Adjust withholding
2020 W-4 .jpg
The 2020 Form W-4
The Tax Withholding Estimator helps clients perform a paycheck or pension income checkup (especially important for those many who received a smaller refund than expected or owed an unexpected tax bill last year). It’s also a good idea to ping clients who had a key life event, and remind them that if the estimator recommends a change, they can then submit a new W-4 or complete a W-4P.
Make estimated or additional tax payments
Clients with substantial non-wage income might need to be reminded to make quarterly estimated tax payments on: self-employment or investment income (“including gain from the sale, exchange or other disposition of virtual currency,” the IRS points out this year), taxable Social Security benefits and, in some instances, pension and annuity income. The last payment for 2019 is due Jan. 15.

Clients with more complex tax situations might want to know about Publication 505, “Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax,” especially if they owe Alternative Minimum Tax or have long-term capital gains or qualified dividends.
Gather documents, organize records
Folders in file drawer sorted into tax years and mortgage documents
Taxpayers should assemble a recordkeeping system — electronic or paper — that keeps important information in one place. This includes copies of filed returns and all supporting documents for at least three years: W-2s, 1099s, other income documents, records documenting all virtual currency transactions and 1095-As.

Clients should also confirm that each employer, bank or other payer (not to mention the IRS and, for legal names, the Social Security Administration) has their current mailing or email address. Tax professionals should remind clients to have all those forms before filing, to avoid delays in processing and refunds.
Renew PTINs and ITINs
Signage advertising income tax service is pictured in front of Tax Pros USA in La Grange, Kentucky, U.S., on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The deadline for filing federal income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service is Tuesday, April 15. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
A tax practice in Kentucky
Tax preparers have until Dec. 31, 2019, to renew or register for PTINs for the 2020 season. Enrolled Agents must also have a PTIN and renew it annually.

Clients with expiring ITINs can get the numbers renewed more quickly and avoid refund delays by submitting their renewal application soon. Any ITIN with middle digits 83, 84, 85, 86 or 87 expires at the end of this year. Any ITIN not used on a return in the past three years will expire. ITINs with middle digits 70 through 82 that expired in 2016, 2017 or 2018 can also be renewed. Use a W-7; it typically takes about seven weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter from the IRS, but it can take up to 11 weeks if an applicant waits until peak season to submit the form.
Update e-Services information
IRS building entrance
United States Internal Revenue Service building sign
E-Services offers the e-file app, the Transcript Delivery System and a secure mailbox. Tax professionals who are new e-Services users must first register and verify their identities. Firms that will need to use the e-Services TDS should ensure the appropriate people are approved on the application. Firms opening new offices where electronic transmissions will occur also must submit new e-file applications.
Update power of attorney/third-party authorization records
Tax pros who have existing power of attorney or third-party authorization (Forms 2848 and 8821) for clients should review those records. If the taxpayer is no longer a client, tax pros should submit revocations to end the authorization. They can follow the revocation instructions outlined in Publication 947.
Review security safeguards
All paid tax preparers, regardless of firm size, must have written information security plans as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Now also is a good time for tax professionals to hire a cybersecurity expert to review office digital safeguards. At a minimum, tax pros should perform a deep scan for viruses on all digital devices.
Review Practitioner Priority Service options
The Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) is any tax pro’s first point of contact for account-related issues. After registering, tax pros can receive account transcripts, wage and income documents, tax return transcripts and verification of non-filing letters online.
Identify the local Stakeholder Liaison
An IRS office building in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York
An IRS office in New York
The IRS has specialists nationwide who can help tax pros who suffer a security breach that affects their clients. When a data theft occurs, they should contact the local IRS Stakeholder Liaison immediately.
Use e-file and direct deposit
Combining direct deposit with e-filing is the fastest way for your client to get their refund. Nearly four out of five federal refunds are deposited directly — though remind clients not to rely on a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills.