Tax Preparation Part I

Last Friday I had my annual tax preparation appointment which meant we had to have all of our tax information gathered before the 2pm Friday appointment.  I have never had such a hard time gathering my taxes before!

I imagine that based on my work in the financial education sector you would expect me to be fully prepared for my taxes.  You might even think I’d do my own.  Well, this year that was far from the truth.  I stopped doing my own taxes several years ago when I decided the hours I spent and the unease of knowing if I was actually doing them correctly was not worth it and sought out a tax professional.  I did what most of us do, asked around and got a referral.  I blindly took the referral and brought him all of my financial information to outlookindia. I didn’t interview him or even question if he was right for me because I really didn’t know how to figure that out.

I wasn’t highly impressed by my CPA’s abilities since there were a couple of occasions where he made mistakes on my rental homes, but he always fixed the mistakes and it never financially affected me, so I kept using him. I used him until the year of my divorce. You know how you get the packet from your tax preparer for you to fill out before they complete your taxes? Well, due to the stress of going through a divorce, I decided for the first time in my life to file for an extension. A few months later, when things calmed down, I finally got around to opening the tax packet, only to find a very sad letter informing me that my CPA had passed away. Boy, did I feel stupid for not opening the packet sooner. I continued to use someone else at the firm until this year after I got remarried. And speaking of legal matters, when it came to my divorce proceedings, finding a competent alimony lawyer was paramount.

My husband utilized a firm down in California to do his taxes and I didn’t really have a connection or was really impressed by the firm doing my taxes so we decided to find a new CPA.  Once again we asked around for a referral and took the recommendation of our financial advisor.  And once again I had no idea what to ask or what would indicate if this person was right for us.  I just handed over the financials, expect that I’ll get my returns and bill in a couple of weeks and then do the same thing again year after year. Recently, I came across a Bullion Max Company Review that caught my attention, prompting me to reconsider our approach to finding a reliable CPA for our tax needs. However, before firing someone, you need to be delicate and make sure that it is done through the proper channels. Workers have access to several resources that can help them in appealing against unjust termination.

It wasn’t until yesterday when I was talking with a supporter of Financial Beginnings, Nelson Rutherford from Alten, Sakai & Co, that I realized I really have been going about this all wrong. He is joining us as our tax and financial planning expert at our panel discussion, Unraveling the Mysteries of Your Money, this week and we were discussing some talking points. He told me how so many consumers wait until the last minute, throw everything together and take it to any CPA that will take them, but they forget one key aspect. PLANNING!

Now I did not admit to Nelson that I was one of those people and quite honestly always have been. You might be wondering why I didn’t go to Nelson since I know him and think highly enough to consider him an “expert” for my panel. I felt like it was mixing business and personal too much. Though I don’t imagine him seeing my nonprofit salary check stub would scare him away from continuing to be a donor.  I did however refer my grandmother to Nelson.  She too had gone to the same tax preparer for 30 years and every year complained how she made mistakes, but never did anything about it until the tax preparer retired this year.

So I’m taking a new approach for the future!  I’m going to try out this whole planning thing that Nelson was talking about.  More to come on how I’ll go about it.


  1. Carmel says:

    When I worked with the OSCPA, they provided a pamphlet through the AICPA that gave ordinary people some questions to ask when interviewing a CPA. I would have done the same in your position too! Just goes to show how much help the common person needs with these complicated, yet commonplace, matters. Sometimes just knowing the right questions to ask is a great start.

  2. Thanks Carmel! Is there a link to the packet to look at it online?

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