How To Save Time And Tax Fees
As I have said before on this blog (and with countless clients) it is always our goal to save you money and time. With that in mind, I made this list of a few simple things that can save you time and tax fees while adding value:
1. Divide, Organize (and Conquer)
Don’t keep a pile of stuff and hand it over without sorting/dividing it up first. While we can organize documents for you, we charge for that time by the hour. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given a shoebox full of receipts. Even a few minutes spent on your side to paper clip and label receipts can save a lot of time and money. If we have to organize it, it will cost more.
2. Get help with a “Tax Organizer”
Not sure what to provide us? Ask in advance for a list. We can send out an organizer to you every year, and we can let companies know ahead of time what we will need if you ask for a list.
(Want an organizer? I’d be happy to send you one!)
What’s in it?
For individuals, the organizer starts with a list of questions about your activity in the last year. Then, it recaps all the information provided from the prior year such as interest for different bank accounts from prior years, giving you the ability to cross out closed accounts that aren’t active for this year or to write things in and then organize new information (i.e. dividends, new businesses).
The happiest clients are the ones that fill out the organizer because it is a lot faster and easier (saving money and time.) For those that do not want to do this, we’re happy to help. But if your goal is to be as efficient and save as much money as possible, use the tax organizer.
Business Returns: If you did not get a list from us already, ask for a “Provided By Client” list and we can provide it. These are not “one size fits all” (Partnerships need different information than corporations. Real estate industry clients provide different information than manufacturers) so it requires a little more finesse.
3. Send Documents In Bulk
It is always better to give a stack of missing items than to send them one at a time and say, “What else do you need?” Being organized helps, but there is almost always at least one thing missing. We will send you a list of outstanding items before we can complete the return but resist the temptation to send things one at a time when you find them. If you give everything together, it is a lot more efficient on our end because we can open your files once, make all the changes, do a quick check for anything else outstanding and move on. Every time we pick up and put down your file takes more time and costs more money.
4. Meals and Entertainment?– Not Anymore!
With the recent tax reforms, entertainment is not deductible anymore. That means any “meals and entertainment” accounts need to be separated so the “meals” category is distinct from “entertainment” for 2018. If you didn’t do this already while you were filing your receipts, you can still do it now – and it is better for you to do it if you can than to have us go through every item to split them out. We can, but it will take a lot of time and cost you more money than if you can do it yourself first.
5. Don’t Wait – Be the Early Bird
You may think you need to wait until the end of the year to hand over your books or switch to a new firm. If you have never had an accountant and are looking to start with one, for example, there is no need to wait until the end of the year. Start as quickly as you can! That way, you will be doing everything right from the get-go. You can be organizing items as they come across your desk and make things so much simpler come tax time. You can also discuss planning opportunities as soon as possible. That way you will not have to completely revamp at the end of the year (when things get crazy and hectic for everyone).
6. Life Happens – Give Us A Heads Up
Throughout the year, let us know when you make any major life changes or decisions. You don’t need to give lots of details, but this way you don’t need to try and remember every little thing that happened come tax time. A year is a long time – a lot of things happen, and you don’t want to forget anything. When you give us a heads up, there will be a little note in your file that we already know we need to follow up on.
Far too many times I have had a client tell me in January that they bought or sold a home the year before, but all they have is a HUD statement and so that’s all we can use. If they sent a heads up during the process, I could bring up items they should keep a record of (or send over) to help save them more money on taxes. After the fact? There is often nothing we can do to make that up. It is always better to err on the side of communicating too much. It might seem inconsequential, but it could make a big difference, so what’s the harm in keeping us in the loop?
That’s it! Six tips to help you save time and add value. Ready to work on your taxes? Let’s chat!