Ron Mutascio is a certified public accountant with a business office located at 415 Belgrade Ave., West Roxbury. He is providing tax tips - do you have a tax question that you would like him to answer? Leave a comment below this article or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Situation: When first meeting with a CPA, what should an individual bring i.e. documents, pay stubs, etc.?
Mutascio: OK, so you have decided that doing your own taxes is worse than going to the dentist and you are looking for help. Choosing a CPA to do your tax work is a great choice. In my practice, a potential client usually calls me and asks the standard questions, 'Can you do it?', 'When can you do it?' and 'How much will it cost?' Before those questions can be answered, if it is feasible, I request a meeting with the potential client. I get referrals for tax work from all over the country, so occasionally meeting face-to-face is not an option. But assuming you are local, I ask the potential client to review my website before our meeting. I believe people should have an idea of what they are buying before they go to the store. I may be more than what they need, and is makes no sense to spend my time and their money if they don’t need someone with my expertise
When they do decide to come in, I generally ask them to bring their prior two years tax returns and any tax notices they may have received in that time. I also ask them to bring in their W-2’s, last pay stub for the year, all 1099’s for interest, dividends, other income, any year end brokerage statements, investment K-1’s, Social Security year end statements and any pension income 1099’s. As to expenses, my office is not the size of Gillette Stadium, so I do not want boxes of receipts for items they believe are tax deductions. Bring the basic information: mortgage interest paid, real estate taxes paid, excise tax on your car, but summarize as much as possible medical expenses such as prescriptions, doctor and dentist bills, etc., as well as any charitable donations.
We can talk about what support you will need to have for me take these deductions once you are here. There is generally no need to rent a UHaul before you come to see me... Remember, it costs you more if I summarize your data instead of you. If there are rental properties, or the individual is self-employed, summarize the income and expenses related to these activities, or bring along the computer files on disc or thumb drive.
Unfortunately, it is very rare that someone has everything they need at this initial visit. Either the client hasn’t received it, didn’t know they needed it, or had no idea it was deductible or taxable. After the taxpayer has left, I like to go over the data and list what is missing. Once I have a better idea of what I need to finish the tax return I will call the individual with questions or tax saving ideas that arise in the preparation. Once we have both gotten over the pain of that first year return, most of my clients fill out tax organizers, custom designed with their prior year data. This generally eliminates the need for an office visit the following year, unless the client really misses me.