Caveat: This post is totally from my point of view. Every preparer runs their office a little differently. But it should act as a guideline as you plan for your trip to the tax preparer.
This post started as a list for my receptionist to help her field questions when people make their appointments. But I realized I need a blog post too. As you are planning your visit to the tax preparer, please let me give you some do's and don’ts to help make your visit easier for everyone.
- Make an appointment. I will take walk-in clients when I can but priority goes to appointments. My goal is that no one waits more than 5 minutes after their appointment time. I will not go over that to slip another client in ahead of them.
- Bring last year’s return if you are a new client or your preparer requests a copy. It’s good to have last year’s for comparison. I can’t explain why there is a big difference from last year if I don’t know about last year. This is especially important for a business, farm, rental or if you have carry forwards from the previous year.
- Bring in Social Security cards for everyone on the return and IDs for the Taxpayer and spouse if you are a new client. If you’re a returning client, please bring in the info if there is a new dependent or a change in the info.
- Bring in all your W-2s, 1099s and other tax info. Not sure if you’ll need it? Bring it in. This includes info on your deductions.
- Bring your glasses.
- Turn your cell phone off. Don’t take calls or text while we’re working. A tax interview requires both of us to pay attention to the return for a few minutes. Neither of us can do that if you’re talking to your BFF about what happened at work.
- Leave the kids at home. If you absolutely have to bring them, bring something for them to do. It’s not the responsibility of my receptionist or me to amuse them.
- Do call if you have to cancel your appointment or it looks like you’ll be more than a couple minutes late. Show up too late and you might find your appointment was given to someone else and you’ll have to reschedule.
- Do be quiet. You don’t have to talk through the whole interview. I can’t focus on your return if you expect me to carry on a conversation. Also, you might say something that will change the return.
- Don’t make spec appointments. I’m not looking for that type of client.
- Don’t expect me to wait while you run home for something you forgot. This is a small town but it will still take too long. It’s better to re-schedule.
- Don’t bring in your box of receipts and expect me to total them during the interview. A few receipts are okay, but plan on leaving the bags and boxes.
- When I ask about deductions, don’t ask how much you deducted last year. And don’t tell me to use last year’s figure (and by the way, the numbers aren’t on my ceiling. No, they really aren’t!)
- I hate being in the middle of your family fight. If you can’t be civil for an hour, make separate appointments. This includes using me as a threat to keep your kids in line.
Bottom line: I have great clients, mostly. But I also have others who are never prepared, on time, or are really inconsiderate. And they make the experience harder for both of us. It doesn’t affect their tax return. But, it does come into play when they want to negotiate the price or want me to do something special for them. All it takes is a little planning.