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4 ways to be a better tax client

FrustrationStress can damage any relationship. And one of the most stressful times of the year is tax season.

That means that tax professional and tax client relationships definitely can become strained.

Taxpayers are always anxious to get their returns done because they need their refund money.

They're especially ticked this year because the start of filing season was pushed back to Jan. 30, slowing the processing and issuance of the tax cash.

Some folks will even have to wait until March as the Internal Revenue Service plays catch-up in the updating of nearly 30 forms and its computer system.

All this hurry up and wait means that a lot of taxpayers are taking their frustrations out on their tax professionals, to which more and more of us are turning for tax help.

Not cool, people, not cool.

If you did your due diligence and made a wise choice as to which type of tax pro you need and then thoroughly checked out the tax professional before you hired him or her, then you need to trust that person.

And you need to do your part to ensure that your return is completed accurately and in a timely fashion. To help you, the taxpayer, do your part in this process today's Daily Tax Tip has four suggestions on how you can help your tax pro do the best possible job.

1. Be professional: Some of my best friends are tax pros, but even though I trust their tax knowledge and ability I personally wouldn't hire any of them to do my taxes. But that's just me; I like to keep personal and professional lives separate.

If you, however, hire a friend to do your taxes, you need to remember that this is a business arrangement. Don't expect special treatment and don't bug your tax pro just because you know him or her personally.

And never call your tax preparer at home or after hours unless it's an extreme tax situation.

2. Be honest: Denying or hiding your tax obligations will do just one thing, get you in deeper tax trouble. So never lie about a tax situation. Remember, even though you're getting help, it's you the taxpayer signing your return. That makes you ultimately responsible for what's on the forms and schedules.

Your tax pro's reputation, however, is at stake, too. If you knowingly falsify information that leads to headaches for you and your tax preparer, you can bet you won't be welcome as a client in future tax seasons.

3. Be thorough: Taxes are complicated. Even renowned genius Albert Einstein pointed that out. That's why you hired a tax professional. But your tax preparer can only do so much with the data you provide. If you inadvertently or worse, knowingly, omit or withhold key tax information (see #2), your tax return results will not be what you had hoped.

When your tax pro asks for certain information or documentation, provide it. And do so quickly and completely. Don't try to hide income and don't fabricate receipts. If you're missing some tax material your tax pro can help you recover it or provide acceptable substitutes.

Most tax professionals provide their clients with filing checklists to make the job easier for both of you. Use it! Fill it out completely and bring the supporting documentation that it asks for. 

4. Be a grownup: Yes, we know. You hate paying taxes.

Get over it. It's the law of the land and you know that or you wouldn't have hired help to file your taxes.

So quit acting like a spoiled child, complaining about the tax laws that your pro can't change. Tell it to your Senators and Representative; they make the tax laws with which we must cope and comply.

What your tax preparer can do is help you make the best of the current laws. But that also requires you to quit whining and help him or her do the job.

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