Hiring a Tax Preparer? Don’t Proceed Without Asking These 7 Questions First

Navigating the complex world of tax filing is a major challenge for small businesses. With so many obligations, many business owners choose to hire a tax preparer to file for them.

However, it is important you choose your tax preparer wisely. Your preparer will gain access to very sensitive information about your business and its finances. You need to make sure you are only working with highly-experienced and competent professionals.

These 7 questions will help you determine if your tax preparer is legitimate and effective and ensure you receive nothing but the highest level of service.

For more information on accounting and tax specialists visit: https://www.gudorftaxgroup.com/services/payroll-services/

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What is Your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?

The first question you need the answer to should be “is this person legitimate?” Well, asking for their PTIN number is doing just that.

Any professional who prepares tax returns should be accredited by the IRS. This means they will have a valid PTIN number. You can check the official IRS PTIN registry here and confirm your tax preparer has a valid PTIN number and is legally allowed to file someone else’s tax returns.

What Experience do You Have with Similar Tax Situations?

Your tax situation is unique to you. For someone that has not dealt with a similar situation before it could be a lot of work. Find out what similar tax cases your preparer has handled in the past and their previous tax-filing experience.

What Qualifications do you Have?

While formal training isn’t essential for becoming a tax preparer, the best ones have some qualifications and professional education. Look for those with a certified public accountant (CPA) qualification, a certified financial planner (CFP) qualification, or those who have completed the IRS’ Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP).

Do You Belong to a Professional Association?

Most professional associations require the preparer to behave in accordance with the group’s code of conduct and set of ethics. If they are linked to a professional association, it could be an indication that they work to the very best standards of practice.

What Records and Documents Will you Need from Me?

Any reputable tax preparer will ask you to provide documents which detail a thorough record of your income and expenses. They should also be able to effectively explain what special schedules and tax circumstances you could qualify for, as well as the requirements for those.

If your planner doesn’t mention any special circumstances or ask any questions regarding your current circumstances to determine what you may qualify for, it could be a red flag that they are not willing to do work required to secure you the best tax rate.

Can You File My Returns Electronically?

Not all preparers are authorized to file electronically. However, it is in your interests to find one that can. It saves time on acceptance and allows you to secure your refund (if you are deemed to deserve one) far faster than through paper returns. The IRS website has a database of all the preparers authorized to file electronically. You can check to see if your preparer is listed there.

How do You Determine Your Fees?

Before you can proceed, you need to know the fee structure. Most preparers charge by the hour but should be able to give a rough estimate of how much the total project will cost.

Are You Doing Everything You Can To Save Tax?

Are You Doing Everything You Can To Save Tax?

It’s said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Although it’s true that everyone can expect to pay taxes in some form or another during their lifetimes, within the framework of our tax system, there still are a lot of uncertainties. For example, depending on how you crunch the numbers, the average federal tax paid by an American household is either about $9,600 or about $14,600. There’s a lot of variance among tax filings. Yours may be significantly different, depending on the steps you take when filing. Many Americans file their taxes without taking all of the deductions and credits to which they are entitled. As a result, they may pay much more than necessary. Read on to discover ways in which you could save tax.

Everyone’s situation is unique. With the recent tax reform bill that was just signed into law, the tax structure is much different today than it was a year ago. That means, it’s extremely important for individuals filing taxes to seek expert advice from experienced and knowledgeable tax professionals in their area. In general, however, there are many details that the average taxpayer may not remember to do when filing his or her taxes that may result in lower tax bills or larger refunds.

For example, most American taxpayers don’t claim all possible exemptions and credits. These may include child-related tax credits. Other actions that could have a positive impact on your tax bill include participating in a flex spending account, planning for retirement savings or participating in education savings plans. Simply by remembering to look for these items and including them in your tax return filing, you could save yourself a significant amount of money. When preparing your tax return for 2018, remember these and other tips and strategies for reducing your tax burden found in the checklist below. Combined with expert advice from seasoned tax professionals, your next tax return may be much less painful than last year’s. Paying taxes may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do all you can to save the most money the next time you pay.

