Do you toss all of your tax information in to a grocery bag and deliver it to your accountant, happy to be rid of it? Do you later wonder why you cannot find your PG&E bill?
Each tax season, I receive an amazing array of stuff not even remotely related to income taxes from clients.
Here’s some of the stuff not to send your accountant.
. If it is clearly a W-2 or 1099, then fine, be lazy and do not open the envelope. At least I know I need those documents. It is the PG&E bills, investment fund prospectus booklets, and other non-tax related mail I can really do without.
. I already get the AAA travel magazine and I do not knit so please dig through that pile o’ stuff you are about to send me and remove any magazines. The only magazine I need from you is the one with your picture on the cover proclaiming you the luckiest slob on the planet. That way I will know to ask you how much money you actually won when I do not find a W2-G from the casino among your documents.
. If you must include these, please make sure they are within the expiration date. Coupons for dog food are fine, but please, none for baby food or H&R Block, as children make me nervous, and Block charges more than I do.
4.Mutual fund prospectus booklets
. I mentioned this at #1 in unopened mail format. Please note that once you open it and identify it as a prospectus, I still don’t need it. A prospectus is a brochure extolling the virtues of your current mutual fund or perhaps a new fund in which someone wants you to invest. Either way, there is no tax information in these booklets. They take up a lot of space, junk up the snail-mail system, and no one ever reads them. I suggest you opt out of receiving them at your broker’s website.
. Scrunchies, barrettes, bobby pins, combs, the occasional chapstick. That last one is not an actual hair item but I get enough of them I thought I would include it here rather than create a new category.
6.Unsorted documents in a shoe box, grocery bag, or produce crate
. If you want me to sort and summarize your tax information for you, that is perfectly fine. I do that for many clients. Please understand, however, that service is in addition to the base fee for preparation of your income tax returns. That means it will cost more so do not pretend to be surprised and outraged when you get your bill. I will merely stand there covered in paper cuts expressing no sympathy for you.
7.Our Company newsletter and tax appointment reminder letter
. Okay, I get it: you print it, but do not read your mail. Or you only scan your mail and toss anything with the word “tax” in it in to the pile o’ stuff to send me at year-end. Tip: something coming FROM me about taxes that does not have a signature area is not something I need or want back. If it does have a signature area, it is probably your prior year tax return.
. No one has actually sent me children through the mail along with their tax info but they have brought children with them to their tax appointment. Unless you can guarantee your child will sit quietly for the entire meeting, this is a problem. Thankfully, we have a contingency plan that involves my very busy secretary attending to the kids. But still, do leave the children at home, won’t you? It is only for an hour and you could probably use the break.
. I do not take telephone calls when I am in conference with you about your income taxes so I expect the same from you. I make an exception for parents who, in accordance with #8, have left the children at home alone, but the conversation had better involve gushing blood or missing limbs, not simply the location of the latest Pixar DVD or who stole whose hairbrush.
. This one goes hand in hand with #6. If you must bring me a bag, box or crate into which you have dumped your documents, please dump them all out before your visit, wipe out the inside of the container, then put them back in one by one, making sure there are no dead spiders or rodents (or pieces thereof) attached. Live ones are worse so please check for those as well. Wiping the dust, dirt and grime off of your paperwork as you put it back in to the container would be nice, too.
Okay people, you are all set for tax season. Let the writhing and gnashing of teeth begin!