If you’ve been doing tax returns for very long, you may find the thought of having a checklist to do them to be somewhat ridiculous, especially if your tax software has a good “interview” mode that you use and rely on.
In reality, this checklist has more to do with everything BUT the tax return. If you are running a busy tax preparation office during the height of tax season, having an organized and efficient way to handle the large numbers of people coming through your office quickly becomes vital, and if you don’t have a swarm of people coming through at tax season, then you owe it to yourself to take a look at your filing season marketing plan.
This checklist really covers what to do with clients when they walk through the door until they depart with a completed return in hand. If you operate your practice as a drop-off service, then you will need to modify this slightly. This checklist is based on a new client coming in for whom you have never prepared a 1040 in the past.
Tax Return Preparation Client Checklist
- Ensure that client is properly greeted and provided Client Information Sheet to complete.
- Create client folders, set up in computer system.
- Review Client Information Sheet, asking questions regarding anything that comes up off that sheet.
- Inquire about items NOT marked on Client Info Sheet, but which are common tax items (deductions, credits, allowances, dependents, etc).
- Make necessary copies of client documents.
- Enter client data and complete the return.
- Review refund/payment options, as applicable.
- Review bank product options, as applicable.
- Obtain all necessary signatures.
- Provide client with return copy.
- E-file return.
- File documents as necessary for storage requirements.
- Process e-file rejections. Contact clients regarding these, as necessary.
- Print checks and distribute to clients, if applicable (for bank products).
- Confirm appointments, as applicable.
As you can see, there are groups of items to do daily, and also items to complete on each and every client.
Again, it may seem ridiculous to you to have a set of checklists for completing these actions, since you are likely used to doing them anyway. However, by having a procedure that is adapted to how you run your tax practice, and reviewing it regularly, you can operate your practice more efficiently and ensure that other preparers whom you supervise are all on the same page.