5 tips for ensuring that you are prepared for your tax time CPA meeting.

taxformsIf you haven’t already started, it’s time to get to work on your 2012 tax returns. This year, Tax Day – the deadline to file federal and state income tax returns – is back to April 15. Many of you will be contacting Bach, James, Mansour & Company or another CPA firm for assistance navigating through all of the old and new tax laws. The work that you do in advance of that meeting is critical to the timely and cost-effective preparation of your tax returns.

A little CPA meeting preparation can save you time and money

Organizing your personal preparation process can make the meeting go smoothly, and may even save you some tax preparation expense. Here are some tips to help make the tax return preparation process as easy for you as possible:

  1. Use the tax organizer. If your accountant has provided you with a tax organizer tool or document, use it and bring it with you to your meeting. If you are unable to complete any part, don’t worry about it. Your tax preparer can help you complete the organizer and will also want to check every section of the organizer along with all of your tax documentation.
  2. Bring all tax documents. Don’t forget to bring originals or copies of W-2’s, Forms 1099 and 1099-R, Forms SSA-1099 (for social security benefits), and Forms 1098 (mortgage interest).   When in doubt, bring the document! We need exact figures for money you earned and received, interest paid, income taxes withheld, etc.  The IRS also receives copies of these documents, so don’t risk errors by just writing down the information.
  3. Provide investment details.Bring copies of your brokerage statements if you have large sales or dividends. If you sold securities (like stocks) during the year, check to see if the cost basis of those securities is included on the brokerage statement.  If not, try to find or determine the cost basis before your meeting.  It will save us time, which may save you money.If you have investments in public or private partnerships, you will receive a K-1 from each one of those. Unfortunately, K-1s often do not arrive until late in the tax season. You can still meet with your CPA, but just make a note of any K-1s that have yet to arrive. If the K-1s arrive too late you may have to file for an extension.
  4. Add up your medical expenses. Provide only the totals for doctor and dentist expenses, prescription costs, health insurance premiums, and other medical expenses.  There is no need to show us the bills or statements.  If you or your spouse paid long-term care premiums, provide that information separately for each of you. Please don’t combine the totals.
  5. Supply charitable contribution receipts for larger contributions. While providing a total of all charitable contributions (cash and non-cash) is normally fine, you should bring copies of your receipts for larger contributions. Receipts for cash contributions should state something to the effect that no goods or services were provided for your contribution. For non-cash contributions over $500, provide the organization’s name and address, along with the contribution date, type of items donated, and the fair market value.  Donations of clothing and household goods are usually valued at thrift store prices, well below what you may think they are worth.

Streamlining your 2013 tax preparation process

By following these five tips, your tax preparation work will hopefully be a little easier than in past years. Whether you are a new client, or you have been working with the BJM team for years, we look forward to making your tax return preparation process as easy as possible. Please give us a call today to schedule your tax meeting.

Faye Sklar, CPA
Grady Allen, CPA