Arf! Arf! It’s me, Breyer, the office curator. This is the next installment of my Cook CPA blog, and I am still giving the best advice a dog can.
I am so glad that we dogs rely on your humans to take care of us–we don’t have to worry about an annual tax filing. I am sorry to let you know that even though you provide great care for us, you can’t claim us as a dependent.
What I can help you with, though, is by giving you some efficient tips on finding a way to minimize tax season stress. This blog will identify key steps you can take to make the process smoother, resulting in less stress for you.
Reducing Tax Season Stress By Reviewing Your Documents
The most significant step you can take to make the process easier and alleviate tax season stress is reviewing your information and documents before handing these materials over to your CPA firm.
This ensures that your CPA is able to accurately calculate your return on the first review. This will minimize any surprises since updated information may result in recalculating your return or what is owed.
Another reason to review everything before handing the materials over is to avoid the kind of back-and-forth requests for information.
These always remind me of a dog friend of mine who waits at the door to go out, two minutes later is waiting at the door to come in, and once in, is waiting at the door to go out again. By the time this exchange is over the dog and owner are frustrated.
We suggest creating “financial mindfulness” which starts with having your documents organized as you move through the year, making sure that you are comfortable with the different technologies for retrieving and sharing those documents, and making a point to communicate questions early on.
The Tax Organizer – A Tax Season Stress Reliever
Most CPA firms will ask you to complete a tax organizer; this is your opportunity to communicate about important tax events that happened during the year. The organizer will allow you to upload key documents. We recommend becoming familiar with technology so that you are comfortable sending and receiving documents.
Minimizing Tax Season Stress By Creating A Clear Communication Path
Some other ways to minimize your tax season stress are about creating a clear path for communication. When you promptly respond to questions from your CPA firm, they can continue processing your return.
Consider requesting an exit meeting to review tax returns since this can help you to understand a complex tax return and this meeting would give you an opportunity to clear up any question you may have. This type of meeting can also help you prepare for the next tax season, further minimizing stress.
Eliminating Tax Season Stress (6 Powerful Tips)
We dogs have a mental checklist as we prepare for our walks–leash (check), circle three times near the door (check), bark and nudge the door (check), and finally, get the owner on the end of the leash (check). Below is our 6-point checklist to help you work toward a more stress-free tax season:
- Save tax documents to a separate tax folder as they arrive
- Schedule your tax appointment as early as possible to avoid last minute stress
- Use the tax organizer to make sure you have addressed everything. Don’t forget to completely fill out the organizer since doing so ensures you are ready for your appointment
- Provide all documents such as W-2s, form 1099s, cost basis of securities sold, total of charitable donations, and a rental recap in excel to your CPA at the first meeting.
- Review all your documents before handing them over to your CPA firm. This ensures accuracy and avoids surprises as updated information may lead to recalculations. Plus, let’s avoid that “in-out-in-out” situation and organize everything beforehand, so you and your CPA don’t go barking mad.
- Sign all documents such as the engagement letter and e-file authorization as timely as possible. Failing to sign these will create delays in filing which can lead to frustration for you
- Be kind. It is a very busy time as deadlines change and there is an amazing amount of data for a CPA firm to process during this time. Kindness will create cooperation instead of adding more stress
So, let’s put those wagging tails to good use and make tax season less ruff!