Before you meet with your tax professional, make sure that you have everything ready. Know your social security number, your spouse’s social, and any other personal records about your family (birthdates for your children, social security numbers. etc.). Bring your tax returns from the last three years as well. Keep track of your charitable donations, as well as any W-2’s you received from your employers. Bring any other important documents you may need. Ask your tax professional for a checklist of important documents. Make sure that you bring everything. If you forget a receipt, your preparer won’t put it on your form, because they won’t know that it exists.
Don’t just bring a large box of receipts for your tax preparer to sift through. You will probably be paying per hour, so the longer they take to sort through your information, the more you will need to pay. Go through your receipts and create a spreadsheet of your deductions. Keep your documents in an organized folder or box so that you don’t lose anything. Ask your preparer how they would like you to present all of your information so that you can save time. Make sure that you start early, so that you are not scrambling April 14th to get everything done on time. Your tax preparer will thank you.
Your tax professional is there to do your taxes, not to talk about your life. If you waste time talking about trivial things, you will take away valuable time that they could be spending on your return. Try not to get too chummy with your tax professional, you will be paying them by the hour after all. That doesn’t mean that you should be rude, though.
Pay for Experience
When it comes to tax preparers, there are so many options. Unfortunately, some companies hire under-qualified seasonal employees to file your taxes. These individuals attend a crash course on taxes for a few weeks and then turn around to file your taxes. Chances are they will miss deductions, take more time, and possibly make more mistakes. They may be a less expensive option, but they may not be worth it. Instead, hire someone with years of experience, who knows the tax law forward and backwards, and can help you save money. You will pay a little more, but you will also probably save more in the long run.