As the 2015 tax season nears, MSN released their list of “7 Things Tax Preparers Wish We Would Do” to make life easier on your tax preparer. Tax season is a stressful period for CPA’s in Portland as well as the rest of Oregon. The following are my preparer tips which will not only save you time and money, but will help reduce the stress level of your favorite tax preparing CPA.
1. Get Organized – Most of us will be receiving our W-2’s, K-1’s and 1099’s over the next six to eight week. Now’s the time to create a “2014 tax” file to keep those documents in. Don’t forget to include those items that occurred during the year: donation receipts, medical expenses and non-reimbursed expenses related to your employment.
2. No tax preparer wants a shoe box of receipts – Each year one or two clients will bring in a shopping bag full of unopened envelopes, scraps of paper and receipts. Sometimes it’s understandable; a spouse died who took care of the taxes and the survivor does not know what documents to save or a new business owner, who thinks they should bring in every bit of paper. Going through a bag of receipts is a waste of our time and your money and often leads to mistakes when preparing your tax return. We simply can’t glean enough information from a scrap of paper to accurately prepare your tax return. It’s your job to add up your receipts and provide the tax preparer with the numbers.
3. Use the Organizer – In January we send out a Tax Organizer for your convenience. If you have not received yours, please contact us. The Organizer serves several proposes. First, it’s the best place to summarize your tax information. There are lines for W-2, 1099’s, mortgage interest and property taxes. It’s also a great place to update mailing addresses, dependents and tell us about any changes from last year. Second, the information from the prior year tax return is printed on this year’s organizer. Use the prior years information as a checklist to be sure you have collected and included all your information for this years return.
4. Don’t Hold Back – Send us all the documents we need to prepare your tax return. Sure, some K-1’s don’t show up till June, but the vast majority of businesses send out tax forms by the end of February. Missing information slows us down and increases the cost of preparing your tax return.
5. Get your tax information to us early – This year the IRS will begin to accepting tax returns on January 20th. Most of us will receive our tax filing documents by mid February. This means late February or early march is a great time to drop off your tax information. We try to hold to a two week turnaround. Tax information received after March 31st may cause your tax return to be put on extension and your return will not be completed until after April 15th.
6. If contacted by the IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue – contact us immediately. These are time sensitive documents and ignoring them, will not make them go away. The sooner we can assist you with resolving the issue the happier you will be.
7. Take a moment to review your return – No one knows your tax information better than you. If you have questions, please ask.
8. Contact us with your questions during the year – Ed does not charge for phone calls or responding to emails. He is here to advise you on just about any financial decisions you may make. Whether it’s buying, selling or renting property or starting or closing a business, you should understand any and all tax consequences before you do it.
Whether your CPA’s in Portland, OR or elsewhere, delivering organized, complete tax information will make preparing your 2014 tax return easier for everyone.