Tax Preparation

If you are doing your own tax preparation or seeking the help of a friend to do it for you, it is just too easy to miss out on a number of benefits. Even if you do your taxes using a software program, you can overlook things or make mistakes. Preparing your own taxes and getting it done by an experienced tax professional are two completely different things. A tax professional will never overlook the deductions and credits you or your small business are entitled to. They will not just ensure the maximum refund, but they will offer you a smooth flawless experience.

In the many years of filing income tax returns, we have encountered many individuals and corporate officers who had no clue what was on their tax return; this is something we do not condone. We sit with all our clients and walk them through each line item on their tax return. We believe that everyone should be able to comprehend what is going on in their income tax return.

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The Procedure We Follow to Prepare Your Taxes

At SCL Tax Services, we have a unique tax preparation procedure. The way we prepare taxes makes us quickly stand out.

Our procedure is as follows:

  1. Intake sheet: New or returning client must fill out – this gives us our first view of who we will be preparing the tax return for and if there are any changes with the returning client that may change the return being prepared.
  2. Identification is requested: Due to the ongoing identity theft problem with tax preparations, we always request picture ID, and update our record if ID has been renewed or changed.
  3. Income documents are scanned for our records and compared to prior years to make sure there are not any documents missing.
  4. Documents are entered into tax preparation software.
  5. Next step is to review the return with the client (this part is crucial).

Reviewing the return means verifying that all the demographic information is correct including the name, SSN or ITIN and the address as well as the names and SSN of all the dependents.

After all the reviews, we move on to INCOME. We ask that the wages be verified; if they have received any interest, dividend, IRA or Retirement Distributions, Social Security benefits, capital gains, unemployment payments or Any OTHER income. Some clients have no clue what we are asking so we explain the income questions separately just to make sure there are not any underreporting issues. It is best to have all the income reported on the original return then amend the return to include income.

After income comes adjustments to income. There are not many adjustments, but the key ones belong to teachers, HSAs, alimony, student loan interest, etc. If there are no adjustments, we move to the next thing which is standard or itemized deduction.

Determining standard or itemized deductions has become simpler due to the TCJA Act passed in 2017. Most individuals who do not own properties take the standard deduction that was doubled when the act was passed, which was a great thing for most. The individuals who file itemized deductions have a harder time climbing the threshold, which depends on their marital status and standard deductions. Before TJCA, individuals were able to write off all the income tax withheld and property taxes paid. Now, they are capped at $10k. This was a huge hit to homeowners, who went from always itemizing to taking the standard deduction. We are going to explain pre-TJCA rules and the rules now.

After the deduction is determined, the taxable income is calculated. This is the income that is going to be taxed based on the marital status bracket.

Next are the credits an individual is entitled to, based on number of dependents, if any, child care, education, etc. Credits are given to reduce the tax due. Once all the credits are accounted for, the total tax is calculated. This is the tax that was due by Dec 31st.

Most employees have withholding taken from their pay every pay period. These withholdings are taken to pay this tax due. If their withholdings were more than the tax due, a REFUND of those withholdings are returned to the client. This normally is the case, but there are some who withhold taxes incorrectly and instead of a refund due, there would be a TAX Liability due.

When we see these instances, we try to advise the client on how to correctly withhold, so some get a quick tax planning consultation with their tax preparation.

6. After the returns are reviewed and explained, the next step is to collect authorization to electronically file the           tax returns.

7. All clients are given the option of receiving a physical copy of the tax return or emailed

8. Finally, the payment for tax preparation is charged. The fees are all form-based.

Things to Bring for Preparing Your Taxes (Tax Preparation Checklist)

To ensure the highest quality of tax preparation, we recommend bringing the following information with you to your appointment.

Personal Data

  • Social Security Cards (including self, spouse & children)
  • Driver License or ID Card
  • Dates of birth for self, spouse & birth certificates for dependents
  • Foreign Bank account numbers and financial information (if balance > $10K at any point during the year (for mandatory FBAR filing)
  • Health care coverage (Forms 1095-A, 1095-B, 1095-C)
  • Prior 3 Years Taxes for review (new clients only)
  • Child Care Provider: Name, Address, Tax ID# or SSN, and amount paid
  • Any correspondence from IRS or state taxing authorities that you would like us to clarify

Adjustments

  • Student loan interest paid
  • IRA contributions (paid directly to bank, not through employer)
  • Early withdrawal penalties
  • Moving expenses
  • Alimony paid (need name and SS# of recipient) or received
  • HSA deduction (paid directly to bank, not through employer)
  • Education Expense – Form 1098-T from college or vocational school

Employment and Income Data

  • W-2 forms
  • Unemployment compensation: forms 1099-G
  • Miscellaneous income including rent: form(s) 1099-MISC
  • Pensions and Annuities: form(s) 1099-R
  • Social Security Benefits: form(s) SSA 1099
  • Partnerships and S Corporations: Schedule K-1
  • Rental Income and expenses
  • Gambling and Lottery Winnings: form W-2G
  • Interest Income: 1099 INT
  • Dividend Income: 1099 INT
  • Proceeds from Stocks: 1099-B (including cost basis)
  • Sale of Home Income/Loss: 1099-B (including depreciation schedules)

Self-employment Data

  • Business Income: form(s) 1099 MISC and/or own records
  • Partnership Income: Schedules K-1
  • Business-related Expenses: receipts and other documents
  • Employment Taxes and Other Estimated Business Taxes Paid for Current Tax Year
  • Tax ID Number or Incorporation Papers

Itemized Deductions

  • Mortgage Interest Statement: form(s) 1098
  • Real Estate Taxes Paid
  • Personal Property Taxes: Ad Valorem
  • Charitable Donations
  • Church Tithes and Offering
  • Unreimbursed Job Expenses (including mileage and auto expenses)
  • Unreimbursed Volunteer Expenses
  • Unreimbursed Medical Expenses

 

Talk to a Professional Tax Preparer

If you plan to get your tax preparation done in a way that is accurate and ensures the highest refund possible this year, reach out to one of our tax accountants. At SCL Tax Services, we take the time to know what your aspirations and values are, and then develop tax strategies to fulfill the same.

Contact SCL tax firm to get a free quote for our services or schedule an appointment to get your taxes done right away. We prepare your taxes in and near the Bronx, Eastchester, Mount Vernon, Westchester, and Yonkers, New York.

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Help You with Your Tax Needs!