How to Prepare Clients Now for Next Tax Season

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Bryce Sanders
President
Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
Columnist
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Times have changed. Your clients need a reason to adequately prepare in advance and if all they want to do is use a simple form and file their taxes, they are probably better off with a tax preparation service. But, if they want to minimize their taxes and actually plan for the year ahead, that’s where you come in. However, for you to do your job, they need to do theirs first.

Years ago, accountants joked about how clients would literally toss receipts into a shoebox, pile up their forms and send everything off to their CPA in the first quarter. 

Most accountants send clients a tax organizer months in advance, which used to be predominantly paper-based but like everything else, they’ve migrated to the digital world. Many clients still ignore them.

As an accountant you bring a valuable skill to the table – the ability to help a client legally minimize the amount of taxes they pay. And, as you know, this can be tough (and expensive for the client) if your client turns your job into a hunt for buried treasure.

As such, I have compiled a list of 10 ways that you can help your clients prepare today, so that you are both ready for the next season:

Let’s assume you either send them a tax organizer or an accordion folder to file documents as they arrive. You make the case why they should use it.

1. Business Expenses – In 2011 the US Census released a report indicating “approximately 75% of all US business locations are non-employer businesses. If your client runs a one-person operation, documenting business expenses can be tricky.  A simple system is to have a daily habit of putting receipts from bank deposits and client entertaining into a dated envelope.  This allows them to calculate mileage and account for petty cash expenses.  All these expenses should involve one checking account.  Receipts go in, expenses go out.  This maintains integrity.

2. Advice Given on April 15th – Earlier in the year, you logically passed on some advice when your client balked about the amount of taxes they pay.  You might have suggested municipal bonds for earning tax free income.  Have they followed your advice yet?

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