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Top 10 Tax Resources for the 2015 Tax Season

10 tax tipsA mother tries to get her son out of bed in the morning to go to school, and says, "Come on, lazy head, get up. You're going to be late.” But he remained in bed, burrowing deeper under the covers. Finally, she pulled him out, and he said, "Mommy, I can't go to school. The kids throw sticks and stones at me, and they call me names." "But you have to go anyway," she said.  "Why?" he asked. "First of all," she said, "you're 50 years old. And, second, you're the principal."

Your clients hopefully don’t throw sticks at you, but you are the CPA and like the principal, you need to show up, right?  So fight the urge to burrow - listed below are some popular tools from the AICPA to help you.

(By the way, credit for that joke goes to former NBC president Michael Gartner, who included it in an excellent speech on the 10 Rules for Life at my college commencement. Good luck prying that date out of me.)

1. Client communication materials – the Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit is your one-stop shop for communication resources. Download a tax law brochure, tweets, mini tax articles and other tools, such as the Affordable Care Act FAQs for Individuals to reinforce your value to current and prospective clients. 

2. Tax resource page – Find useful resources and products like the AICPA checklists (free for Tax Section), and identity theft information and tips. Also check out the Journal of Accountancy Quick Guide, a handy summary of tax rates, exemptions, credits and retirement plan limits.  

3. Affordable Care Act information – Get answers to questions both you and your clients have on the health care reform law at the Health Care Reform Resources Center. In addition, this detailed Tax Adviser article discusses where the IRS has said it will focus its efforts to ensure taxpayers comply this tax season.

4. Managing Client Expectations – Extensions and Misconceptions (webcast) – Normally reserved for Tax Section members, this Tax Power Hour has been opened for all AICPA members. It reviews common myths surrounding extensions and includes a discussion on different approaches you can take to respond to client concerns. Also download this 2-pager  from the Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit to help clients understand what an extension is and debunk any fears.

5. Professional standards – Refresh your memory on CPAs’ obligations for standards that need to be followed when preparing returns with the Statements on Standards for Tax Services #3. Also, read this helpful summary of the rules to follow if you spot an error in a previously filed return.

6. Tangible property tools – Review this summary chart for the highlights and get more information and tools at the dedicated web page

7. Liability protection – You may enjoy the challenges of preparing returns, and offering tax advice can be rewarding, but worrying about a lawsuit? Not so much.  Brush up on ways to protect yourself against certain risks when using software.  Also be aware of tax issues when responding to third-party verification requests (sometimes referred to as comfort letters).

8. IRS Hotlines Quick Reference Chart – Save yourself a little time by avoiding the entire “press 6 to hear…” and get to the option you need.  This list also includes numbers for dedicated lines such as international tax, Form 706, installment agreements, etc… And if you are a Tax Section member, review these FAQs for Contacting the IRS. These and other tools can be found on the Tax Section’s IRS Procedure & Tax Administration page. 

9. Future opportunities for your practice – Thinking past the next pot of coffee is tough but tax season is a client intensive period so take full advantage. Keep this checklist (provided by AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning Section) to spot financial planning needs when preparing a tax return and these tips for promoting additional services.

10. Fun or useful things to do while you are on hold:

And remember, Eleanor Roosevelt was right, this too shall pass! 

Ann Marie Maloney, Communications Manager - Tax, American Institute of CPAs.

Ten image via Shutterstock

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