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A Tax Organizer: Your (Boring) Secret Weapon Against Tax Season

If you’re like most folks, just thinking about filing your tax return causes your head to hurt and your stomach to twist into knots – especially if you haven’t thought about it since you got last year’s refund check. Trying to gather receipts and figure out which documents prove you deserve a tax credit can scramble your brain. Don’t fret, though. We’ve got help for you right here – your tax organizer/client questionnaire.

What is a tax organizer?

A tax organizer is a set of questions and worksheets you complete about your personal situation and finances. The organizer includes questions about changes in your filing status, income, expenses, sales, retirement accounts, education, healthcare, and many other things can can impact the amount of income tax you pay. It includes a topical index that allows you to quickly locate the pages that contain questions pertinent to your situation. I’ve personally found the best way to approach it, however, is to go through it page-by-page and answer every question.

Here’s what the questionnaire looks like:

Organizer - Questionnaire

Why Should I Take the Time to Complete a Tax Organizer?

Completing the tax organizer and questionnaire does two very important things:

1) It helps you gather and organize all the documents necessary to file your tax return, and

2) It helps us –  your accountants – serve YOU better and save you money.

“We don’t know what we don’t know when it comes to the circumstances in a client’s life, and we can’t work to lower your tax liability or be proactive partners in your financial success if we don’t have all the information. The organizer frames up all the critical tax-related issues and questions for clients so that we can clearly see what has changed for you since last year,” says Chantal Sheehan of Team Holly CPA.

Because the organizer includes all your figures from last year as well as questions about things that may be new to you, it can help jog your memory and ensure that nothing is overlooked. It also prompts you to dig through your files and gather the correct receipts and other documents needed. The more your accountant knows about your financial and personal situation, the better she can serve you. Your answers are crucial to completing your tax return accurately and saving you the most money possible.

I’ve found that I don’t always know the answers to some of the questions (or don’t understand exactly what a question means), which prompts me to have a conversation with my accountant. That conversation usually teaches me more about my own finances and helps me make better tax decisions later. Remember, all Team Holly clients receive 30 minutes of free tax planning a year. According to Chantal, “If you fill out the organizer before the end of the year and request some FREE tax planning from Team Holly (30 minutes gratis to all clients!), we may be able to help you LOWER YOUR TAX due to the IRS, or project what you’ll owe so that you have time to save up the funds before April 15th.”

Team Holly has uploaded a tax organizer to every client’s portal already. If you login and retrieve it, you should see something like this after the cover letter:

Organizer - Personal Info

If you had issues with your portal login last year, please contact Team Holly now – before tax season sets in – to resolve those issues. If you prefer, you can request an organizer by mail (postage and handling charges will be added to your 2015 tax invoice). Either way, be sure to complete the organizer and upload pertinent documents as soon as you can. Clients who fill out an organizer generally experience faster turnaround times on their tax returns.

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