 

SOURCES

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BfUAGC9GL78nCvbpNjc6cVakazG5lEqB/preview

https://www.fool.com/taxes/2017/03/14/how-much-does-the-average-american-pay-in-taxes.aspx

 


Tax Savings Guide by Mowery and Schoenfeld

Dodge These Family Financial Pitfalls, And Learn How To Climb Out If You Do Fall In!

When you have a family to take care of financially, you will want to do your best to avoid any pitfalls. However, even if you do take a tumble, there are ways of getting out again. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Buying a house that is too expensive

One the biggest problems I see families getting into is buying a property to live in that is far too costly to afford comfortably. This is because it’s all too easy to buy into the dream of getting that perfect home or forever house, no matter what the cost.  

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However, when you have a family to take care of, there are other costs to include in your budget, not just your rent or mortgage. Unfortunately, when these take up most of your earnings it leaves very little left for other essential things like clothes, bills, and transport, and even less to pay for fun family times and making memories together.

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I’m, not saying that your home it’s unimportant it, is. As it’s the base that keeps you safe and allows you to raise your family, but it’s all about balance. So, if you find yourself in a home that is a drain on your finances, it may be time to consider moving to something more reasonable. As all you are doing is taking money away from others areas of your life, often the ones that are vital to its overall quality.  

Not getting your taxes right

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Tax, the dreaded task most of us have to do! The problem is that when you are busy, and you have a family to care for it can be pretty easy to put it off, or not be as accurate as you might if you were sitting in an office at work doing your return. However, not giving your tax return the proper attention is a big mistake, because not only can it cost you a fortune in unpaid taxes and fees, in some cases, you can actually get in trouble with the law as well. Something you will want to do your darnedest to avoid, especially if you have a family depending on you.

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So to avoid falling into this hole in the first place it best to keep excellent records including receipts, invoices, and notes on anything that is tax deductible. Then when you have to file your return, it will be a lot easy to make sense of everything.

If you have a problem with your return once you have filled it, don’t panic. Instead, schedule a free tax consultation with Joe Callahan, or another specialist and get them to help you assess the situation. Remember just because the IRS is making a case against you, doesn’t mean that they will win. So get as much information and help as you can to build your side of the case and give yourself a good chance of success.

Forgetting To Save For A Rainy Day

Rainy days, they do happen, and that is something we should all be aware of. That is why is so important to have something tucked away just in case it’s needed. After all, it’s unlikely you will foresee every problem that you come across in life!  

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To prepare for this, it can be useful to put away a certain amount each month into a saving account. This keeps it separate and also allows you to earn interest on your money, so it’s working harder for you.

Of course, you may get caught down this particular financial hole, without having an emergency fund to fall back on. In this case, to get out, you will need to find the money elsewhere. To do this, try selling something of value that you own like a piece of jewelry, some IT equipment, or a musical instrument. Another option is to take out a loan either from a bank, or payday lender if you only need the cash for a short amount of time.

Lastly, one of the cleverest ways of getting yourself out of this particular hole is by taking out a 0% credit card. This allows you access to the money that you need, while also ensuring you don’t actually have to pay back more than you borrowed, as you do with most other loans. Although it is worth mentioning that the 0% interest rates on most credit cards only last for a certain amount of time and usually don’t apply to cash withdrawal, only actual shopping purchases. Meaning they will only be suitable for some situations.

Avoiding Financial Mishaps With These Solid Tips

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When it comes to managing your financial affairs, if you’re not well versed in the matters of moving money around, things can get complicated. Not only do you have plenty to contend with in terms of budgeting, investing and saving, but also the less commonly found responsibilities you have can sometimes trip up people who aren’t otherwise aware of how to proceed. Luckily, if you’re reading this blog, you’re surely in the right place to increase your financial insight and abilities. However, there are a few issues you should be aware of when it comes to handling your affairs. If you don’t follow these upcoming tips, you could find yourself in some form of trouble, and that is never positive.

