we were in the meeting. It is also very important to think ahead to the next year and bring up any new tax issues to your preparer during the meeting. If some tax item is going to change in the coming year, your tax preparer needs to know to ensure that they have updated the estimated taxes you will need to pay for the coming year.
Finally, remember you are the client. Don't let a tax preparer rush you out of their office before you are comfortable that all your questions have been answered. The most stressed taxpayers are those that don't understand what's going on with their tax returns. It is your responsibility to make sure that you get the advice and information you need to understand everything on a tax return. So don't be afraid to ask tough questions.