At tax time, accounting clients run the gamut from perfectly prepared to rushing in at the last minute with receipts shoved in an envelope. As an accountant, you’ve probably seen it all. You can increase the number of clients who come to you organized and prepared by educating them before tax season. Helping your clients prepare makes the process easier for both of you, with less time spent per client and maximized tax deductions on their returns.
Update Personal Information
Accurate, updated information from your client makes it easier to jump right in on tax prep. Your clients can update their information online with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) if they need to make changes. That includes all their basic personal or business information, such as physical address, mailing address, telephone number, and direct deposit information. It only takes a few minutes to make any necessary corrections. You also want to make sure you have updated contact information in your records so you can contact your clients with questions if necessary.
Switch to 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 while saving on storage space. 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 ReceiptBank. If you use QuickBooks Online Accountant or a similar type of accounting software, make sure the app you recommend is compatible. That way, you can sync everything quickly and easily.
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 best fit their financial situation.
Prepare for Possible Tax Deductions and Credits
Meeting with clients before year-end gives you a chance to encourage planning for potential tax deductions or tax credit eligibility, such as charitable donations, childcare credits, or education expense credits. Because tax laws change and your clients’ personal and business situations may change, eligibility for deductions and credits may also change. An in-person meeting is the best way to anticipate and prepare for tax credits or deductions, and to 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. Now’s a good time to get your business in order, as well, so you’re prepared for tax season. Accelerate your year-end adjustment process and start saving time on corporate returns with QuickBooks Online Accountant. Sign up for free.