Tips to make tax time run more smoothly

By Ying Sa / Guest Column


At Community CPA & Associates, we are in the mist of the tax filing rush. Recently in the Iowa City office, we rescued a guy who was holding three large shoe boxes stacked together. As he squeezed through the front door, he yelled, “Help, help, these are my receipts!”

Is there a good way to be organized for tax filing? The answer is yes. The above-mentioned client receives a thumbs-up for organization. He had three boxes – one with cash expenditure receipts, one with credit card receipts and the third box with all the deposit slips. Because these boxes were so well organized, it didn’t take us very long to get each box’s messy receipts in order.

We would rather our clients come in with shoe boxes than not come in at all because the shoe boxes didn’t even exist. Tip number one during tax time is: organize the way you want, but be sure to organize your documents.

Our clients are really sweet people who contact us throughout the year whenever there is an issue. As a professional firm, we do not want folks to call to chat for no good reason. But if someone calls about their recent divorce, we would comfort them, and at the same time document the divorce matter in their file. When tax season arrives, if we knew the client was divorced within the past year, we would ask if she received any alimony.

We believe CPAs and accountants are caregivers and should be attentive to their clients’ needs. The second tip is: find a professional firm that you can pick up the phone and talk to without feeling awkward, and continue to build that relationship.

Everything in life is related to money, which is in turn related to taxes. You need to realize that taxes are part of life and cannot be dismissed. Just like you want to give your best to your children, you want to be consistent with your taxes. The taxes you pay go toward improvements and maintenance of many vital services throughout the country. You should be proud to make your tax payment as you have worked hard for your income and have contributed to the community. The third tax tip is: a positive mindset toward paying taxes will make life easier and more enjoyable.

Even though you have a strong habit of keeping records, a good professional to work with and a positive attitude, what happens when you get a letter from IRS saying that you are being audited? Be sure to read the letter from head to toe and front to back. Do not be afraid. Fight the sensation to ignore the letter, and your organized records to your CPA office. Go ahead and vent to your CPA if that helps to regain a positive attitude. If you don’t agree with the auditor’s findings, contact the IRS Office of Appeals. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may have to go IRS tax court. So, last but not least: stay calm and read letters from the IRS.

Ying Sa is the founder and principal Certified Public Accountant at Community CPA & Associates Inc. with offices in Iowa City and Des Moines.