What To Bring To Your Accountant When You File Taxes

Although it’s technically possible to file your own tax return by using software, this can leave you exposed to a wide range of issues. If you want to ensure that everything with your tax return is handled by an experienced professional, working with a reputable accountant is an investment that should always pay off by unlocking extra savings and helping you avoid mistakes.

If you’re planning on enlisting an accountant’s help this year and are wondering what to expect during your appointment, here are some helpful tips on what to bring to your accountant when you file taxes:

Social Security Cards

The accountant you work with will want to verify your identity prior to submitting your filing. And if you are claiming any dependents, it’s a good idea to bring their card along as well. Although social security numbers seem like an easy enough thing to manage, SSN mistakes result in 100,000s of tax returns being sent back by the IRS every year. Since that’s guaranteed to increase how long it takes to get your refund, bring along your cards so your accountant will be able to double check the accuracy of these numbers.

Last Year’s Tax Return

Even if your financial situation has changed quite a bit over the last year, it’s still helpful for an accountant to have your previous year’s return as a reference point. This will allow the professional you work with to identify which deductions and credits you previously claimed, then quickly see if you’re eligible for them again.

W-2 and Any Other Income Forms

If you work as a traditional employee at a company, your employer should have already provided you with a W-2 form this year. This document has a lot of important information your accountant will need, so be sure to bring it along. For freelancers, the most common form to receive is a 1099-Misc. And if you have any investments or other activities that produced income, you’ll want to bring all of those forms along for the accountant to review.

Expense Documentation

Did you make some charitable donations over the course of last year? Maybe you do some selling online and drove around a lot to source inventory. Regardless of the specific donation or expense, an accountant is going to want to see documentation before claiming it for you. While it may take some time for you to get organized prior to your appointment, it will be well worth the effort.

If you’re ready to file your tax return and want to work with a great Cincinnati accountant, Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help. Call us today at (513) 528-3982 to schedule an appointment.

Preparing for a Big Accounting Job Interview

Whether you’re searching for your first accounting job out of school or are in the process of looking for the next step in your accounting career, doing well during job interviews are a key part of reaching your goal. Although it’s completely normal to be a little nervous about a big job interview, the good news is there are clear steps you can take to prepare.

As far as what to expect during an accounting job interview, behavioral interviews are commonly used throughout the industry. The focus of this type of interview technique is to learn about your past behavior and use that as a way to evaluate what can be expected from you in the future. During this type of interview, you can expect questions that focus on your core competencies. Another important thing to keep in mind about behavioral interviews is they pose questions in the form of a situation, action, and result.

Now that you know a little bit more about what to expect during an accounting job interview, we want to share some actual examples that may come up:

Deadlines and Details

Given that deadlines and details both play important roles in the professional lives of accountants, expect questions about these topics. With the former, you may be asked to provide an example of a time when you had various tasks to complete in order to meet accounting deadlines. And for details, you may be asked about what steps you take to ensure that your work is completed with full attention to detail.

Communication and Teamwork

When people outside the industry think of accounting, they often picture individuals who are poring over spreadsheets on their own. While accounting does involve plenty of independent work, communication is still essential within a company or firm of any size. The same is true for teamwork. That’s why behavioral interviews for accounting jobs tend to include questions about these topics. You may be asked to describe experiences where you effectively communicated within your department, with someone in a different department or with a client.

Solving Problems and Setting Goals

If you’re looking for your first accounting job, you can expect to encounter plenty of situations that require problem-solving once you land it. And if you’re already in the accounting field, you’re well aware of why problem-solving is such an important skill. The same is true for setting goals and being able to contribute to hitting goals set by the organization. As you prepare for your accounting job interview, think of examples of situations that required problem-solving, along with other occasions when you worked towards a personal or organizational goal.

By giving yourself time to prepare and keeping the topics we covered above in mind, you’ll be in the best position to do great during your accounting job interview!

Thinking About a Career in Accounting?

