Behind the Scenes by Melissa Hayes

January rolls around, the holidays are over, and then it hits you – it’s almost tax time. This may cause nausea, sweat, and anxiety for some, but it does not have to for you! While we are currently unable to prepare your tax return on the spot (we want to be more thorough than that), Associates in Accounting has tried to create a system that is virtually painless.

Many first-time clients are intimidated by the tax preparation process at a CPA firm. It seems scary and unknown… kind of like the back of your college refrigerator. The process of tax preparation looks a bit different depending on where your taxes are prepared.

This time of year, you will see many pop-up tax shops that will set up in grocery stores and shopping malls to prepare your tax return on the spot. While this may be a great option for some, it does not have the same types of advantages as taking your tax preparation to a full-time accounting firm. Public Accounting firms, like ours, have staff year-round to answer your questions and understand your entire tax situation, unlike many of the seasonal tax preparation services.

Let’s say you decide to try tax preparation through Associates in Accounting. Now what?

    1. Compile your tax data. This includes income statements and expenses. For a full list of possible documents, contact us for a free tax organizer.
      1. Make note of any life changes from the past year. Did you move, have a baby, get married or divorced, watched all seasons of Stranger Things on Netflix? (Kidding about one of those) We need to know!
      2. Be sure you sign and include your Engagement Letter and Schedule of Services back to our office. We cannot begin preparation without these signed documents.
    2. Send that data to our office. It does not matter how the data is compiled, just be sure to send as much as you can and clearly label it as tax data. Any additional documents that are on hold for any reason can be sent later. An appointment with our office is not necessary to prepare your tax returns. You also can pre-pay for your return at this time. There are two ways to send us all your tax information:
      1. Hard Copies can be mailed to our office or dropped off in person any time during office hours.
      2. Digital Copies (easiest method) can be uploaded to your client portal through our website or emailed to [email protected]
    3. Wait while your tax return is prepared. Once we receive your information, we will start preparing your return. This is a streamlined process through our office. The time that it takes varies depending on the time in which we receive the data. The general rule is: the earlier, the better.
    4. Pay and receive your prepared returns. When our team of accountants has finished your tax return, you will receive a call from our lovely administrative team letting you know that your returns are finished. This does not mean the returns have been filed, just prepared. Once you have paid for your tax preparation, you will receive your tax return in one of two ways, as indicated on your Schedule of Services.
      1. Paper – You will receive hard copies of all returns for your records
      2. Portal – you will receive digital copies of all returns for your records through your portal on our website.
    5. Read your client letter and file your returns (or send e-file authorization to us). This is perhaps THE most important, yet forgotten step. When you receive your prepared returns, read the client letter in the front. For various reasons with the government, some returns are filed electronically through the government, and some are required to be signed and mailed in the old-fashioned way. This will be outlined in your letter. You will need to either sign and mail tax returns to the government, or sign and send your electronic-file authorization form to us to allow us to e-file any returns that are eligible for electronic filing. Only at this point will your return be filed for the year.

Think of all the ways that you will spend your time next year by letting the pros take care of your taxes!

We know that taxes can be intimidating and a bit daunting to some. This is normal. We are here to help! The more that you help follow our process as outlined above, the quicker we will be able to deliver a prepared tax return to you! We’re looking forward to this tax season. It’s kind if like our super bowl. If you have any questions at all about this process, please let us know!