Taxes

Pay your taxes. Never, ever try any variant of deception such as reporting less income than you actually make, especially if you’re a freelancer. With a little investigation, the governing body of your state and country are sure to find out about your deception, and this can land you in trouble. If you haven’t filed your tax returns out of ignorance or mis-education, these governmental bodies are sure to help you out if you ask them for it in a humble manner. Never get aggressive, deceptive, and always include even the smallest earnings. It’s been known that famous writers have been caught on tax evasion for failing to declare earnings from book signings or autographs. If they can be caught out, so can you. It’s something to keep in mind.

Court

If implicated in some form of court case, either prosecuting or defending, it falls upon you to work within legal parameters. If you need to, hiring a financial lawyer can help you get your affairs in order. Even if you feel you have been completely wronged by the opposing party in the legal proceedings, you must never exaggerate or try to deceive the judge regarding your claims. While a small white lie that helps your case might feel undetectable and worth trying to get away with. Being honest in court is a must, and a fail to do this can lead to being implicated in perjury, something that will overshadow the original legal matter you were taking care of, making it seem small in comparison. Even if you’re suing a company or business for neglect that led to a personal injury, being intimidated by the legal team of the company involved does not justify lying or exaggerating the event. Your medical records and personal injury lawyers should speak enough for themselves.

Contracts

When heading into a new job and negotiating a salary, you must be completely and totally understanding of what benefits you are entitled to, what divisions of investment you are able to make use of, and when those payment dates are. Remember, your financial world is your lifeblood to living a full and satisfied life, and if you’re unsure of what you are entitled to, ask the company for further information. You should never be in the dark about the rewards of your job, even if an employer seems deliberately cloudy about the total package they are offering.

Using good financial sense, as always, regarding both income and outcome is of major consequence here. With the right sense, you can prevent any manner of troubles headed your way.

The Financial Error’s Of The Lion King’s Mufasa

There’s much we can learn from The Lion King, Disney’s 1994 classic. It’s a tale of redemption, of overcoming all the odds against you, about fighting for peace,…and about how you should never fully trust your brother, especially if they look evil and everything they say is said with a vague threat implied. But there’s something we shouldn’t take from the film, and that is: financial advice. Yes, a whole lot of mess could have been avoided had Mufasa just been a financially responsible parent. Alas.

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Investing in Property

‘Everything the light touches is our kingdom’, and thus implied, all yours Simba. Only, Mufasa didn’t actually invest in the land he was claiming was his; he just assumed it was his. That the zebras and giraffes didn’t put up a fight will not stand in the court of law. He should have acquired a deed to the land, which would have been very profitable. Also, the hyena hideout? We see a rustic getaway away from the heat, right in the heart of safari land. Imagine what that’d go for on AirBnb….

Securing the Family’s Future

For a guy with an obviously evil brother, Mufasa sure was pretty lax about securing the family’s history. Should he have put the time into looking for selectquote insurance? Of course he should. Instead, he was thrown from the edge of a canyon to his death and his family was left with nothing. His son has to spend his entire childhood hanging out with a meerkat and warthog. All because he didn’t have five minutes to spare….

Teaching Simba about Taxes

Mufasa didn’t teach Simba about taxes because…he didn’t have the foresight to think they might be useful! As king, all he had to do was enforce taxes, even a token gesture of taxes, and he might have spared his son his later hardships with the IRS (unreleased Lion King sequel – Simba and the Jury). If kids learn about taxes when they’re young, they can avoid the same fate as Simba. They’re a natural part of life, just like the circle of life they sing about so passionately during the film.

Not Working Hard

Mufasa and his family did have a pretty idyllic life when they were all alive, as did the other animals in the kingdom. But this would have eventually cost them: because it was wildly, recklessly unsustainable. To gain financial freedom, you have to be ready to work hard while you’re in the prime of your life, saving each and every week. Doing the bare minimum needed to survive – like Mufasa – will eventually cause financial difficulties.

One Thing He Got Right

We would be unfair on Mufasa is we didn’t give him credit for the one thing he most definitely got right. By teaching Simba not to have more than this share (in the scene where he explains how everything lives in tandem), he’s telling his son to live within his means, which is what all our children should know!