What information does my CPA need to file my tax return?

January 30, 2017

I am asked many times at the end of the year what information I need. Each answer is different but similar. The most important things are obviously what you receive in the mail marked “important tax document”. These items should come to you before the end of January or shortly thereafter. This is a good start. In addition to these items, I will need to verify your identity. Yes! I know…. It is a new requirement by the IRS to help prevent the increase in fraud. So, if you will go to the forms tab on my website www.cpa2solutions.com, there is a link on the home page as well as a menu item marked “forms”. Go there and enter the necessary driver’s license information.

Besides the documents mentioned above, I will need all other relevant information. You may ask what is relevant and that’s a good question. As a CPA, it is hard for me to know what has occurred in your life during the year. It is also hard for you to know and what is relevant. So, I’m generally tell my clients if you are in uncertain in any way just ask. I provide all my clients with an organizer if requested. I also have a blank organizer here on this site for you to download and print. Many like this organizer and find it useful but many do not. Each of you will have your own method for gathering information. Many of you will simply look at the prior year tax return and use that as a reference source for preparing your information for this year. The client organizer is just there to assist you and jog your memory of anything you may be forgetting.

Each CPA is different, some require the source documentation some do not. I do not. If I see items of deduction which are of concern to me I will contact, you and request source documents or clarification. Oftentimes we are inundated with too much information. My clients tend to try to be more inclusive than necessary. Most of the time a simple summary is all that I need. I appreciate the effort of my clients in trying to be as thorough as possible. However, many times I will find summaries which aren’t actual summaries they often contain the same information in multiple places. With the same information in multiple place, I now have the task of determining if this is duplicate information or is this additional information which needs to be added to the prior information etc. This turns into more time and more effort. I want to say this again, if you are uncertain just simply include it. I don’t mind finding information that is irrelevant or unnecessary and simply moving it to the side. There is no penalty for you sending me information which I don’t need. I would rather have the information and not need it than vice versa. Just be aware that a summarization of expenses is all that is necessary for me to group the expenses accordingly.

If you have a business which is reported on your tax return as a sole proprietorship, then group all those expenses together. If you have rental properties reported on your tax return, then group all those expenses together. Follow this method throughout your summary. All medical expenses will be grouped, this includes a medical mileage. There will be a summary of all donations, etc. If you are not used to summarizing these deductions by your own method, then please download the organizer and utilize only the portions which are relevant to you.

I like to see questions throughout my client’s information. I will respond to these questions and return this information to my clients. If you have a question about something you have included, simply create your summary as you normally would and at the very end write a short note or brief question and let your me know. Request that I call you when preparing your return. I will be happy to do so. Remember nothing gets filed until you approve and completely understand your tax return. If you’ve included information in your summaries that you don’t find on your tax return I encourage you to contact me and inquire why.

Many times, we as preparers, are not aware what our client’s questions or concerns may be. A brief note somewhere in your summary that says call me or a question or request is great, I welcome this.

Remember, it is a simple process. Don’t let this process stress you and don’t worry about missing something. If there are questions, include it. Don’t worry about giving me too much information I am OK with it. The main thing to remember to make the information as simple as possible. Be sure to include it only once. We will make sure it’s placed in the proper location on your return.

I truly appreciate all of you and I appreciate the opportunity to be of service. My purpose in posting this is to make you aware that it’s not a big deal. We will get it right. If you have questions I welcome them and I will do my best to answer them.

Chris

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