Still no unemployment benefits, but tax concerns for jobless
IRS takes a bite out of U.S. Olympic medalists' winnings

6 steps to help you become the best tax client

Frustrated taxpayer seeking filing help_by Stephen Uber via iStockYou decided to get help from a tax professional this filing season. Let's make sure you followed all the steps.

You evaluated your tax pro options.

You thoroughly vetted the professional before you hired her.

Now comes the really important part.

Be a good -- no, be the best -- tax client.

That's right. Just because you're turning over your taxes to someone else doesn't mean you get to check out and simply await your refund.

Hiring a tax pro is just like any relationship. You get from it what you give to it.

Today's Daily Tax Tip offers six suggestions on how you can ensure that your filing season (and beyond) partnership with your tax professional is a solid and financially positive one.

1. Be prepared
You've hired a tax pro to guide you through the morass that is your tax life, but don't just dump an unorganized mess on your filing professional. You already should have some sort of organizational system in place for collecting your tax data. Also, be sure to look at the checklist your tax pro gave you. It details the data that he or she will need to file your return. Without this, your 1040 is going to get shoved aside until you provide the information.

2. Be ready to answer questions
Even when you provide every tax item you have, your tax pro is likely to have some questions. Don't ignore these calls, texts or emails. Your tax pro can only work with what you provide. If you're missing some tax material, your tax pro can help you recover it or obtain acceptable substitutes.

3. Be honest
And when it comes to those questions, tell the truth. Everything your mother always told you about honesty goes double at tax time. Attempts to hide income or fabricate receipts or other documentation can only get you in trouble with an Internal Revenue Service examiner.

Your tax pro is your first safety net against such questionable tax tactics. When he or she raises an eyebrow about a tax situation, you can be sure the IRS will, too. So 'fess up with your tax pro and let him or her help you through the sticky situation.

4. Be professional
You are no longer getting free tax advice from Aunt Jane who used to be a bookkeeper or cousin Bill who's done the whole family's taxes forever. You have entered into a professional business arrangement. Treat it that way.

Yes, your tax pro will be sympathetic like a good friend at times or scold you like a disappointed parent at others. But your tax pro, even if you know the person in other circumstances, is not your friend or family once you agree on a deal and turn over your tax material.

He or she is a professional you hired to do the best possible job with your 1040.

So listen to what your tax pro has to say. Provide the information and material necessary to complete the process. And never call your tax preparer at home or after hours unless it's a legitimate tax emergency.

5. Be open to advice
Filing your annual tax return is just part of the job provided by most tax professionals. Once they've gotten a good look at your tax situation, they likely will have advice on some changes to your tax life. Listen to what your tax pro has to say. Ask questions. Implement the suggestions. This after-filing advice can help make your future tax filings less costly and less expensive.

6. Be adult about your taxes
We know. You really, really, really, really hate filing and paying taxes. Get at the end of a very long line. But don't waste your tax professional's time whining about a law that affects you. Take his or her advice on how to comply with it and possible lessen its effects, if not this filing season maybe next year.

So don't waste your time crying on your tax pro's shoulder (re-read #4). If you must complain, tell it to your Senators and Representative. Those folks in Washington, D.C., make and change the tax laws.

Finally, remember that even when you get good professional tax advice, you are person who is signing your return. Your signature means you are ultimately responsible for what's on the forms and schedules.

So be a good tax client and work with your tax pro to make sure your 1040 is complete and correct. Your tax professional and the IRS will thank you.

Photo © Stephen Uber / Uberphotos / iStock

You also might find these items of interest:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.