You’ve made the decision and chosen a CPA to help you with your financial needs. You’re probably feeling a great deal of relief and satisfaction, because certified public accountants have the expertise to help you with a wide range of financial issues. You’ve made an appointment for your first meeting, but you’re not exactly sure what you need to do to be sure you make the most of it. If you are meeting with your CPA about your annual tax return, the American Institute of CPAs recommends that these are some of the documents you should be prepared to bring:
- Your W-2.
- 1099s you may have received for self-employment, interest, investment or other income.
- 1099-SSA for Social Security income received.
- Documentation of any other income you received during the year, such as self-employment income, alimony, rental or other payments.
- Paperwork showing tax-deductible expenses, including mortgage interest, state taxes, local property taxes, childcare or medical costs and moving expenses, among others.
- Documentation of contributions you have made to traditional or SEP IRAs.
- Information on charitable contributions you have made.
- Details of any estimated tax payments you made.
- Documentation of health insurance coverage (Form 1095).
This is not an exhaustive list. Your CPA’s office may be able to provide you with a more specific idea of the best paperwork to bring. In addition, don’t forget a copy of last year’s return so that your CPA can develop a better understanding of your financial situation. Your CPA may also ask you for some type of identification, such as a Social Security card.
Along with this paperwork, you should also come armed with all your most pressing financial questions. For instance, you may want to ask your CPA what he or she would recommend to help you make better sense of your financial life. In reviewing your documents, your CPA may notice that you haven’t made the most of tax-advantaged retirement opportunities or that you’re paying too much interest on your outstanding debt. Because of their extensive financial knowledge, your CPA should be able to offer smart ideas to address these and many other issues. In addition, ask about whether you’re taking advantage of tax-saving opportunities. CPAs can spot deductions or credits you may be missing or identify other chances to cut your tax bite.
Finally, remember that CPAs do a lot more than prepare tax returns. To become a CPA, these professionals must pass a rigorous 14-hour, four-part examination that evaluates their business knowledge and understanding of ethical standards. In order to hold on to their licenses, they are also required to meet tough education, work experience and ethical standards. Because of their strong business background, CPAs usually provide a wide variety of services for both individual and business clients. What can a CPA do for you? That’s a great question to ask in your first meeting. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the many solutions that CPAs can offer to address all your financial challenges.