Setting Deadlines for Tax Documentation Submission

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Depending on your goals for growing your tax practice, streamlining your process to onboard tax clients should be one of the easiest goals to achieve.Your existing clients may not realize that there is a process that you expect them to follow. Onereason they may notknow about your process is thatyou have not set the expectations of how YOUR process of tax season should go.There are some critical aspects that your clients, both existing and new, need to understand from the beginning in order to minimize the confusion and frustrations that can be a part of this compliance-related requirement.

Below you will read a critical tip by setting document and file submission deadlines with your clients:

Business Clients:Setting deadlines for document and file submission will give you ample time to prepare an accurate tax return, rather than a rushed and possibly incorrect return.For example, your business client returns are due March 15th.Setting a deadline of February 25thwill give you a reasonable amount of time to file their return timely.If they cannot commit to that date, you will then know automatically that this client will be going on extension.In addition, if it is a flow through entity, you will be able to put the individual client(s) on extension as well.This helps with your extension inventory monitoring and planning (which will have document and file submission deadlines).

Individual Clients with Schedules:The deadlines for the clients who have businesses in a Schedule C or Schedule E, etc. should follow a stricter deadline guide than the individuals without any business-related schedules.Setting a March 15thdeadline for the documentation related to the business schedules within an individual return allows you plenty of time to meet the April 15thdeadline.

Individual Tax Clients:Setting reasonable deadlines for individuals is critical as well.Our firm chooses to use March 20thfor our individual clients to submit their tax documents for tax preparation by that date.This gives me the ability to handle extensions at that point as I would know whose information we may have and whose information we don’t have.This makes it easy to know what needs to be completed by April 15thand who will go on extension.

I believe communication is the greatest challenge when it comes to tax preparation.People are nervous about their tax situation, especially with the major changes to the tax code.Our clients do not know how to run a tax preparation firm and it is our job to help them understand the way the process needs to go.They need to understand why we put deadlines in place for document submissions. As trusted advisors, we must take every part of our process and make sure we are setting up the engagement for success.That starts with setting expectations.Stay tuned as we will continue to provide tips about effective communication techniques and preparing your clients for a successful extension season and upcoming 2019 Tax Year Season.

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Author Bio:Dawn W. Brolin is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and CEO of Powerful Accounting, LLC, a nationally recognized accounting, tax, forensic and fraud, IRS Representation as well as a QuickBooks consulting firm. Dawn’s list of professional accomplishments is extensive and includes speaking and consulting for prestigious companies. Named “Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting” 2012-2017 by CPA Practice Advisor, a “Top 10 Managing Partner Elite – Great Accounting Firm Leader” in 2017 by Accounting Today, and selected as a “Top 40 Under 40” by CPA Technology Magazine.