How to Make Your CPA Happy


CPAs have a tough time during tax season.  Long days (and nights), no distinction between weekdays and weekends, forgetting what their spouses and children look like…

Maybe the last statement is a bit of an exaggeration.  After all, I’m sure they have pictures of their family.

CPAs tend to be organized by nature. This a huge asset since part of their job is taking their clients’ disorganized tax situation and putting into a form for the IRS. However, this can be very time consuming.  And all at a time when they loom under an unmovable IRS deadline. (Sorry kids…The IRS comes first until April 15th.)

“So why should I care about my CPA’s work-life balance?  They chose their profession.  They should know that stress and long nights come with the territory”. Yes, they should.  And your CPA’s life choices are not your responsibility.

However, your relationship with your CPA is partly your responsibility.  And a good CPA can be a huge help to your tax situation. For example, they can find ways to lower your taxes (legally of course), keep you on track with tax payments, and help you with the dreaded “A” word.

It’s going to be much harder for your CPA to help you with these things if they are hunched over sorting through your receipts. Or pestering you to track down various tax statements.

So here is how you can make your CPA happy.  Be more organized.

“Geez! Can you elaborate on that?  If I knew how to be more organized, I wouldn’t need to read your stupid blog…”

I didn’t think my blog was stupid, but thank you for the honest feedback.

Below are just a few tips to help your CPA.2a

  • Create and inventory or checklist of tax related items you need each year. This way you can track if your CPA has all the documents they need to prepare your return.
    – Some items will be very specific like the “1099 from my Vanguard brokerage account”.
    – Others may be more vague like “medical expenses” or “business receipts”.  For the more vague items, have a place to store these items throughout the year so you’re not having to dig through files at tax time.
  • Use an electronic accounting system. It could be formal like Quicken or QuickBooks.  Or an Excel spreadsheet.  This allows you track and summarize personal and business expenses for your CPA. Your CPA doesn’t need to sort through your receipts.  They can use numbers from your accounting system for the tax calculation.
  • Keep your CPA updated on any new developments in your situation.  Did you invest in a new business? Did you move? Did you have another child?  Did you set up a new retirement plan? A good CPA will ask some of these questions.  However, they don’t always know to ask about everything.

Basically, create a system that requires small investments of time throughout the year to avoid a huge crunch at tax time.  Then when you meet with your CPA and bring a few slim files of summarized information, the smile on their face will be genuine.

Or, if you prepare your own taxes, you could be the one with the smile on your face at tax time.  How many people can say that?

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