Every year as April 15th rolls around, Americans turn to their accountants in droves to help file taxes and maximize their refund, or minimize their payments to state and federal authorities. Who could blame the average American for doing so, after all the US federal tax code consists of 74,608 pages of lines and codes. How is the average individual supposed to understand and decipher all of that information? As you turn to your accountant for help, consider these five tricks to avoid getting wrapped up in a lie.
Do Your Homework
The average accountant charges around $300 to prepare state and federal income tax filings at the end of the year. This charge, even though it could take as little as 30 minutes to complete the work, is justified by your accountant because they have convinced you that preparing those filings is hard and that bookkeeping can take ages. If you think you can do your own taxes and keep the books on your own, spend time researching those options. Services such as Taxslayer help you file your income taxes with easy-to-follow guidelines, and QuickBooks is renowned for its bookkeeping service for individuals and small businesses.
Research Your Accountant First
The last thing you need at the end of the year is an audit of your personal or professional finances. Walk into the average office of an accountant, and you’re going to see a lot of fancy documentation on the walls. However, do you know which accounting schools are the best or what different accreditations mean? Probably not.
Your accountant might not offer up a straight answer about how good they are at their job, but the Internal Revenue Service knows. You can research a potential accountant with the help of the IRS or a number of other services so you better understand the truth behind the credentials and education level of an individual accountant.
Bring Every Piece of Paper, You May Need It
This sounds like simple advice, and in reality it is just that. Accountants charge hefty hourly fees, and you don’t want to have to schedule a new appointment and pay even more because you forgot a form or don’t have the right copy. If necessary, verify ahead of time each of the forms your accountant needs. When in doubt, bring it all to the table to ensure nothing is missed.
Tax Time is the Only Time to Speak with Your Accountant
If this is something your accountant has told you, at best they are lazy, and at worst they do not value your business at all. An accountant shouldn’t just be there to file your taxes and tell you the bill at the end of each fiscal year. Instead, they should be willing to help you form the strategy of your small business or personal finances throughout the year. Ask ahead of time about their commitment before getting burned.
Your relationship with your accountant doesn’t have to be one founded on mistrust. You may show up for your appointment looking for certain deductions and help in lowering your tax burden this year, and your accountant will tell you that’s impossible. While it may come across as a lie or disinterest on their part, accountants do have to battle a good deal of misinformation regarding relevant tax deductions and credits. Be humble enough to have an open line of communication with your accountant, and you’ll be able to avoid the lies altogether.