Discussion:Tax organizer!!!!!!!!WHAT UP

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Discussion Forum Index --> Business Growth Community --> Tax organizer!!!!!!!!WHAT UP


Www.cpa1.biz (talk|edits) said:

13 May 2006
Hey Almanacers,

Do you all custom make your organizer or does your program come with one? Also, after you get the organizer from your client, do you ever talk to your clients and if you do how many times do you usually need to contact them and by what means (PHONE AND/OR EMAIL) before the return is done. I mean isn't it hard for these people to talk to you because they are way busy.

I wonder how H&R Block does it....

Thanks you all. I hope everyone is well.

www.cpa1.biz

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

May 13, 2006
Brian, most tax software packages come with organizers. In addition, you might want to consider joining the tax section of the AICPA. They have checklists and organizers available as well.


As far as contacting people, I think you really need to follow your clients' leads. Some people prefer email, some phone and some face-to-face communication.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

13 May 2006
Make my own. Two pages only. Most organizers that the software produces..I could not in good conscience have the client fill all that in and then charge for a return. If they can do that much work, they may as well do the return. Some clients I've never met, most of them mail or drop off their paperwork to me, and I'll contact them one way or another before wrapping up. Most of mine have been with me a while, tho'. New folks, we'll usually meet once...

Www.cpa1.biz (talk|edits) said:

13 May 2006
JR1,

I like that you condensed your organizer. Could you please email me it so I can use it and revise it for my clients in Virginia? My email is bjwendroff@wendroffcpa.com.

Also, how many times do you actually speak to these clients before wrapping up the final product. On an average...

Natalie. Do you advise that I become of member of that tax advisor from AICPA. It cost $165.00 a year. Is that worth it as I am a young professional just opening up my firm.

Thanks a lot,

www.cpa1.biz

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

May 13, 2006
Personally I find it worth the $135 or $165 per year to be a member of the tax section of the AICPA. I feel very comfortable using the checklists, engagement letter templates and other resources they provide simply because they come from the AICPA. You might be able to piece together these resources from other places, but it takes time to do that. And, when you do that, you may not get updated information. When you are a member of the tax section, updated information is available on the website.


As far as the organizers go, some of them are very long. For new clients I usually print them to a pdf file and then delete the pages that don't apply. Most of my clients use the organizers as a memory jogger for what they need to provide to me.

DZCPA (talk|edits) said:

13 May 2006
I use Lacerte full organizer. It has last years number included to help client fill in info. They will fill in or attach docs to relevent pages. My clients like to fill in most areas as they feel the return is complete. They have no problem being charged for their returns even with their efforts. Of course, some will never fill in even a 2 to 5 page organizer. Charge them accordingly.

Rruth (talk|edits) said:

16 May 2006
I also use Lacerte full organizer, as I did not like the condensed version. And I think the clients that use it like the prior year figures to go off. Others don't even open it up, but I use it during either the interview, or in lieu of input sheets. I often have calculations just relating to that return, and annually look back to last year to see how it was done. Saves me a lot of time re-figuring how it was done before.

Lalva (talk|edits) said:

16 May 2006
Www.cpa1.biz you are curious about how HR Block does it...I can tell you. They don't. The clients go to the office with whatever tax forms they have and sit down. You ask them questions and if they don't have all the info they have to come back another day.

Lalva (talk|edits) said:

16 May 2006
Also I order some organizers to compare and see which one I like best. Like JR1, I also don't like to ask my clients to fill out 5 or 6 pages of info especially if they bring the tax form. I am thinking about making my own.

Warren (talk|edits) said:

16 May 2006
I also use Lacerte's full organizer. The fact that it has last year's numbers on it generally makes it fairly easy for the client to complete. About 75% of client's complete the organizer and the other 25% just drop off tax info. If I gave my client's a two page organizer without prior year numbers I think that most of them would find it more difficult than a 15+ page organizer with prior year figures.

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

9 September 2006
I don't use organizers. I find that they create a lot of ill will. Clients who do try to fill them out do them incorrectly. Others say "If I'm going to do all this work, what do I need you for?" I prefer to get the actual documents then I know the numbers are right. I do ask some questions though such as did you purchase a large item such as a car or boat.

DZCPA (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
Bottom, Most very successful preparers use organizers. Give it a try and encourage them to mail it in with any documents which are not clear to clients. Your profit margin will go up!!

