The time spent getting organized for your tax appointment is priceless. It gives you confidence that your returns will be filed timely, accurately, and that all qualified deductions are accounted for.
Partnering with an experienced Certified Public Accountant can bring you piece of mind and possibly tax savings. Here are some tips for making the best of that partnership:
Make your appointment well in advance of filing deadlines. Don’t rush the process to ‘get it over’. Allow plenty of time for reviewing this year’s income, expense and potential tax liability. Your tax professional has years of experience recognizing areas of potential tax savings that you might not be aware of. This is also a good time for some general planning for next year.
While pulling your documents together write down questions you have. Bring your questions and all the documents available that could affect your tax liability to your appointment. Here is a list of common items:
- W-2s: Make sure you get them all. If you have moved, changed jobs or worked under several taxing authorities (multiple states or cities), take time before your meeting to verify you have information on each one.
- 1099s: There are several you could be required to report-
- 1099-Misc for income not generated in a standard employment relationship, such as independent contract or self-employment income.
- 1099-INT for interest income from savings accounts, loans and other investments.
- 1099-DIV for dividends/distributions from stock investments or mutual funds.
- 1099-C for debt cancellations; cancellation of a debt you owe to another entity. This is treated as income by the IRS.
- 1099-R for withdrawals from an IRA or pension plan, annuity or profit-sharing plan. 1099-G for income paid to you by a government agency. Common examples are unemployment compensation and state income tax refunds.
- 1095s: Required for certain situations related to health insurance coverage-
- 1095-C: If you work for an ALE - Applicable Large Employer (50 or more full-time workers)
- 1095-B: From the insurance provider of an ALE or employer who self-insures its employees
- 1095-A: If you purchased coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace. This is necessary to file for a Premium Tax Credit.
- Information related to marriage, births and other changed in dependents during the year.
- Moving expenses related to job-related relocation.
- Tuition costs and related fees.
- Divorce or separation agreements – would include the details on allocation of tax liability, expenses related to dependents, and other details potentially affecting who qualifies for a tax deduction.
- Documents related to the sale, purchase, disposal and/or exchange of:
- Real Estate
- Tangible and intangible property
(Include the original cost of purchase, income from sale and expense related to transaction.)
- Schedule of income, expenses or losses from a related business, including assets purchased or disposed of. This would include Schedule K-1s, asset lists, business auto and mileage, etc.
- Other taxes paid or qualified deductions during the year, such as license plate fees, sales tax, property and personal property tax, donations or contributions to charities and non-profit organizations.
- Expenses related to a qualifying natural disaster such as flood or wind damage.
- Documentation of gambling income and losses, including lottery income.
This is not an exhaustive list. A call to your accountant in advance of your meeting would help determine what you need. If your meeting highlights that you need to provide additional information, submit this as quickly as possible. This will help your accountant complete your returns and filings in a timely manner. You could benefit from faster receipt of a refund or simply find relief in having that task completed.
Your accountant should be an advisor you trust to help you manage your income and tax liability throughout the year. Whether your income is from employment, an owned business, estate/trust or retirement income, or a unique combination of any of these, you should meet with them often. Let them know your situation; what your struggling with, changes you are thinking about, dramatic income/loss swings.
If you only meet with your accountant at year end, something vital could be overlooked. The frequency of your meetings depends on which services you need, but a good starting point is to meet with them once per quarter, especially if you are a business owner. The meeting doesn’t have to take all day and could even be a telephone conference. Quarterly check-ups may save you time in the long run as they help you stay on top of your financial status prior to year-end.
To schedule your next tax appointment, please contact BHT&D CPAs at (616) 642-9467, or request a complimentary accounting consultation.
By: Mindy Pennock