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Why Use a Tax Organizer?

If you are a tax client, this week you received our annual e-mail regarding tax organizers. We now send most of these out electronically in PDF form.

Some of you will fill these out down to the very last detail. Some of you will use it as a guide while you gather your tax documents. And some of you will completely disregard it and just send us every tax document you get in the mail. While we will accept your information however you choose to send it, there is a reason we send you an organizer.

Trust me, I know it can be a pain gathering all your tax documents. I go through the same process myself. We get some of our documents by PDF and some in the mail. I gather charitable contribution receipts and other tax documents all year. They all go into a file until I’m ready to prepare my return. But then how do I make sure I have everything and am not leaving out any important information? Well it’s a little easier for me because I know what accounts we have and what accounts might have closed and what might have changed from last year. But I still refer back to our organizer before I finish the returns to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

Unfortunately we don’t know everything that has happened in your lives since last tax filing season. Did you close one of your brokerage accounts and move the money somewhere else? Did you refinance your mortgage during the year and now you have two mortgage interest statements instead of one? Did you have a baby that needs to be added as a dependent? These are all important details that we need to know about to make sure your tax returns are completed accurately.

So do you need to fill out every single line of the tax organizer? Of course not. I know there is a lot of information there and we would actually prefer you just include copies of the IRS forms rather than try to fill in the numbers yourself. Instead of trying to fill out every line of the organizer, think of it as the name implies - an ORGANIZER! Once you’ve gathered most of your tax documents, use it to ORGANIZE all these documents. Here are some basic guidelines for using the organizer:

  1. Answer any questions in the beginning that apply to you and provide details for any marked YES. If you aren’t sure the answer, don’t worry - it’s not a test! Just leave it blank or leave us a note.

  2. Make sure your address is correct and make any changes

  3. Add any dependents or remove any who are no longer dependents

  4. Include a copy of a cancelled check so that we can have any balance due/refund electronically deposited - it is MUCH quicker than doing this by paper check!

  5. Review the listing of prior year financial accounts and make sure you have included Forms 1099 for all or make note of any that were closed.

  6. Review listing of estimates paid and include copies of cancelled checks to prove what was paid and when

Remember the organizer is really for YOU!  If you use it correctly, it will help to keep you from forgetting any information and  that will save you time and money. We won’t have to keep asking you for more information if we have everything. We won’t need to ask you for a 1099 for an account that is closed if you make note of that in the organizer. The less time we spend asking you questions, the less time we charge you for preparing the returns and the less time of yours we take up! The organizer is a WIN/WIN so don’t ignore it this year!

The views expressed represent the opinions of L.K. Benson & Company and are subject to change.  These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person.

Please see Additional Disclosures more information.