By now, we have all become accustomed to, and maybe even a little tired of, hearing about COVID-19, but it has affected all our lives in some way. States and localities are still imposing restrictions on social interactions due to the virus and, until these are lifted, we must continue limiting our interaction with one another. You may be asking if this year’s upcoming tax season will be affected, and the answer is a resounding YES. In conjunction with local guidelines, many accountants and tax preparers will be trying their best to limit contact by practicing social distancing while carrying out tax planning and preparation. With this in mind, our tax professionals want to offer some tips to help you prepare for and navigate your tax planning and/or preparation appointment.
Remote Appointment Tips
First, we want you to know that our meetings always have the same criteria, whether in-person, on the phone, or via video chat. Your preparer’s goal is to have the best and most effective tax planning or preparation meeting possible. You will be able to ask questions and impart information like normal. One of the most important things will be for you to provide your tax preparer with your information at least one week prior to your appointment—via email, mail, fax, through or another secure system or drop it off at their office by appointment—if they do not already have access to it.
Organize your files before sending them.
Because you won’t be able to have your meeting in person, sectioning out your documents can help your tax professional prepare for your appointment. Also, you won’t be there for any of those “oops, that should be in that folder” type moments. Whether you have multiple lines of business or just have a lot of documentation you normally bring to your appointments, organize ahead of time and label those folders—digital or physical—accordingly.
Don’t be nervous!
Try to keep your behavior the same as what it is in person. Do you prefer a business-style meeting or a more casual one? It may seem as if you need to act differently during remote meetings, but you actually don’t. You simply want to keep your remote behavior the same as your in-person behavior, because you already know the fundamentals of what makes an effective meeting. No need to change that. Remember, the goal of your meeting hasn’t changed, and you will have an understanding of your tax situation when the meeting is completed.
Think of the positive aspects of meeting remotely.
Remote meetings are time-saving and cost-effective. You will not have the drive time in addition to the meeting time, and you will spend less money on fuel. There is also the ease of access to your information and other files. There always seems to be some piece of information that was forgotten at home or a document that you didn’t know you should bring. With remote meetings, you can find the document, then scan and send it to your preparer right away.
COVID-19 has changed the way professionals are doing business. While we hope that everyone can soon get back to in-person meetings, for now, use these tips to help you get the most out of your next tax appointment.
For more updates about changes to upcoming tax processes, subscribe to our blog.