Had to dessert my blog for a while. I work in a tax office so January through April is pretty sporadic as far as a normal schedule goes. Work gets in the way of life: time wise, energy wise, patience wise. Sometimes you just want to come home to a sofa, a snack and a screen. I thought I would re-open my blog with some income tax preparation tips.
1. April 15th is every year. Along with death, you cannot avoid paying taxes. Don't procrastinate.
2. Think about your taxes year round. Our office is open year round to assist you with questions. If there is any change in your income, call us. Consider withholding more. Don't spend all it on a Corvette. There will be tax consequences. See tip number one.
3. If it is days before the 15th, we are going to have to file an extension for you. Last minute on your part does not mean we can work faster to make the deadline. But don't worry, we will still do your return for you. If you are worried about penalties, send in a payment to the IRS and the state. Any amount helps and remember, the interest on taxes owed is far less than on a credit card or other loan. If you are still worried, see tip number one.
4. Please give us a working phone number. We send you an organizer at the beginning of the year. Please fill it out. Things change fast these days. Many of us, myself included, have disconnected our home phones and gone completely cellular. You may have done that on April 16th of last year so when you come in this year, it isn't a new phone number to you, but it is to us. Learn how to retrieve your messages and check them!
5. Income tax preparation is a service. We don't make the rules so don't get mad at us if you owe. We answer to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board as well. We don't work for the IRS or the states. We follow their rules and they don't answer any of our questions as to "why'.
6. Income tax preparation is a service. A paid service. Please be prepared to pay when you pick up your returns. We will not electronically file them if you don't. We can't wait for your refund to arrive to take it out of there. You are not entitled to first class service, a private appointment with no waiting, attention to detail and tax saving advice for free. We also have awesome candy and drinks. Try a VITA office if free is what you can afford. VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. They are usually for low-income people and those who end up not having to file. Be prepared to pay with your time by waiting in line and have the work take longer. Tip number one applies to their offices as well.
7. We don't have forms. Don't call us on April 15th looking for free forms that you can have. Most tax returns need to be filed electronically these days. Even if they don't, the work is still done via computer, not paper forms that you fill out. See tip number one.
Have a happy and prosperous new year!