1. Organize your paperwork. Although each tax situation is unique, there are several similarities to each person’s tax return. Organize your slips by: income, deductions, tax credits, etc.
For example, if you are entitled to claim Employment expenses on your tax return, specifically your car, then put all your gas receipts together. Organizing by date will help you determine that you have included ALL the relevant receipts. If you only have one receipt for January and you fill up your tank weekly, you’ll know to look for three more receipts for the month.
Total the receipts using either an adding machine (with tape) or a spreadsheet. We like you to provide the spreadsheet so we can check the formulas. Many times users add a few more lines but forget to adjust the SUM calculation. The spreadsheet can be emailed or sent using Sharefile.
2. Provide complete information. Each time we revisit the file to up date or check your status, it takes time. (Remember you are charged based on time spent.)
3. Compare to the previous year and let us know what has changed. This saves us having to contact you to find out why you don’t have your Canada Saving Bond interest receipt if you cashed in your bond.
4. Only bring in valid tax slips/documents. For example, Charitable Donation receipts must be for the current or preceding 4 years. Don’t bring in receipts for 2012 – instead start a file for 2012. Check to be sure the slips are ‘official’ for tax purposes. Lottery tickets are not a tax deduction!
5. Respond promptly to requests for info; ideally, while we are still working on the file.
6. Only bring the current year paperwork. If it doesn’t have ‘2011’ on it, we likely don’t need it. There is no need to bring in your previous tax package (if you are a returning client), we carry forward the figures and have quick access on our computer.
7. Don’t separate slips. By keeping Part 2 and 3 together we don’t have to take time to match up the slips to avoid duplication.
8. Open your mail and remove the slips from the envelopes. Ideally the slips will be opened so that the complete slip is showing.
9. Request your Capital Gains/Loss Report from your financial institution. Not only does this same us time calculating, it saves the contact time to request the information AND avoids delays in preparation.
10. Only bring tax related records. Generally, we do not need the RRSP activity, RESP, TFSA, LIF statements.
This year we are returning most tax packages with information on documents that were not required and the reason they were not required to help our clients Understand Tax.