Tax Return Tips: 5 Questions to Ask Your Accountant This Tax Season
Tax season is a stressful time for many people. Between trying to make sense of the newest tax laws to gathering all the necessary documents, it’s no wonder most people dread this time of year.
This is, perhaps, why nearly 75 million tax returns are filed each year with the help of a qualified tax advisor. These professionals are valuable allies at tax time, helping you set yourself up for the best possible outcome in the current year and beyond.
If you’re working with an accountant this tax season and want to make sure you get excellent mileage from the fee you pay, this article is for you. Below, you will find five important questions to ask your accountant when you sit down to complete your tax return.
1. What is the Best Way to Lodge Your Individual Tax Return?
You have a couple of options when it comes to filing your tax return, but according to the federal government, the best way to lodge your individual tax return is by using reputable tax preparation software and e-filing the return. This method ensures the fewest mistakes and the fastest timeframe for receiving your refund. You can do this with or without the help of an accountant, but doing it with an accountant is a good way to maximize your return and avoid mistakes that may lead to an audit.
2. How Does the Tax Preparation Process Go?
Most accountants will work around your schedule and needs. If you’d rather do your tax return in person, you’ll be able to schedule an in-office appointment. If you feel more comfortable communicating by phone, your tax preparer will be happy to set up a call.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll always be able to contact your accountant with questions or concerns. This is your time, and your tax professional will be happy to accommodate your schedule and preferences.
3. What Information Do You Need to Prepare and File My Tax Return?
Every accountant needs specific information to prepare and file a tax return. These documents may include:
- Identification for you and your family;
- A copy of your most recent tax return to give your accountant an idea of the deductions and credits you qualified for in the past;
- W2s and/or 1099s;
- Proof of expenses if you plan to itemize deductions.
Asking your accountant precisely what they need will minimize the time it takes to get your return done.
4. Can You Help Me Improve My Tax Situation?
Ideally, your tax return would come out to zero – no money owed to you or the government. Of course, this rarely happens, but your tax professional can help you get closer to that sweet spot.
They may suggest changing your withholdings from your paycheck, for starters. They can also fill you in on the way certain circumstances – like selling a house or getting divorced – can affect your tax obligation.
5. How Will My Side Hustle Affect My Taxes?
Whether you took on a pizza delivery job to pay down debt or turned your hobby into a business, any side hustle you do affects your tax situation, especially if it isn’t a traditional job where taxes are withheld automatically.
Your accountant can fill you in on how your side hustle affects your taxes – you’ll likely need to fill out extra forms and pay self-employment taxes, but all of this will be explained, so you’re not blindsided.
Tax season is a complicated and stressful time for most people, but by asking the right questions of your accountant, you can feel better about your financial situation.