Lessons Learned From Tax SeasonJun 05, 2023
When it comes to taxes, I’ve always been on the client side – preparing financial statements, pulling supporting documentation and answering the CPA’s questions. I’ve done this as an employee as well as my clients when tax time rolls around. But I’ve never been the tax preparer - until now.
People ask me all the time whether I prepare taxes and when I say no, the next question is “why not?”
I never had an interest in becoming a CPA and preparing tax returns.
It just wasn’t something that screamed “fun” or “interesting”.
I like being in the middle of things and making stuff happen.
I never thought I’d be on the CPA firm side of a tax return, but I had the opportunity to do so this tax season, so I tried it out.
What could it hurt?
If I liked it, I could sit for the CPA exam and add taxes to my list of services.
If I didn’t, I’d at least learn a few things to help my clients.
Now that tax deadline has passed, I’ve had some time to think about my experience and I wanted to share it with you.
Observation #1 – You are not your CPA’s only client!
This was my first tax rodeo, so I had no idea what to expect. I only worked on a handful of returns because I was new and learning the process, but I got to see the workloads of the other people in the firm. CPAs and their support teams work around the clock through tax season to file as many returns as they can. This is NOT a 9-5 endeavor!
If you turn your information in at the last minute, don’t expect a miracle!
Your CPA is not sitting idly waiting for you to send your information in. They are processing returns for clients who’ve already turned their stuff in. Don’t demand that your return be filed immediately when you turn your information in the day before the deadline. Ask for an extension and follow up the next week to see when you can expect a draft for review.
Observation #2 – It’s your responsibility to review your own return!
People aren’t perfect, ok?
The firm I worked with has a review process set up so more than one person looks at the return to make sure things aren’t missed or entered in incorrectly. Even so, mistakes happen. The preparer could have made a mistake or maybe you forgot to send some information.
If your preparer asks questions, they aren’t trying to irritate you or waste your time. They’re doing their best to prepare an accurate return. Returns are prepared only with the information you provide. If something is missing or incorrect, this will affect the accuracy of your return.
When you receive your draft return for review, it’s your responsibility to review it. Go through each section carefully and make sure all of your tax information has been included. If not, follow up. But please be courteous!
Observation #3 – Filed an extension? Don’t forget your estimated tax payment!
Your CPA can file an extension for you, but that does not extend the due date of your estimated tax payment. You are still responsible for making an estimated tax payment by the original tax filing date. And please don’t wait until the last day to ask how much this is!
One of the things you can request from your CPA based on your prior year return are estimated tax payment coupons that you can use to make payments online throughout the year. Your CPA may already provide these with your return, but if they do not, ask for them.
If your current year earnings are not similar to earnings on your last tax return, ask your CPA to put together a new estimate for you in March so your CPA has time to prepare the estimate and you have time to make the payment.
Observation #4 – Know your tax deadlines!
There are a lot of different tax deadlines!
If you own a business, you should know the tax deadlines related to your company structure and your personal return.
In Texas, we have to file:
- Federal tax returns
- Franchise Tax returns
- Sales Tax returns
- Property Tax returns
- Federal & State Payroll Tax returns
- W2’s, 1099-NEC and 1099-MISC
Each of these has its own set of requirements.
Every state has its own requirements.
Talk to your CPA & your payroll provider to make sure all of yours are being filed timely and that you are current on your tax payments.
Here are some references:
IRS Personal Estimated Tax Payments: https://www.irs.gov/faqs/estimated-tax/individuals/individuals-2
IRS Business Taxes Information: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/filing-and-paying-your-business-taxes
IRS Tax Calendars: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p509
I’m very glad I had the opportunity to work in the tax department and see the other side of the business.
I can’t say that the tax life is for me, and I won’t be adding taxes to my service list in the future, but it’s definitely given me some great knowledge to pass onto my clients and incorporate into my planning structure to make tax season as easy on my clients and their CPAs as I possibly can!
Need help getting your books ready to file your taxes?
Harrington Strategic Partners offers catch-up bookkeeping services to get your books ready for your CPA as well as monthly bookkeeping services to ensure you have current financials to make better business decisions!
Here's how it works:
- Book a free discovery call.
- We’ll discuss your situation and see if we’re a good fit to work together.
- Complete your bookkeeping assessment questionnaire. The assessment is used to determine the scope of the bookkeeping catch up project.
- After the assessment, you’ll receive a proposal for the project with a full scope of work.
- Then it’s up to you!
Note: These projects can take 10 – 40 hours of work or more depending on the complexity of the project. If you are behind on your taxes, it’s best to get started quickly so your books can be turned over to your CPA as soon as possible to minimize penalties and late fees.
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