Many individuals use professional tax preparers to complete and submit their tax returns, but it’s important to get your data and records in order in plenty of time to ensure that you have a successful tax return experience, whether you’re using a paid preparer or not, and here are some tips on steps to take before meeting with your tax preparer:
- Select a tax preparer
Asking friends and family for recommendations if you haven’t yet selected a tax preparer, is a fantastic way of finding a good one. Check that they have a PTIN, or Preparer Tax Identification Number which gives them the authority to prepare federal income tax returns.
- Make an appointment
The sooner you can meet with your tax preparer, the better, and if you’re expecting a refund, this is even more important to ensure that you receive your money promptly.
- Gather together your information returns
You will receive many information returns before tax time and matching them to your own records is vital for accurate form filling.
- Collect your receipts
If you’re opting to itemize your personal deductions rather than claim the standard deduction, you will need to show different receipts. Your choice will be centred upon a comparison between your itemized deductions and your standard deductions, to see which produces the better write off.
- Produce records of charitable contributions
Specific records are essential to claim any write-off for charitable donations that you may have made.You’re usually required to provide written acknowledgement from the charity for all contributions of $250 or more.
- Tax laws can change at the drop of a hat
A little research about changes to tax laws is advisable; for more detailed advice and guidance be sure to engage with a tax professional.
- List your personal information
Have the social security numbers of your dependents to hand as well as your own, along with details about properties that you own etc
- Do you require a filing extension?
Filing extensions may be granted if requested in time and will help you to avoid having to pay any late filing penalties, but it’s wise to pay what you think you might owe to reduce the risk of such penalties in the first place.
- Locate a copy of previous year’s tax return
This can be helpful for your tax professional and will often serve as a reminder of some of the items that you don’t want to be overlooked.
The early bird really does catch the worm when it comes to preparing for your tax return, and the sooner you can begin, the higher your chances of having a successful tax return experience.