By Kortney Christensen, CFP®, Executive Vice President, Director of Sales and Marketing

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Has your tax return gotten just too complicated to handle on your own? Or maybe you just don’t have the time to fill out all those forms. If you’ve decided to hire a tax pro, start the tax season off right by working effectively with your tax preparer. By proactively asking a few questions, you can ensure you are maximizing the relationship and getting the best advice possible.

  1. What documents should I bring? You may know the usual forms (W-2, 1099, etc.), but there may have been a change in the tax requirements or your situation where you’ll need additional documentation. Keep your tax preparer updated with any changes in your personal circumstances such as a new home, job, new baby, marriage or divorce. These and other circumstances can affect your tax situation and may require you to provide additional information.
  2. When can I review my return and how will you communicate with me?  It is important to make sure you feel comfortable with the data on your return as you are legally responsible for that information. Determine if the tax professional will call you or communicate via e-mail so you don’t miss anything important and can respond to issues in a timely way.
  3. Do you e-file? This ensures that your tax return gets processed more quickly and you will get your refund faster.
  4. When will you file my return?  Some tax preparers don’t file until the last minute—no matter how soon you get them your documents. Other tax professionals may suggest extending your return filing date. By asking this question, you avoid a miscommunication where you are expecting a quick refund while they are swamped or awaiting additional information and not able to file until mid-April or beyond.
  5. How are you protecting my information?  Many of us have been victims of identity theft and are motivated to do all we can to prevent it from happening again. Ask questions such as “how is my personal information stored?” “How robust is your security software?”
  6. Are you available outside of tax season?  If you receive correspondence from the IRS or need to amend a previous return, confirm you have assistance no matter what time of year it is.
  7. What about next year? Now that your tax pro has reviewed your tax situation, are there tax strategies and suggestions to help reduce your 2018 tax bill? This is especially critical given the recent changes from the 2018 Tax Act. Getting ideas early in the year will make it easier to consider and implement before year-end. Ask if your tax preparer will work with other professionals such as your attorney and financial advisor to make certain all of your planning and goals are taken into consideration.

Tax season can be a headache, but developing a good relationship with an experienced tax preparer can help make it as painless as possible.

Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. does not provide tax advice, therefore it is also important to consult with your tax professional for additional guidance tailored to your specific situation.