At Donohoo Accounting, we feel great about the type of work we get to do on a daily basis. If you’re thinking about a career in accounting, we can confidently say from personal experience that there are a lot of really great things about this field. Since we’ve spoken to plenty of individuals who are excited by the prospect of getting into accounting but are unsure of the next steps they should take, we want to answer some of the questions that often come up:

Changing Careers to Accounting

Whether you’re in college and are thinking about changing your major to accounting or you’re already an established professional looking for a new career path, the first thing to consider is the type of accounting work you want to do. The two main options are industry or client service. With industry accounting, you will work for the accounting team of a company. For client service, you will focus on tax services or other accounting services for clients. It’s common for client services accountants to gain experience with a small to medium firm and then later go out on their own. The reason it’s important to think about the type of accounting work you want to early on is this influence many of the other decisions you need to make.

Education Requirements for Accounting

The most common path that accounting professionals take is getting an accounting or business-related degree and then taking the CPA exam. One question that often comes up with education requirements is if a master’s degree is necessary. The simple answer is no. However, given how many educational hours most states require to obtain a CPA license, plenty of professionals decide that pursuing a master’s degree makes sense for them.

 

When to Take the CPA Exam (and How to Prepare)

 

The other big element of starting a career in accounting is passing the CPA exam. The first question that tends to come up about this exam is when someone should take it. The best rule of thumb is as soon as possible, but not before you’re truly ready. The reason for that advice is this exam is harder than ever. Another question many potential accountants have about the CPA exam is how to prepare for it. There are many different books, courses and programs that provide prep for this exam. The best approach is to understand your learning style and then choose your prep options accordingly. Some people do best with the self-study route, while others need a more structured program to do well on the exam.

If you have any additional questions about starting a career in accounting, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Do Nonprofits Need to File Annual Tax Returns?

Many nonprofits are exempt from paying federal taxes. As a result of this exemption, there are often questions around whether or not this type of organization needs to file an annual tax return. Even though a nonprofit may not have to pay any taxes with the federal government, they generally are required to file an annual tax return.

The specific return that most nonprofits need to file is Form 990. This form is specifically designed for organizations that are exempt from federal taxes. The purpose of this form is so the IRS can understand how a nonprofit is handling its operations. This form can also be used by members of the general public to understand the specifics of a nonprofit they may be interested in supporting. By looking at the different elements of Form 990, which include information about a nonprofit’s mission, programs, and finances, it’s possible to be aware of any potential red flags.

More Information About Form 990

Just as individuals may need to file different types of tax returns, there are different versions of Form 990. The specific version that an organization is required to file depends on its size. Larger nonprofits with gross receipts of more than $50,000 file Form 990 or 990-EZ, while smaller nonprofits with gross receipts of less than $50,000 file Form 990-N (e-Postcard). And private foundations need to use Form 990-PF.

If your nonprofit does need to file this form, the due date is the 15th day of the 5th month after the end of your organization’s taxable year. So for an organization that follows a standard calendar year (January 1 – December 31), May 15th would be the annual due date.

Exemptions and Penalties

Although the majority of nonprofits are required to file a version of Form 990, there are certain organizations that are exempt from this requirement. Those organizations include most faith-based organizations, religious schools, missions or missionary organizations, as well as subsidiaries of other nonprofits. Government corporations are often exempt from needing to file, as are state institutions that provide essential services. Nonprofits should always consult directly with the IRS if they have any questions about whether or not they’re required to file.

The reason it’s crucial to know if you need to file Form 990 is the failure to do so three years in a row will result in an automatic loss of tax-exempt status. Over the last five years, more than half a million nonprofits have lost their tax-exempt status for this very reason. Given that the IRS has no appeal process for automatic revocations due to failure to file an appropriate Form 990 for three years, this is an issue that needs to be a top priority for your organization.

For expert help with your nonprofit tax return preparation, contact Donohoo Accounting Services by calling 513-528-3982.