Income Tax Preparation – A Professional Secret

December 27, 2009 by  Filed under: Taxes 

Income tax preparation often is left to professionals. For some returns that makes perfect sense. Those are the more complex returns with lots of different activities and lots of problems. Also tax planning for some people is a good use of a tax professional, no doubt. However most returns only have salary income and maybe a little investment income. Those can be easily done by anybody.

Here’s how to approach tax return preparation.

Now granted, I only did tax returns professionally for three years. They didn’t teach this in accounting classes and nobody ever, ever told me this. This one trick I discovered just by observation and experience and it works. It is the key to return preparation.

You take one line at a time. Focus.

Focus on one line of a return at a time is the key to proper return completion. By doing that you will not be overwhelmed by the number of pages of the return. You will not be distracted by the number of pages in the instruction book. You will get it right.

This is serious.

Just read the first line and do exactly what it says. If you don’t understand it, go to the instructions just looking at the section for that line and that line only.

If you don’t understand the instructions, then get the instructions that the instructions refer to. There will be some. It will be a more detailed set of instructions and it will be referred to in your instruction book. Look only at the instructions for the one and only one line you are dealing with.

After you are satisfied that the first line is filled in properly, go to the second line and do the same thing. Do not wander. Do not get distracted. Stick to one line only.

Work through the return a line at time and you can fill it out yourself.

This is a good exercise even if you take your tax information to a tax preparer. By working through it yourself, you will have all your records organized and will be helping your tax preparer to best help you.

Income tax preparation done a line at a time prevents confusion and frustration. Give it a try and do not underestimate the importance of a focused look at filling out these forms or any other forms for that matter.

Take it one line at a time.

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