As the days tick down until the end of tax season, some clients need some gentle urging to get their taxes done, or at least to file for a six-month extension.
“You’ve got to communicate early and communicate often,” said Doug Bekker, managing partner of BDO’s Grand Rapids, Mich., tax office. “Lay out to your clients that taxes are complex. There are some real opportunities out there, but they do take time for us to compute as professionals, and to work through their information. Tell your clients that by leaving things to the last minute, you’re really increasing the chances that your preparer is not going to be able to spend the time they need to do everything. It may end up resulting in some lost hours, which is not something you want to do. Make sure you’re explaining to the client that the sooner you can get your information in to us, the more opportunity we have to find you ways to save money.”
For example, he noted there were a host of tax breaks that Congress included in last December’s tax extenders legislation, the PATH Act.
“Look at the credits and extensions that they moved through to make sure you’re picking up on all of those benefits,” said Bekker. “For business tax filers, look at things like the R&D tax credit, bonus depreciation, the increase in Section 179 expensing. For the individual clients, look at what were the items that were extended, everything from the ability in states without income taxes to deduct sales tax, and deductions for teachers, etc. Make sure your clients are taking advantage of all those items.”