- Bring in all information at one time. We know you may be tempted to drop off information as you receive it. However, waiting until you have gathered all of the required documents and information before you drop off can reduce the time we spend receiving, sorting, scanning, and filing this information. Additionally, gathering all of your information before providing it to us allows you to identify any missing documents or information. Be sure to check this year’s information against your prior year return to ensure you have provided all necessary documents. Please include charitable contribution letters even if you have not provided them in the past. With the changes under the new law, this information is critical. Any time we spend tracking down missing information is time billed to you, and will increase your bill.
- Ensure all forms provided by our office are completed. All parties must sign and date the engagement letter before we begin any work on your return. Also, be sure to answer all questions on the questionnaire unless you answer the same questions on your organizer. It may seem redundant to complete this form every year, but please understand we are legally and professionally required to ask these questions annually. If you receive an organizer, take the time to complete it as accurately and completely as possible. Lastly, when selecting a date on the request form, be sure we have all the information we need by the associated deadline date. Again, any time we spend requesting a signature, asking for documentation, or asking questions that were not answered on the forms provided, will be billed to you.
- Update your information. Be sure we have all of your current information including a current driver’s license, address, phone number, and email address. Additionally, inform our office of any new dependents and provide their dates of birth and social security numbers. Other changes to dependents, such as a death or other situation, should also be noted in the information you provide. Ensuring your information is up to date expedites the preparation of your return and will help to keep costs down.
- Summarize business expenses. Nothing will increase the cost of return preparation more than bringing a box of receipts to our office. Take time before you drop off your information to sort, categorize, and total your receipts. Any time we spend totaling receipts and summarizing expenses is billed to you; the bigger the box, the bigger your bill. The same is true for business income. Setting aside a little time to summarize this information can save you a significant amount on your tax return preparation.
- Business mileage. If you use a vehicle for business be sure we have BOTH total business miles AND total miles driven (business and personal combined) for each vehicle. These totals should be easy to determine as you have kept a mileage log for each vehicle under IRS requirements. Be aware that round numbers (such as 7,500) are extremely unlikely to be accurate, as is “same as last year.” We are required to report this information in order to take any deduction for business use of vehicle.
- It’s a team effort. Preparing a timely and accurate return is a team effort. This is especially true if you have investments and are working with a financial advisor. Special situations such as excess Roth contributions, inherited IRA s, and certain legal matters may require additional information and cooperation from you and your financial advisor and/or attorney.
As we venture into the 2019 tax season we ask for your understanding and patience. The new tax legislation passed at the end of 2017 was already setting this tax season up to be a confusing one. But new tax laws plus a government shutdown? “Those two together, quite frankly, mean the perfect tax storm,” as aptly stated by an accountant to Yahoo Finance. Please bear with us as we navigate these waters of the new Tax Cut and Jobs Act.
There you have it! Help us help you save time, money, and sanity this tax season. As always, we appreciate you all and look forward to providing you with excellent tax service this season!
Campbell & Watson, CPAs, PC