According to the IRS, 80 million Americans use tax professionals to submit their tax returns. If you’re someone that uses an accountant or other tax professional for help completing your taxes, it’s important to leave yourself enough time to organize your receipts, income documents, and other tax forms before Tax Day.
If you are wondering when you should start preparing for tax season, here are some tips for how to gather supporting documents and provide them to your tax preparer within an ideal time frame.
How to Choose a Tax Preparer
If you’re like most taxpayers and don’t want the hassle of figuring your taxes out on your own, you’ll need to find a tax preparer. If you have never used one before, you should consider asking friends or financial advisors, such as a tax attorney, for a referral.
When you have found someone you think will be a good fit, be sure to verify that they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which proves they are authorized to handle federal income tax returns. It’s also a good idea to inquire about their fees, as some tax firms will take a percentage of your refund.
Book an Appointment with Your Preparer
Once you have chosen a tax preparer, you should schedule your first appointment sooner rather than later. It’s best to start the tax process early; the earlier you start, the sooner you’ll get your refund. If you procrastinate scheduling an appointment with your tax preparer, you run the risk of not getting your taxes submitted by April 15.
If your taxes are not submitted by Tax Day, you can miss out on opportunities to reduce your bill, such as making a deductible contribution to a retirement account.
Gather Your Tax Documents and Forms
Usually, you’ll receive all your tax documents from your employer or employers by the end of January. Additionally, if you have investment accounts or do business with brokerage firms, you should receive additional tax forms that outline your income in those accounts. Some of the most common forms you may receive during tax season include:
● Form W-2, the form received by anyone who was on payroll at their job
● Form 1099-DIV, which includes any dividends from investment accounts
● Form 1099-MISC, which includes any non-employee compensation paid to independent contractors
● Form 1099 B-9, which reports any gains or losses on securities transactions
These are just a few of the common forms that taxpayers receive during tax season. Once you’ve received all your forms, you should provide them to your tax preparer.
Gather Your Receipts
The receipts you choose to submit will depend on whether you’re itemizing your deductions or claiming the standard deduction. The path you choose will depend on the specifics of your finances, but you’ll want to choose the strategy that will give you the biggest write-off.
The only way to choose the most lucrative deduction strategy is to add up all your itemized deductions and compare that with the standard deduction, which is $12,400 for single taxpayers and $24,800 for married couples filing jointly. If your itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction, you’ll probably want to itemize. Your tax preparer can assist you in examining your finances and choosing the strategy that will be best for you.
Meet with a Skilled Tax Resolution Attorney
No one likes filing their taxes. However, getting a head start on the process will ensure the most favorable outcome. When you start filing your taxes early, you can maximize your deductions and lower your tax bill.
If you are struggling to pay your taxes, you should contact a skilled tax resolution attorney. A tax lawyer can help you determine the best payment plan for your situation. At Morgan Sebastian Law, Attorney Becky Sebastian is eager to help you navigate the complexities of your tax situation. We understand the challenges of paying taxes while experiencing financial hardship, and we are here to help you handle negotiations with the IRS.