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It’s Tax Season

Five Questions to ask your CPA before filing

Young couple sitting in an office talking to a woman broker or investment adviser

It’s that time of year again—tax season. Hopefully you have received your W2s, 1098s, 1099s by now, and have maybe even started gathering your receipts and deduction documents together. However, no matter what type of taxpayer you are—the one that gets things done by the end of January or the one that waits until April 15th (or longer)—working with a CPA can be extremely beneficial.

Choosing a CPA

Doing your taxes earlier in tax season gives you the potential of having a wider selection of CPAs to choose from. By April, many are working around the clock to get clients taken care of. But no matter when you do taxes, you’ll want to find a CPA that’s a good fit for your situation. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Is their experience relative to your needs (for example, do they understand self-employment, small business, married couples, deductions, etc.)?
  • Do they have ample experience (this becomes more important the more complex your taxes are)?
  • Will they represent you if you end up being audited?
  • What are their fees?
  • Who will do your return—the CPA or a member of their team?
  • Will they look at past returns?
  • Do they have good reviews?
  • Are you confident in their ability, and feel comfortable sharing your information with them?

Fit is essential—so while you may get recommendations from friends, coworkers, or family, make sure to do research on your own as well. Once you make your selection, there are some important questions you can ask before they file.

5 Questions to Ask Your CPA Before They File

What is my tax bracket for 2017?

Just because you are letting someone else prepare your return doesn’t mean you should stay in the dark. Ask what bracket you’re in and why. It’s important to stay informed about your money.

Is there anything I may have missed that could impact what I owe or am owed?

A good CPA will have a lengthy conversation with you during tax season. To maximize deductions and get the most out of your return, they should have numerous questions for you. If you don’t feel they have all the information, ask about anything that might be missing. Some things to think about are:

  • Car purchases
  • Home purchases
  • Birth of a child
  • Change in marital status
  • Education
  • Deductions

The list is long, and a good accountant will go over everything with you to ensure you aren’t missing anything that could benefit you, or get you in trouble.

Is this the ideal filing status for my situation?

Most people assume that just because they’re married they should file a joint return. That may not always be the case. No matter whether you’re married or not, ask your accountant about what filing status to use, and why. They may even have questions that help them better guide you.

Are there any documents I’m missing?

Documents are crucial to supporting your return. Make sure you’ve given everything necessary to your CPA. They’ll let you know if there is anything pertinent they need to have on hand.

What information should I keep?

Once you file, it’s wise to know what to keep and what can go. Talk to your CPA about your file, and how best to organize it.

Tax season is a busy time of year for CPAs. While many are doing their best to care for you, it’s helpful to have questions of your own to ensure the most accurate return possible. And remember: Read through your return thoroughly before signing.

Check out tips for a smooth tax season

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