When will my return be complete? Can I count on a specific date?
Our office prepares each tax return with the same care and attention. There are several steps in the preparation process that starts with intake and organization even before your tax preparer begins to enter and calculate your return. Preparation time may vary, depending on the complexity and the availability of all applicable data and software updates. Sometimes there is an added delay if we are awaiting additional information. Once we have compiled the full return, it is reviewed by a senior tax manager or your Financial Advisor. Notes and adjustments may follow before the final return is signed and ready for output. Digital and paper processing steps follow, depending on preference. All the above factors, in addition to unknowns as we have seen during the pandemic, make the time from drop off to final return delivery range from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
How should I deliver my tax information?
You can either deliver your information by mailing or dropping off your original source documents to our office. We are open for drop-offs Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 4 PM.
You can also provide us with an electronic copy. The best way to do this is by downloading the document directly from the vendor. We respectfully request that you please refrain from submitting jpeg picture files as these take a significant time to convert to a usable format. Instead, please consider using a scanner or scanning applications on your smart phone.
When do I need to get my information to you to file in time for the April 18th deadline?
We request that you please provide all of your tax source documentation at one time once you have gathered everything. Information received after April 1st may require filing an extension.
How do you determine when filing an extension is appropriate?
There are several reasons and benefits to filing for an extension. Most often the recommendation comes due to late arrival of information. Sometimes that is because they are not available or there are corrections – Schedule K-1s and Form 1099s are frequent culprits. Tax filing season is a finite amount of time and tax preparers get busy. So, taxpayers who are out of town for a period during tax season or clients who simply got their information together too close to that deadline can often take advantage of an extension to relieve the stress that often accompanies trying to pull everything together by tax time. Finally, and especially notable this year, an extension will allow you to take advantage of retroactive changes to the tax law that might be made after the filing deadline, without the added time and expense of filing an amendment.
Does an extension mean there is something wrong with my return or flag me for auditing?
No and no. Filing an extension is very simply allowing more time to complete an accurate return. In fact, sometimes, filing an extension can help avoid penalties or errors because of the extra time to evaluate everything. As for the myth that extensions somehow flag taxpayers as an audit risk, some tax professionals theorize that filing an extension will decrease your odds of being audited, since IRS auditors must meet quotas and try to do so early in the year. While the IRS does not disclose its process for selecting returns for audit, the earlier a return is filed, the longer it is in the system and thus subject to a review.
Who should I contact about the status of my tax return? How often should I expect updates?
Our Tax Department has a full-time staff not only preparing but also administrating the return process. Reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling our office and asking for Caroline Kohler in Tax Department is one of the fastest ways to get an accurate update on your return status. If you have questions about tax planning or other personal tax strategies, your Financial Advisor is probably the right point of contact. He or she can include your tax preparer in the conversation as needed. You can expect to receive confirmation from us when we receive paper documents delivered by mail. Otherwise, you may not hear from our team until your return is complete – unless there are questions or data requires confirmation.
What has changed at VNFA regarding my tax return preparation? What is the Tax Department?
We have invested in updated technology and additional staff to create a more streamlined Tax Department here at VNFA. In prior years, we managed tax preparation using an “all hands on deck” approach from our team. We found that this was creating a potential gap in ongoing client service, so we decided to revamp the process slightly to create more capacity for our advisory service teams to focus on wealth management and planning priorities for our clients. Most of the change is internal and should not affect your experience. In fact, it is our intention to enhance your experience with the added value of having a dedicated team of tax professionals working alongside your advisory service teams.
Why do my paper documents come back in a different order than I submitted them to you?
Tax preparers only need certain data from these forms to enter into your return, so we make an effort to clear the clutter so that they can focus on those important pieces of information. Tax returns are prepared digitally in our office. So, when we receive paper documents, we go through a scanning process to create digital formats of the important information you send. In order to create a clean scan, we remove any superfluous items (like instructions or envelopes). This is also the reason we prefer you send us your documents removed from envelopes and free of staples. After the initial clean up, we scan the documents and place them into a folder until the return is processed and prepared for delivery.