Many of those who fear going in to see a professional CPA accountant to have their returns prepared and filed, hesitate for simple reasons such as not have all their documents, not knowing where to start or think they will surely end up owing a lot of taxes.
Preparing for the Tax Consultation:
Most professional accountants have probably seen most scenarios before your visit and they are normally more than happy to assist in making things easier for you. Many clients are also often pleasantly surprised by the bottom line result of their returns that comes from being organized, cooperative and getting past the procrastination phase.
More importantly, in most situations the opportunity of increasing your refund and minimizing your taxes far outweighs the additional professional service fees involved. However, if you want to maximize that opportunity, your efforts, cooperation and the importance of having a solid accountant (See Finding a Good Accountant) who will assist you and make sure you have all your bases covered, are essential to the success of the experience and preparation for future years! In the end, it will be a much more enjoyable process and experience for all involved. In addition, the more you delay the more the interest and late-filing penalties will be, if applicable.
Ottawa Citizen article – Tips for hiring a pro to do your income tax
Basic Preparation Reminders
Preparation advice to help keep your processing fees to a minimum:
– Have all your documents with you and organized on your first tax consultation.
– Add, compile and summarize medical (per expense category, per individual), donations & all businesses expenses on a summary sheet (compilation tools should usually be available from your accountant).
– Have all your personal and tax information on hand for your dependents.
– Don’t drag the tax information gathering or accounting compilation longer than you have to.
– Respond promptly whenever additional information is requested from your CPA accountant.
Important items to have with you during your first consultation:
- Your last Notice of Assessment and any other government related documentation received.
- Have all your tax documents and slips for the preparation of your income tax returns. For example: donations, medical, receipts for senior home renovation, bus passes. Mutual funds and stock sales, RRSP, T3, T4, T5, etc… (a reminder list should also be available).
- All other relevant accounting documentation and summaries necessary for the preparation of your business statement. (See Top Ten – Tax Preparation Tips for Businesses)
- For new clients or if you have personal information changes from the previous year, please have that information available for the accountant. (See Income Tax Preparation)
- A copy of your last income tax return completed and filed. (New clients only).
Conculsion: Remember, the more you are organized, responsive and have all your information, the less time it will take the accountant to perform what needs to be prepared and the less it will cost you in service fees.
Word of Advice: The amount of benefits you will get out of the whole process is only equal to the amount of effort you put into it.
Have a great tax season!