Do you enjoy rolling up your sleeves and getting work done around the house? A DIY project can be fun, depending on how big the project is. Adding a fresh coat of paint to a room? Sure. Fixing a massive hole in the roof? Nope! Time to hire someone.
Doing taxes on your own can be a big DIY headache—and for most people, I recommend meeting with a tax professional. You’ll save time, money and the stress of worrying if you’ve made a mistake.
But once you’ve found the right advisor—whether they’re a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Enrolled Agent (EA), or attorney—how should you prepare for your meeting with them? Here are four tips to help you maximize your time with your tax specialist.
1. Prepare Your Questions
Remember: You’re hiring this person, so take advantage of their expertise! Learn as much as you can and ask as many questions as you need to. Plan ahead and write down your questions. Here are a few examples:
- What are the new tax changes this year and how will they impact me?
- What can I do differently to improve my tax situation?
- What other services do you offer? (Your tax pro might have estate planning or legal certifications that can help you out in other ways).
Most importantly, think about your specific situation. What’s confusing to you? What’s causing you stress or anxiety? You can’t delegate your dreams, people. Trust your tax specialist, but make sure you’re still the one driving the bus.
2. Bring All the Necessary Documents
Whether you’re an organized person who loves filing systems and color-coding, or you’re just lucky to remember where you left your car keys, you’ll need some time to gather all the paperwork for your taxes. Don’t wait until the last minute and scramble around all stressed out. Set aside time to get everything together.
Give your tax professional a phone call before your meeting and ask about the documents you should have ready. Hopefully, they’ll give you a specific list. And in the meantime, here’s a Personal Tax Checklist to get you started!
Tax Prep Checklist
Getting ready for taxes? I can't help you with the math, but I can help you get organized.Download Now
3. Invest in the Relationship
Trust is the foundation for any productive, enjoyable relationship. Don’t rush into the meeting! If this is your first time meeting with your advisor, spend time getting to know them. Ask about their previous work and their approach to taxes. Even if you’ve known your tax pro for years, it’s still a good idea to take some time to connect relationally.
Okay, let’s take a time-out. It’s possible that you feel stuck getting tax help from someone who’s hard to work with, or who doesn’t do a great job. Maybe you’ve been letting crazy Uncle Eddie help you with your taxes out of a sense of family obligation. Let me lay down some truth here: You’re not stuck. Be respectfully assertive and draw some boundaries. Care enough to have an uncomfortable conversation.
I want you to work with someone who has your best interest at heart and will guide you through the process. You need to look for someone who has:
- The heart of a teacher. Pick someone who will involve you in the process and explain what’s happening as you move forward together.
- A proven track record. A good CPA, CFP, attorney, or EA can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Do your homework and make sure they know their stuff.
- Patience. Yes, there are a lot of details. Yes, it’s complicated. But the right tax specialist will take time to make sure you have all your questions answered
4. Talk About the Upcoming Year
Chances are, your tax specialist has a lot of expertise to offer throughout the year, not just during tax season! During your meeting, talk about any major life changes coming down the road. If you’re planning on doing one of the following, ask your pro how it will impact your tax situation:
- Getting married
- Having a baby
- Changing jobs
- Getting a raise
- Starting or changing a side hustle
- Making new investment decisions
- Selling or buying a home
- Making other large purchases
- Doing estate planning
Your advisor can help you stay prepared for these life changes and avoid a big surprise at tax time. Also, don’t be shy throughout the year! Ask if you can give your pro a call to consult about big changes or financial decisions.
Get a Tax Pro on Your Team
If you’re looking for someone to help you file those doggone taxes, check out our ELP tax specialist program. At Ramsey Solutions, we make sure the pro you work with has top-notch qualifications. But we don’t stop there. We only recommend people who have the heart of a teacher and a commitment to serving you.
Looking for a Tax Advisor?
Our Endorsed Local Provider service connects you with top-notch tax advisors in your area. Each provider has been vetted by our team at Ramsey Solutions because we want you to work with the best of the best!Find a Tax Pro