Best Practices to Prepare your Tax Return

We will do our best to give you outstanding service, and if you keep these guidelines in mind, you will help us to do our best work for you. Keep...


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We will do our best to give you outstanding service, and if you keep these guidelines in mind, you will help us to do our best work for you.

  1. Keep your documents organized throughout the year. We recommend that you have a designated file to store all your tax-related documents as they come in during the year.  Increasingly, our clients are scanning their tax documents and maintaining an electronic tax file. Either way, doing it throughout the year is always easier than waiting until the tax season.
  2. Keep the originals, send us copies. Please submit documentation only once. If possible, provide us with copies (or PDFs) of your tax documents rather than originals.  And if you are sending us electronic documents, please send them in a PDF file format rather than as photos taken on your smartphone.  Photos of your tax documents are often difficult to read and require extra time to convert to a usable format. If you’d like to use your phone, we recommend using an app called Microsoft Lens which will allow you to convert your photos to PDF’s. Documents must be scanned in black and white only.
  3. Use the organizer. This year we are using a new delivery and uploading service called Safe Send. Please upload all your personal tax documents to Safe Send. You do not need to password protect your documents. Do not use any characters when saving your documents, as this makes it impossible for us to download. We email these organizers in January which are pre-filled with your tax information from the previous year. While it is not necessary to fill out the organizer in detail, it is a good idea to use it as a guide for what documents we will be looking for. Blank organizers found here.
  4. If you’re dropping documentation off for your accountant, for document clarity, please separate in labeled piles all personal documentation and all business documentation by entity. You do not need to make an appointment for drop off. Our admin staff is happy to take your documentation at the front desk.
  5. If you have additional documentation for your 1040 return or any documentation for your business (es), download all information to our safe and secure portal Share Safe here. You do not need to password protect your documents. Be sure to separate your documents into personal and business(es) if applicable.
  6. If you’d like to fax, fax all documentation to 503-362-9186 at any hour. Be sure to separate your documents into personal and business(es) if applicable.
  7. We do not require receipts. Receipts may be necessary in the event of an IRS audit, but in most cases, we do not require any receipts to prepare your tax return. Please provide your deductible expenses in a spreadsheet or some other organized format. This will keep your fees lower and allow your tax preparer to focus on providing tax advice and other value-added services.
  8. Bring in your documents at one time. To the extent possible, please transmit or bring us your tax documents all at once rather than as you receive them. We do realize that in some cases you might have a few outstanding items that may not be available until later.  If that is the case, simply get us what you have and let us know which items are outstanding and when you might expect to receive them.
  9. Bring us your tax information as early as possible. If you have your information ready, get your documents to us right away. Once we have your information, this puts you in our queue so we can quickly begin the tax preparation process. We also appreciate the opportunity to complete tax returns early in the season.  If you wait until the last few weeks of the tax season, we may not be able to complete your tax return without going on extension.
  10. Appointments may be limited as deadlines approach. Keep in mind that availability for face to face appointments becomes increasingly limited. If no appointments are available, simply drop off or upload your tax documents and we will contact you with our questions.  You may consider requesting an appointment for after-tax season if you wish to discuss your tax situation further.
  11. Designate a primary contact for correspondence with your accountant and please let us know how best to reach you (phone, email, text).
  12. Complete the questionnaire that accompanies your organizer. This helps us better understand your situation and allows us to identify any issues that may need to be addressed to complete your return. You can access an electronic version of the questionnaire here.
  13. Provide a narrative if necessary. It is sometimes helpful to provide a narrative explaining your overall situation. This is particularly helpful when something about your tax situation has changed.
  14. Review your tax return. We do our best to prepare an accurate and complete tax return from the information you provide, but we still ask that you review your tax return carefully. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure everything is reported correctly. If you do see an issue or have a question, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will address it immediately.
  15. Make your tax payments to the IRS and other applicable taxing agencies. If you have a balance due, we will provide instructions on how to make your payment to the IRS, which you will need to take care of on your own. If you are required to make quarterly estimated tax payments, we will provide vouchers and instructions for payment.
  16. Don’t shoot the messenger. No one likes a surprise tax bill, so if that happens to you, please keep in mind that we have already done everything we can within the law to minimize your tax liability. We will be happy to work with you to reduce the chances of any surprises going forward during our tax planning meetings that begin in September. If you’d like to be on the calendar now, email or call 503-362-9152.

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