Top 10 Tax Resources for the 2016 Tax Season
Have you “lost” that shiny new FitBit, depleted the family inventory of holiday goodies and now scrambled through the house trying to dig out Aunt Lucy’s famous fruitcake? Rather than investing $2,500 in a standing desk with a treadmill, it may be time to consider a new resolution!
A more practical choice may be to make a commitment that will yield positive results for the next few months. Commit to your staff, your clients, your tax practice and your professional goals during the upcoming tax season. The AICPA wants to help you jumpstart that success by pointing out useful tools to ensure you flex your tax season muscles.
- Tax season resource page – Add this page to your browser bookmarks now for quick access to up-to-date tax season information, Find the newest tax resources as they roll out, as well as core products such as the AICPA checklists (free for Tax Section). Also, check out the Journal of Accountancy Quick Guide, a handy summary of tax rates, exemptions, credits and retirement plan limits.
- 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. Additionally, brochures such as ACA FAQs for Individuals, Applicable Large Employer fact sheet and Small Business FAQs can help explain important facts to clients so they can stay in compliance.
- Identity theft prevention and recovery resources – Learn more about what you can do as a practitioner to advise clients on this troubling epidemic and learn how you can enhance your prevention measures. Help clients restore their confidence (and identity) with the ID Theft Checklist: Action Steps to Recovery.
- Client retention and acquisition materials – Download tweets, talking points and Event-in-a-Box (a checklist for presentation logistics) from the Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit to reinforce your value to current and prospective clients. Also, download this 2-pager to help clients understand why a tax extension may not be a bad idea.
- Staff motivation tools – Need ideas for keeping everyone on board when the hours are long? Listen to this Tax Power Hour (open through March 31 for all AICPA members) or just review the slides.
- Ethics guides and professional standards – Download free guides from the AICPA’s Tax Ethics and Professional Standards page to help you navigate the rules and requirements for due diligence, conflicts of interest and client privilege. If you don’t know why you should read these guides, then you absolutely must read them! Protect yourself with this knowledge specific to tax engagements or visit the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct, which is now online and searchable.
- Penalty abatement information – Practitioners wanting a quick breakdown on using the IRS's first-time penalty abatement waiver from certain penalties can get information from this new resource page from the Tax Division. A template to request abatement for clients is available for Tax Section members.
- 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. These and other tools can be found on the AICPA’s IRS Procedure & Tax Administration page.
- Personal Financial Outlook Checklist – Include this questionnaire in your organizers as a starting point to determine a client’s goals and their investment, insurance, or estate situation to identify important opportunities for financial planning services; use these tips for promoting additional services.
- Fun or useful things to do while you are on hold with the IRS:
- Productive activities like catching up on tax news and analysis with the AICPA Tax Insider and Journal of Accountancy. For more ideas, see the AICPA’s 10 Useful Things to Do; or
- Goofy endeavors like making a candle out of crayons or drawing mustaches on all the people you didn't know in your middle school yearbook. You need some fun, right?
Ann Marie Maloney, Communications Manager-Tax, American Institute of CPAs.
Cari Weston, CPA, CGMA, Director-Taxation, American Institute of CPAs.
Words of encouragement courtesy of Shutterstock.