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Preparing for this tax season

The New Year is guaranteed to bring one thing… tax season. For most accounting firms, tax season means coffee is always brewing and work hours are extended to make sure you meet the deadline. We know the process can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. For that reason we’ve put together a quick guide to help you prepare for this tax season.

Get Your Paperwork Ready

Before January arrives, firms are busy creating and mailing out client specific tax organizers. This is a personalized packet for you to go through and update any information if needed. This is especially important if this is your first time with a new accountant. Overall, the organizer should remind you what items to send in. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • W-2 or 1099 income
  • Rental income or expenses
  • Deductible receipts
  • Amounts paid for property tax, mortgage interest, etc.
  • Amounts paid for property tax, mortgage interest, etc.
  • Child care payment records
  • Brokerage statements

In most cases, the more information you provide, the less questions that will need to be asked later.

We know that around this time, you might be anxiously waiting for tax forms to come in as the deadlines begin to approach. See below for a quick guide on the estimated time you can expect to receive these common forms.

Form When to Expect
W-2, 1099, 1099-MISC January – Early February
1099-R (Pensions or Retirement Plan Info) January – Early February
1094/1095 (Health Coverage) January – Early February
1098-T (Tuition Statement) January – Early February
Consolidated 1099’s from brokers Around February 15th
K-1 (Partnership, Trust, or S Corp Income) Around March 15th unless your accountant is extending

If you have not received your forms by these deadlines, you might want to call and inquire about the status.

Avoiding an Extension

There are few cases where an extension is inevitable, especially if forms need to be corrected or if one of your K-1’s gets extended. If this happens or you feel you might need to extend, call your accountant and inform them. A lot of times extensions are misunderstood. It is often mistaken that you don’t owe anything until the extension date, but that isn’t true. You must pay an estimate by April 15th along with your extension. Your accountant will be able to guide you in figuring out how much you owe and the steps to take to avoid any penalties and/or interest.

Most accounting firms operate the same way during tax season. They refer to it as FIFO, which is accounting jargon for First In First Out. In other words, clients who bring their information in first typically get their tax return done the quickest. Being prompt is highly appreciated and recommended.

Once you’ve done your part, you can breathe and let your accounting firm handle it from there. See, that wasn’t so bad was it? April 15th will be here before you know it so get your paperwork organized and turned in promptly.

By Darian Betosky

Darian is a recent graduate from Augusta University and works as a staff accountant at Serotta Maddocks Evans, CPAs. She has completed the requirements and will begin studying for her CPA exam in the near future. She finds building client relationships and learning new things to be the most rewarding part of the job. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, being outdoors, and cooking.

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