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My CPA sent me my tax organizer yesterday.   Ugh.

We’re only in the first few weeks of January!  Really?!  He couldn’t have given me one more week of tax prep denial bliss?!

Apparently not.  The thing will now sit on my to-do list, glaring at me until I get it done.

You too, huh?

Tax Planning Happens During the Tax Year

The first piece of good news is that I’m in touch with my CPA regularly.  I pretty much have my tax issues handled at this point.

Ideally, you would, too.

This time of year, your tax preparer is more interested in history than the future.  The good news about that is that history is pretty easy to provide.

The bad news is that there’s very little you can do to “improve” your tax situation.  If you haven’t talked to your tax preparer since this time last year, you’ve lost your best planning opportunities.

I would make everyone’s tax calendar look like this:

  • Talk to your preparer before April 15th to wrap up the previous year. This is an opportunity to talk about your projections for the current year.
  • You would then talk to your preparer around August or late October (after the 15th).
  • And then one last time, if necessary, around December 1.

I understand that not everyone can benefit from this calendar because their taxes are pretty simple.

For those of you who run businesses or earn money through stock options or own real estate or have even the slightest nuance in your tax preparation, your tax preparer is not just a recorder of history.

That person is your partner in tax reduction.

What If Your Tax Preparer Doesn’t Do Planning?

Or maybe your tax preparer is you and you’re coming to the realization that it’s time to upgrade.

Bad news:  It’s tough out there, my friends.

The tax preparation industry is in even worse shape than the financial planning industry when it comes to having enough providers.

When tax preparation software commoditized the tax preparation business, many providers left the business.  Those preparers who stayed in the industry took on more “complicated” returns where a tax professional could add enormous value.

Now many of those folks are exhausted, flirting with retiring or already have. Massive changes in the tax code, navigating tax changes and deadlines due to COVID, and delayed deadlines because of natural disasters have many preparers thinking they’re done doing returns.

I can’t blame them.

To make it worse, not enough young people are entering the industry.  The result?  Too many returns to do, and too few people to do them.

There are some out there, though.  As your friends and family.  Ask folks who are in a similar income situation as you.  Get a referral.  I don’t know a tax preparer that is taking anyone other than someone referred.

Like I said, it’s tough out there.

Can’t I Just File on Extension and Figure This Out in September?

Yes, of course you can file on extension and kick the can down the road.

I always file on extension but purely out of superstition.  (Not kidding.)

I encourage you to have that @%!&$ tax planner done by mid-March, though.  I do.  If I owe taxes, I can get them paid on time.  I detest interest and penalties.

If you do go on extension, you will have to work with whoever your preparer was last year, which might be you.

The best time to find a new tax preparer is between about November and mid-January.  After that, forget it.  Preparers are too busy to take on anyone new.

Wishing you all the best this tax season.  If you want to talk tax preparation or my tax superstitions, please reach out.

Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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