Don’t Be [a] Delinquent

Shady businessman
Don’t be a delinquent like this shady guy!

Thursday is the deadline to file 2014 personal income taxes. The almost-automatic extension of the April 15th due date to October 15th is up!

Our firm is still getting calls from people wanting to know if we can do their returns for them. We are happy to talk with potential new clients and see if we can do a quick turn-around… but, really!

We, like most CPA’s, want to be comfortable that we genuinely know the client’s financial situation so that we can prepare an accurate return that results in the lowest legal tax bill.  We want to be able to look over the financial information, think, and ask questions that might uncover a deduction or better approach.  Preparing your taxes is more than just taking the information you have and retyping it into our computer screens.

It’s unlikely during a busy deadline week that any CPA can meet a potential client with a complex financial situation, review the materials, and prepare a return. Still, you have to file a return or you’ll be “delinquent”, and may be assessed significant penalties and interest.

Don’t panic! What you have to do is simple:

  1. File the best possible return you can yourself.  You’ll probably save time and angst if you use a personal computer tax program like TurboTax or a program from H&R Block.  (We don’t have a favorite or recommend an specific program.)  If you have a complex return like most of our clients, you may find yourself making estimates or best guesses at what you’re supposed to do.  Try as best as you can and make notes about the questions you had so you can go over the problem areas with a CPA later.
  2. Pay what you owe!  Niceties aside, the income tax system is meant to deliver money to the government, and that cash is really what the IRS and state care about.  For this last-minute return, don’t make aggressive decisions about deductions or other rule interpretations, You could be penalized and charged interest if the IRS decides that your optimistic assumptions don’t fly.
  3. Make an appointment NOW to see a tax professional next week to file an amended, 100% complete return.  If you made a mistake in filling out the forms and you underpaid, filing an amended return quickly will minimize penalties and interest you’ll owe.  If you overpaid, you’ll get your money back sooner.

Point 4, of course, is swear you won’t wait so long next year!  Pulling together information for your tax return can give you insight into your overall financial situation.  If you bring your financial data to a CPA when it’s not a deadline crunch moment, you can also have a conversation that may lead you to take tax-smart steps for the future.

Yes, We Are Still Welcoming New Tax Clients!

Form 1040“Are you still taking new tax clients?” is the most frequent opening line of phone calls this week.

The answer is YES, we are still setting up appointments for new clients.  In fact, most years we continue to set up new client appointments until two or three days ahead of the tax deadline (April 17th this year).

At some point, last year is was April 3rd, we will tell potential clients that we will help them estimate their taxes, submit a request for extension to file to the IRS, and prepare their taxes as soon as we can.  We may be able to complete the returns for these clients by April 17th, but we are not able to commit to it.

We start telling new clients that they may go on extension when the partners, Charles and Geoffrey, are concerned that there isn’t enough time for back and forth exchanges that are frequently part of the tax preparation process.  Often there is “just one” piece of information that a client has to provide before we can finalize a return.  Or, we discover a deduction the client may qualify for if they provide an additional piece of information. Or, we see a reoccurring expense on a previous year’s return that the client didn’t give us any information about — we need to check to see if it should be claimed this year.

We’re fortunate that we’re a big enough firm (about 15 team members) that we don’t stop talking to potential clients even when the tax deadline is very near.  Even up to the day of the deadline I’ll talk with you about what to do to put yourself on extension, and I’ll set up an appointment for you soon after April 19th.

Yes, we are/and will continue to welcome clients!