Tax Day is fast approaching, and tax professionals all over are rushing to get their returns ready to be filed on time. If you are a tax client, then sample a few of the things your tax professional would not want to hear from you until the tax scramble is done with. From the bottom up – here they are:
11. I’m really busy this week so I’ll stop by on the 17th to do my taxes.
Taxes are due on the 17th. And despite what your calendar looks like, you can rest assured that your tax pro’s calendar is busier. While it’s true that your tax pro needs to be flexible – and you do have until April 17th to file – don’t stress everyone out by cutting it that close.
10. I owe more than I did last year. What did you do wrong?
Even if your situation doesn’t change a bit, the Tax Code is constantly changing. For example, the Making Work Pay Credit expired in 2010 and was replaced in 2011 with the payroll tax cuts. The credit was a flat amount but the cuts are based on a percentage. So depending on your income level, you could see more of a cut – or less – or it might be the same. Ditto for changes in the standard deduction and personal exemptions. Don’t assume your preparer made a mistake. If you don’t understand why you owe more, ask. Nicely.
9. I took my girlfriend to Vegas when I was on business so can we say she was working and claim her, too?
Now, why would you ask your tax pro to lie for you? A good tax pro will absolutely make an effort to spot opportunities to help you save on your taxes. But that means looking for honest deductions, not creating bogus ones.
8. My ex and I have a divorce agreement about who gets to claim the kids but a lawyer wrote it and I can’t understand it. Can you figure it out?
You hire a divorce attorney for a reason: to assist you in a divorce. That attorney ought to be able to explain to you in plain English what your divorce agreement says. It’s not your tax pro’s job to figure out who claims the kids this year (or next year or the year after). That’s like asking a dermatologist to read your X-rays.
7. I had surgery in December but didn’t pay for it until January. But I could really use the deduction now. Can we just say I paid it in December?
Timing is important when it comes to taxes. And for most taxpayers, deductions and income are based on a calendar year. Your tax pro cannot turn back time any more than
Cher can (kudos if you get the reference). Don’t ask him
or her to try.
6. I have a really short tax question.
Tax questions are never short. If it’s really short and relevant – and you’re a client – call and make an appointment. And if it’s about next season, then see #2 below.
5. I can’t find my receipts but I can give you a pretty good guess.
You’re doing yourself a disservice if you can’t actually produce your receipts since most taxpayers tend to understate – not overstate – their deductions when they guess. Remember, too, that the rules require that you be able to produce your receipts if the IRS asks. If you can’t find them for your tax pro, you’re not going to be able to find them for the IRS. So either find your receipts or suck it up and take the standard deduction this year and then promise yourself that you’ll be more organized next year.
4. I forgot my Schedule K/Form 1099-DIV/fill-in-the-blank. Can I fax or email it over later?
You should show up at your tax pro’s office with everything you need. If you’ve forgotten something, you should make arrangements to come back at a specific time with the information. Making a mental note to send something “later” (whatever that means) is not the best system. What if you forget? Or the fax machine is out of paper? Or your scanner doesn’t work. There’s just so much room for error. Be organized. And if an accident happens – because they do – then make solid arrangements to fix it.
3. But I don’t want to file an extension.
Tough. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. But sometimes events conspire that result in the need to file an extension. Maybe you’re missing a form or you’re just a little too late in the season for your tax pro to get a complete, accurate return out to the IRS in time. It’s almost always better to file a complete, accurate return than to file an incomplete, sloppy return. Trust your tax pro on this one.
2. I want to meet and discuss next year’s taxes. Can we do it on Thursday?
Your tax pro will absolutely love that you’re being proactive about your taxes. Planning is important. And while we might like surprises on our birthdays and anniversaries, surprises on Tax Day are rarely a good thing. So setting up a meeting to discuss how you can plan for next year is a great thing – just not right now. Your tax pro has been up to his or her eyeballs in tax stuff since January. Give them a chance to breathe, to play a little golf, to hang out with the family… Your planning can wait a few weeks.
1. Wow, my taxes are so steep, I can’t afford to pay you now.
Seriously? I get that nobody wants to pay their taxes. But the person who is preparing them for you is doing you a service. You have to pay for that service. That part is not negotiable. What may be negotiable is the timing of the payment since many tax pros are happy to work out a payment plan but those plans should be worked out in advance. If you haven’t discussed otherwise, your tax pro is going to expect payment at the time that services are rendered. They have bills to pay, too. Oddly enough, someone has to pay to keep the lights on and occasionally your tax pro wants to eat. And a well fed tax pro is a happy tax pro. And everyone loves a happy tax pro.
Contents courtesy: Kelly Phillips Erb