This is the time, while you are thinking about taxes, to ask your tax preparer questions. Take some time when you sit down with them or add a note with your question when you send them your return. The questions can just be informative or can help you tax plan for the coming year. But if you have questions, ask them. Yes, your preparer is busy but a few minutes now can save them much more time fixing a problem later. And right now you’re looking for general info. You can always come back for specifics later. But if you put off asking your questions while you are thinking taxes, you might forget about asking until it’s too late.
What kind of tax questions should you ask?
- Retirement - if this is in the plans during the next year, your preparer can help you understand proposed changes. And don’t forget to ask about Social Security if you will start drawing it during the next year.
- Divorce or Marriage – either can play with an expected refund.
- Children - what effect could a new baby have on your taxes? Or, what happens when a child goes to college or starts working.
- Starting a business – get an overview of what records you will need to keep. You can always get more info later.
- Making a withdrawal from your 401K or IRA – if you are thinking about doing this, ask about the tax consequences. The same goes for taking a loan against your 401K.
- Credits and deductions – ask about those credits you’ve heard about on the news. Do you qualify and why/why not?
- Review your return – ask about items that didn’t come out the way you thought they should.
- Are you paying a penalty - a big balance due may trigger a penalty. Should you make estimates or change your withholding?
Ask questions so that you can stay on top of your taxes. A good preparer will try telling you about issues they see but even the best ones don’t read minds. So ask questions so we can do our job better.