Talking to an accountant around tax time can sometimes be a bit stressful, especially when you want to make the most out of the time you have with him or her. Here are five questions to help you get ready for the meeting and get the most out of your accountant relationship.
Question #1. What information do you need from me?
To help your accountant identify deductions or other tax-advantaged opportunities expect to spend some time sorting through your receipts and account statements in preparation. This advance organization won’t take a direct bite out of your tax bill but will help you avoid unnecessary trips bringing your accountant new documents as you find them. The earlier you can provide the complete picture of your financial situation, the better. Try to categorize your documents into groups such as business vs. personal expense receipts. If possible, add up the amounts in each category and print off any expense reports you have to give your accountant the overall summary.
You can also invite your accountant to access your FreshBooks account directly so they can generate reports based on your data themselves.
Question #2: Are there any special ways I can save on taxes this year?
By talking to your accountant about major projects, purchases or investments from the past year you’ll find out if any of them trigger tax advantages. Your accountant should know if your business activities qualify for any special credits or deductions and how you can claim them.
Question #3: What should I do now to save on taxes next year?
Did you qualify for all the deductions available to you? Could you be paying less in taxes? Your accountant can analyze your return and tell you what changes might help you to lower your bill in the future. For example, are you contributing the full allowable amount to a retirement savings plan? If not, you may be missing out on some significant tax advantages. You are also giving up the chance to get a head start on what could grow to be a significant nest egg when you’re ready to retire.
Question #4: How can I get a big refund?
Refunds sound like good news, but if you expect to receive a large one this year, that may be a sign that you’re having too much withheld from your paycheck. Refunds are really money the government has been holding on to that you could have been using yourself during the year. Ask your accountant about whether adjustments to your withholding or estimated payments are called for.
Question #5: How else can an accountant help me?
Taxes are just one small piece of the financial puzzle, but the time you spend thinking about your finances at tax time can help identify smart changes you should be making in how you manage your money. Remember that your accountant has the expertise to help with all your financial questions. Turn to him or her when you want the advice you need to make smart financial decisions.
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About the Author: TheMassachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, Inc. is the state professional association of certified public accountants, representing over 10,000 members in public accounting practice, industry and business, government and education. The Society works to develop and maintain high professional standards and offers a wide array of legislative, technical and referral services to its members.