When signs of spring start to pop up, who wouldn't want to celebrate the warm weather and longer days inside, under piles of papers and receipts? Kidding! Come April, tax season brings its frustrations and stress, but with some planning, it need not be.
Mark Goodfield, a tax partner at Cunningham LLP in Toronto and author of the Blunt Bean Counter blog says he usually notices the same clients who tend to come in early or late.
"It's our human nature to put off these things sometimes," says Goodfield. "Perhaps some may feel it is too complex, or they simply don't want to deal with it."
But, a little organization will help a lot, he adds. It can be as simple as whatever works for you, notes Goodfield. Creating a system file will help the client keep track of everything and as long as it's kept altogether, this will reduce the stress of trying to find it in a hurried frenzy later on.
The point is to create something, says Goodfield. And with the deadline to file approaching on April 30, preparation is crucial. As is accuracy.
Earlier this week, a newreport from the auditor general's office revealed the Canadian Revenue Agency is having more difficulties keeping track of potentially millions of tax cheats across the country.The report highlighted several areas of improvement, including how it enforces and monitors cases.
Goodfield also points out the sooner one can make an appointment with their accountant, the service tends to move quicker.
Jonathan Farrar, a taxation professor at Ryerson University, agrees that one of the most time consuming and stressful components of tax season is the frenzied rush.
"The most stressful part of tax season is trying to please many people at the same time. Everyone wants their tax return completed as soon as possible," says Farrar.
Another pitfall, he adds, is waiting for missing information.
"It is easier to process tax returns when all information is complete ," he says.
A time saving tip is for clients to bring in their information only when they know for sure that they have all the tax slips. Another, which accounting firms use is a personal tax checklist/organizer, which enables the tax preparer to know exactly what client information is relevant in a given tax year.
Farrar also says personal software can be very effective. Goodfield says he agrees, but also notes clients need to take extra caution when preparing their own returns.
Both accountants agree effectiveness is maximized when clients have already completed a personal tax checklist/organizer provided by the tax preparer so that no information is missing when preparing the tax return using the software.