Helping your clients prepare in advance for tax season makes things a lot easier for both of you than having to deal with everything at the last minute right before filing. The right preparation also helps to ensure you file accurate returns for your clients, and it helps them minimize their tax bill by ensuring they get all the tax deductions and credits they qualify for.
Check That Basic Information is Up to Date
One of the simplest and most basic steps in good tax preparation is making sure that all your client’s relevant contact information is current and accurate with the taxing agency. Urge your clients to take some time to go to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website and check that all their basic personal or business information, such as physical address, mailing address, telephone number, and direct deposit information, is correct. It only takes a few minutes to make any necessary corrections. You can even offer to take care of this task for them, but they may be able to just it by themselves more quickly.
Urge Clients to Keep Digital Receipts
Arriving at the end of the tax year with a mountain of unorganized paper receipts can create problems for both you and your client. Digitizing receipts by scanning them into a computer or a smartphone can help your clients improve the accuracy of their records, and it also saves time for you because you don’t have to sort through paper receipts. The CRA accepts digital receipts, so you can help clients out by suggesting they make use of apps such as Expensify or Shoeboxed. If you use QuickBooks Online Accountant or a similar type of accounting software, make sure that the app you recommend is compatible. That way, you can sync everything quickly and easily.
Encourage Clients to Make Regular RRSP Contributions
Individuals can make Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions up to a couple of months into the next year, but your clients can handle RRSP contributions more smoothly and efficiently by making scheduled, pre-authorized contributions during the year. That works better than scrambling at the last minute to figure out allowable contributions and beat the deadline. You may want to help your clients set up a contribution schedule and guide them toward the contribution amounts that are best for their financial situation.
Discuss Possible Deductions or Tax Credits
One of the best ways to help your clients minimize their tax bill is to meet with them before the end of each year to discuss tax deductions or tax credits that they’re eligible for, such as charitable donations, child care credits, or education expense credits. As changes take place in your clients’ personal or business lives, it’s very possible that they may be eligible for tax deductions or credits that they weren’t eligible for in the past. Meeting and talking with them in person is the best way to discuss potential tax credits or deductions and to clarify which ones your client can legally claim. Also, let your clients know which receipts or records they need to keep to claim those credits.
Helping your clients prepare for filing their taxes is one of the most important services you can offer them, and it increases your value as a professional consultant.