The Planner's Perspective: Tax Season Tips and Tricks
By Paul Morrone, CFP ®, CPA, MSA
Your tax preparer probably isn’t a bad guy or gal. You may like them some years and hate them others, but that is likely predicated on whether you get a refund or have a balance due.
We’re fortunate to have a respectful and appreciative client base, so people storming out of here yelling four letter curse words doesn’t tend to be an issue. However, I can imagine that there have been several people sitting at a desk just like mine who have had some very nasty experiences. With several tax seasons under my belt, I figured it would be fun to put together some light-hearted tips and tricks to make your annual visit at the accountant’s office just a little less painful (for both you and them):
- Engagement letters are more than a formality. They are equally as important as your W-2. So is the form 8879.
- Provide your tax information to your preparer as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the busier they are. There is a *slight* correlation between hours worked and happiness.
- The tax code is overly complicated, and has gotten more complicated with all of the last minute regulation changes and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Your preparer’s job is ensuring you are in compliance with all of those complicated rules, not to ‘color outside the lines.’
- Review last year’s tax return and your preparer’s recommendations for the current year. Did you follow them?
- Don’t guess as to what the value of something may be. You may want to, but don’t.
- Accountants are anal. Just figured I’d clarify that one! They don’t expect you to be but the more disorganized you are; the more questions they should be asking you.
- Be neat and organized. Scraps of paper do not give your preparer a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling that the information you’ve provided them is complete and accurate.
- While you’d likely rather have a cavity drilled than send a check to Uncle Sam, it is equally as unpleasant for your preparer to have to break the bad news to you, even if they know you expect it. Don’t hate them for it!
- Yes, health insurance is a big deal, yes you should have had it all year, yes there is a penalty if you didn’t.
- Social security can constitute taxable income at both the federal and state levels, you may not think it is fair but it is what it is.
- Your accountant does not issue your refund and does not have a crystal ball to predict when it will arrive in your account.
- If you don’t want to pay state income tax, move to Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. You’ll also feel much less pain in New Hampshire and Tennessee.
As a friendly reminder, remember, only Congress has the power to change the tax code. If you don’t like it, please write your congressman or senator expressing your discontent with the complexity and ambiguity of the current system. Especially those of you subject to AMT – what a mess that is!
US Wealth Management New Haven and LPL Financial do not provide tax advice or services. Please consult your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.