Bengoshi (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
Ultratax's organizer is a bit complex for most clients, and I don't like the questions that are asked. But the prior year's information helps those who complete the organizer. I'd always send clients some type of organizer rather than nothing even if they never fill it out, because it's a good client retention tool. Sort of like the reminders that dentists always send.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
To each his own! 80%-85% of returns I do are 'mail-ins.' And many are getting away from the actual mailing. More clients turn to email attachments, or straight email, or the fax to send information, though Fedex makes almost a daily stop at my house. If I need additional information or have questions, answers come from emails and telephone calls. Some of my appointments are conducted on the phone after their data is entered and a pdf copy sent. Of 500+ clients, over half have been with me prior to 1990. I used to interview in Philadelphia from 10am until 8pm, 6 days a week. Now I go there 8 days a tax season. My first move away from my client base was to Columbia County, NY in 1998 and then after my wife died, to Ocean County NJ. Through it all 85% of clientele stayed with me. I send out a year end letter announcing Philadelphia dates. I enclose a detailed "How to Help Me Prepare Your Taxes!" This letter emphasizes being on the alert for envelopes marked "Important Tax Information" and encourages clients to draw up lists. There is a section detailing the biggest bugaboo, stock sales, where clients often think a brokerage statements gives them everything I need to know. I have always found that my best and most lucrative clients love to put their own information together, rather than follow a format. It helps that I have had the same person since 1997 doing some of the data-entering; I do the rest myself or with help of my fiancee.

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
Similar to Death&Taxes, virtually all my returns are mail-ins, faxes or drop offs. The clients that have stock sales have given me permission to contact their broker if the information is not included in the 1099 packet (sometimes it is). I'm fortunate - I can't remember the last time I lost a tax client although I have fired a few!

John of PA (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
Another hand here for the Lacerte organizer. I use it, and it is actually my main quality control sheet for the return. I use one, even for the returns where the client does not fill one out. I write notes in the margin, etc. It's great. I just use the default organizer printout becasue it too time consuming to get into eding the organizer. but I do wish the organizer had the question: "did you buy a car during the year" for the sales tax deduction. I keep forgeting to ask the client, then have to call them and it holds up the return.

DZCPA (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
John, Lacerte does ask the question on its organizer for the 2005 returns about car purchase. They do thou have a typo showing year as 2004. I ask clients about car if DMV car fees are higher than prior year. I ask the client to call their broker for all related stock info. Saves me lots of time. They do not pay me to gather records. They would rather have me spend time on figuring ways to save them money.

John of PA (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
DZ, The Lacerte default oganizer has 4 pages. Where do you see a question about buying a new car? Maby I misssed it.

Michaelstar (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
John - There are three pages of "miscellaneous questions" in the full organizer and it is on the second page under "itemized deductions". I also use the tax org from Lacerte. I use the full organizor and mail these to every client on 12/31 of every year (along with the privacy letter). Some fill them in completely, some do the best that they can and others never send them back. I use them as lead sheets for EVERY client. If the clients do not send them back, I print out a new one and go from there. Every clients file is organized in the exact same. All tax w/p's are number referenced just like accounting w/p's would be for an accounting compilation. I also use a tax return reconcilation summary set of w/p's (2 pages) and confirm what I expect my taxable income should be before I compare this to what the tax program tells me it is. I have many clients that can have 50-100 pages of tax workpapers and I believe they need to be organized and reconciled. This method also assists me in my mind from making those errors that all of us hate to make. Also, when a client comes back with a question, it only takes seconds for me to find the exact w/p and provide the answer.

Sea-tax (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
I also use the lacerte organizer similar to John of PA. But I do specialize it for my clients. I make up a couple of more questions and at the very least in the interview I ask the clinet those questions if they have not answered them . This is a little CYA here. Like one of the questions I ask is "have you taken a distribution from a 401k,IRA or other retirement plan?" If the client says no and really did and signs the organizer then I can show them when they complain about being charged for an ammended return. i say look you told me you didn't but you really did and how am I going to know if you don't tell me.

John of PA (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
Michaelstar, My default Lacerte organizer has 4 pages of questions, though the 4th pages is all related to Katrina. The only question I see on the 2nd page re: auto is "did you use your car on the job". I do not see any question that ask if a new car was purchased (which we may need to know for the sales tax deduction). Thanks to all for your reply.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
I am glad you brought this topic up. Does anyone know if there are organziers available for S. Corp. or LLC returns? I am running into business clients who tell me that they "can handle their accounting, but need someone to do their taxes." [I know it's difficult to keep a straight face when clients tell you this, but I'm hearing it]. I suppose it's possible that some would have qualified in-house staff. What I don't understand is that I've met practitioners that tell me that they get questionaires from all clients, and I know they do business returns besides just a Sched. C. I have been dying to ask, how are they doing this? I mean you have basis issues, depreciation issues etc etc. I understand that even if you get a signed questionaire, the practitioner may still have a duty to investigate in some cases.

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